What Could Have Been…
By: Bill McAllister
Today is a sad day. Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was found guilty in Federal Court on 24 counts including tax evasion, extortion, racketeering and mail fraud. It was deemed he and his co-defendant Bobby Ferguson would be immediately sent to federal prison with Kwame serving up to 20 years for his crimes. Ferguson was found guilty on nine counts and Kilpatrick’s father Bernard was guilty of tax evasion and could be locked up for up to three years. Greed and power have been known to ruin men and Kwame and his cohorts learned nothing from past offenders.
Why is this a sad day, you ask? Because, it was all so avoidable and the city of Detroit has been held hostage by his actions for a decade. In 2001 Kwame Kilpatrick, who was a member of the Michigan House of Representatives at the time, decided he was going to run for mayor of his hometown, Detroit, Michigan. His mother was long serving congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick and his father Bernard was chief of staff for former Wayne County Commissioner Ed McNamara. At the age of 31, Kilpatrick became the youngest mayor in Detroit’s history. He was a breath of fresh air. He was young, charismatic, a bit brash and the right guy for the job. He seemed like the perfect successor to outgoing mayor Dennis Archer. In his 2002 inaugural address he said, “I stand before you as a son of the city of Detroit and all that it represents. I was born here in the city of Detroit, I was raised here in the city of Detroit, I went to these Detroit Public Schools. I understand this city. … This position is personal to me. It’s much more than just politics.” It felt like the final piece was in place and Detroit was finally on the road to recovery. Or was it?
In Kilpatrick’s first term in office he used city funds to lease a Lincoln Navigator for his family and charged $210,000 on a city-issued credit card, some of which was used for spa visits, travel, massages and expensive dinners.
In 2002 there was rumored to be a party involving strippers at the mayoral residence, the Manoogian Mansion. One of the alleged dancers, Tamara Greene, also known as ‘Strawberry’ was shot to death in a drive-by shooting months later. Police officer Harold Nelthrope and head of internal affairs, Gary Brown began investigating stories of the “party” and rumors of misconduct by Kilpatrick’s security team. They were soon fired and alleged it was because they were investigating the mayor. They won an $8.4 million settlement from the city. During that trial, Kilpatrick and his chief of staff Christine Beatty denied they were having an extramarital affair, which leads us to…
2008…The year of the text scandal. The Detroit Free Press gained access to 14,000 text messages between Kilpatrick and Beatty. The conversations included everything from city business to romantic exchanges…mostly romantic exchanges. They also revealed the cover up involved with the firings of Nelthrope and Brown. Because these were city issued cell phones, Kilpatrick was charged with eight felonies, Beatty with seven. Charges for both ranged from perjury, misconduct in office and obstruction of justice.
There is so much more to mention…The Synagro sludge contract, setting up a “fund” where his wife Carlita was the only employee, abuse of power, tax evasion, mail fraud, an FBI investigation and on and on and on. The scary and confusing part is that there are residents of Detroit who think he’s being railroaded, that he’s being set up and who would vote for him TODAY if he ran for mayor!
To those of you who believe this to be true, I’ll give you a quote from the man himself…”Ya’ll done set me up for a comeback”…maybe in 2033.
A sad day indeed.