DETROIT (WWJ) – “I am pleased that this long trial has ended and we can finally put this negative chapter in Detroit’s history behind us,” said Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, in a statement out following ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s conviction on multiple corruption charges.
Added Bing, “It is time for all of us to move forward with a renewed commitment to transparency and high ethical standards in our city government.”
That’s a sentiment shared by City Councilman Ken Cockrel, who invoked a well-known comic book quote:
“It’s an important day in the city of Detroit’s history, and I think it also sends an important messages as well: ‘With great power comes great responsibility’ — and that power shouldn’t be abused,” Cockrel told WWJ’s Sandra McNeil. “Ultimately, that’s something that … either Kwame Kilpatrick never knew or understood or apparently just forgot during his time in office.”
Cockrel, who briefly took over as mayor after Kilpatrick stepped down, added, “The Kwame Kilpatrick period really did kind of degenerate into a very sad a sorry spectacle. And I think that these verdicts may allow the city now to turn the final page in that chapter in its history and find some closure and then begin to move forward.”
Speaking live on WWJ after the verdicts were read, criminal Attorney Geoffrey Fieger said he expects Kwame Kilpatrick to spend at least 10 years behind bars.
“And hopefully when he gets out, he’ll be in his 40s, and he can do something productive,” Fieger said. “Obviously, what he and Bobby Ferguson were up to was no good and needed to be stopped.”
Fieger added, “If Detroit was for sale, and it was a pay for play — which it was in Detroit and everybody knew it — then he had to understand what was coming … I think it was foolhardy to believe that he wouldn’t be convicted of something.”
Fieger said it’s unusual for defendants convicted in federal cases, not involving violence or drugs, to be remanded to jail. Normally the court will restrict their movement, but they’re allowed to go home while a sentencing date is set.
Detroiter Melvin Willis said Kilpatrick may have been found guilty, but what good does that do?
“It doesn’t help us with anything we’ve got going on right now. We’ve lost 1.3 million people in the last 20 years — That doesn’t help our tax base at all,”” Willis said. “So what they should’ve done is taken some of those federal dollars and helped some of the poor people in the city.”
Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said it’s a sad day. “You have a very prominent public official. This guy had a tremendous opportunity ahead of him. He was a very unique brand and he tarnished that brand with what he did,” Hackel said.
Meantime, supporters of the former mayor were sending him well-wishes via social media. Posted one woman, “Prayin and believin that GOD has the true and FINAL verdict! ~ love you fam keep ya head up!”
“Mr. mayor, I want you to know that I have and will always look up to you and a man, father and mayor. i will continue to lift you and your family up in prayer. Keep your head up and know that this too shall pass. So since they don’t have you to talk about maybe now they will address the REAL issues in the city!!! You are loved and uplifted!!! much love to you and yours,” wrote a man.
Reaction from listeners posting on WWJ’s Facebook page was, for the most part, less supportive.
Wrote Nick Chirco, “What a great MAYOR!, he bought escalades for his wife, held crazy parties, lowered detroit’s population, made detroit the most miserable city in America…. WHAT A COOL ASS MAYOR HE WAS!!!”
“It’s time he looked humble for a change and not cocky,” posted Jean Richardson.
Also among those commenting Monday afternoon was Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who Kilpatrick claimed worked with the media to put him in jail back in 2008.
“I would like to congratulate the U.S. Attorneys Office on their successful prosecution of this complex corruption case. I will reserve any further comment until Defendant Kwame Kilpatrick is sentenced,” said Worthy said.