Controversial Detroit City Councilman Calls It Quits

DETROIT (WWJ) – After being one of the most outspoken Detroit City Council members for nearly eight years, Kwame Kenyatta is throwing in the towel.

WWJ City Beat Reporter Vickie Thomas sat down for an exclusive interview with Kenyatta, who said his resignation is effective this Friday.

“I’m announcing to the people of Detroit that I am resigning from my office,” he said. “I had made the decision some weeks ago.”

Without giving a specific reason for resigning, Kenyatta said now that Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr is in place, the council is virtually powerless.

“I have not been at the table since there has been an EM, and I don’t see a purpose for me, based upon the charter that elected me and the people that elected me, I don’t see it. I wasn’t elected to serve an independent contractor,” he said. “To sit at that table and act as if we’re making meaningful decisions that have to be approved by an independent contractor is not something that I can see going on.”

Kenyatta said if he were staying at the table, however, he would fight for things owed to the city.

“We’re talking about paying who we owe, but what about going after money that folks owe us? Starting with your boss, Mr. EM. The state owes the city, has admitted that they owe the city. Even if we’ve got to talk about pennies on the dollar, well then give us our dollar,” he said.

Kenyatta has been very vocal about his opposition to state control over the city’s financial matters — something he feels Mayor Dave Bing didn’t fight hard enough to prevent.

“I think that Mayor Bing did the best that he knew how to do and that he was directed to do. I don’t think that he did a good job in helping to save the city of Detroit. I think he should have fought. He should have told Snyder to go to hell,” he said.

Still, Kenyatta said he’s optimistic about the city’s future, even though things might get worse before they get better.

“I think the city will come back, but it’s going to be slow and it’s going to take some time,” he said. “I think that the powers that be, the hitting hands, are setting this city up for a dangerous future because you cannot have the haves and the have-nots trying to coexist in the same space, and there will be resentment for that and there will be a backlash as a result of that.”

Kenyatta, who has been on an extended medical leave for the past six months, said health problems also played a role in his decision to leave office.

“When you’re going through medical challenges, you’re going through those challenges. So, I was not at a point to make a decision at that particular point in time,” he said.

Kenyatta, an Alabama native who has been living in Detroit since he was 12-years-old, first alluded back in April that he might quit and leave the state of Michigan — another decision he said wasn’t easy to make.

“I really thank the people of the city of Detroit. I’ve been an elected official for almost 16 years, for the school board, the county commission and the city of Detroit, so I’m thankful for having been a servant for the city of Detroit,” he said. “But I don’t think any of us can be proud of the condition and the situation that the present state of reality of the city of Detroit is in. I’m certainly not. I’m not leaving at a proud time.”

Listen to the complete interview:

Part One: Click here

Part Two: Click here

Part Three: Click here

More from Vickie Thomas
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    […] Pugh received the most votes in the last election and is not seeking re-election this year. He earns about $76,000 per year. If he steps down, only seven council members will remain. Kwame Kenyatta resigned last week. […]

  • Gary Brown Resigns From Detroit City Council « CBS Detroit

    […] Brown stepping down, only seven council members will remain, since Kwame Kenyatta resigned last week. The council could be losing another member on Wednesday as well, after Orr denied a 4-week medical […]

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