JULY 28, 2008
The Detroit mayor (Kwame Kilpatrick) who was a rising star among Michigan Democrats until he got charged with multiple felonies, lived up to his reputation as a corrupt thug when he assaulted a sheriff’s detective trying to serve a subpoena on one of his shady friends.
The irate mayor pushed the detective, Brian White, and attacked him and his partner with profanity and racial remarks last week. During a court hearing about the incident, Detective White’s partner (former Detroit homicide cop Joanne Kinney) testified that the mayor, whom she had never met before, shouted at her during the altercation: “You are a black woman with a man with the last name White…You should be ashamed of yourself.”
Assigned to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office, the detectives were trying to serve the mayor’s good buddy, a contractor named Bobby Ferguson, with a subpoena. Kilpatrick gave Ferguson’s companies at least $45 million worth of city contracts and the mayor assured his pal sealed the deals by illegally giving him bid strategies and sensitive information. Kilpatrick also appointed Ferguson to a pair of government development agency boards that award millions of dollars to improve Detroit’s ailing downtown.
That seems to be the least of Kilpatrick’s worries these days, however. He also faces a 12-count indictment that includes perjury, obstruction of justice and misconduct in office for lying under oath to cover an extramarital affair with a city staffer during a police whistleblower trail that cost taxpayers millions to settle.
Sexually explicit text messages, exchanged between the secret lovers on their city-issued pagers, subsequently revealed that both lied at trial. The cops had sued the city because they were fired for asking questions about the mayor’s security detail that could have led them to discover the secrete romance. The city eventually settled the case for $8.4 million.
The self-described “Hip-Hop Mayor,” who sports a diamond stud earring, had been free on his own recognizance since being indicted in March, but a judge slapped him with a $75,000 bond after the assault on the detective and restricted the mayor’s travel. Party leaders can breathe a collective sigh of relief however, because their (fallen) star will be allowed to travel to the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
Democrats must be proud of Kilpatrick’s record since becoming Detroit mayor in 2002. After spending a great deal of his first term partying with strippers at the mayor’s mansion, Kilpatrick got busted for passing along the bill for his expensive taste to the taxpayers of the poor and struggling city he runs.
During the first 33 months of his term, Kilpatrick charged more than $210,000 on his city-issued credit card for travel, meals and entertainment. He also used $25,000 of city funds to lease a fancy sports utility vehicle for his wife at a time when Detroit’s $230 million budget deficit forced him to eliminate 3,000 city jobs and cut bus service.
Kilpatrick also used a secret tax-exempt, nonprofit that supposedly conducts voter education and community improvements to pay for a $9,000 stay at a lavish California resort. The nonprofit (Kilpatrick Civic Fund) gets about half a million dollars annually from donors that are seldom made public and some of the money comes from organized labor as “political contributions.”
The highlight of Kilpatrick’s tenure is documented in the secret multi million-dollar public settlement in which he committed perjury to hide the extramarital affair with his chief of staff. The documents, which Detroit officials fought hard to keep secret, also reveal how city-paid lawyers schemed to help the disgraced mayor cover up the affair and subsequent perjury relating to the matter.
The information was only made public after a lengthy legal battle that ended with Michigan’s Supreme Court unanimously ordering the release of the documents. A pair of local newspapers had tried to obtain information on the costly public settlement through the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) but city attorneys refused, claiming that settlements are confidential and must be kept private even when taxpayer dollars are used.
But in its decision, the Michigan Supreme Court said “there is not FOIA exemption for settlement agreements” and that a “public body may not contract away its obligations under the FOIA.”
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