Thursday, September 04, 2008

Let the Healing Begin

After eight long months of scandal emanating from the mayor's office, the City of Detroit can finally begin to heal and move forward. Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has accepted a plea deal in his perjury and felony assault cases and as a result, has submitted his resignation from office effective in two weeks. To paraphrase the late former President Gerald R. Ford, my fellow Detroiters, our long municipal nightmare is over.

Make no mistake, I do not revel in this outcome. It is a sad day in the history of my beloved hometown. But, this is a day long overdue in light of all the evidence of misdeeds that surfaced against Kilpatrick; evidence ultimately related to a whistle blower trial in which the mayor and his then chief of staff, Christine Beatty, both lied under oath about an extramarital affair in which they were engaged. The whole episode cost the city more than $8 million dollars in a cash settlement with three former police officers, and much more than money in reputation.

Kwame Kilpatrick was a rising star on the political scene. The son of two politically connected parents-- his father was the longtime chief of staff to a former Wayne County commissioner and his mother is current Congressional Black Caucus chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick-- Kwame was one of, if not, the youngest lawmakers elected to the Michigan Legislature; he led the state Democratic Caucus; then got elected as the youngest mayor in the history of Detroit. Randye Bullock, a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and a friend of mine, wrote the following about Kilpatrick to the organization's listserv:

"I worked for the mayor for a couple of years. Detroiters knew they were taking a chance when they voted Kilpatrick in. They knew he was young and a little cocky. But he was intelligent (obviously not smart) and showed a lot of promise... He had a vision of a renewed Detroit. At one time during his administration, because of his tenacity, the city was thriving. But what happened? I think that he got "caught up." Instead of being a little cocky, his head got bigger and bigger. He became really arrogant. I saw his transformation. Before that, the corporate types liked him. Most people liked him. He could have been around for a long time. "

Maybe he can bounce back after paying his debt to society. If so, let us pray that he has learned, from this experience, that no man is above the law. I also pray that Detroit, it's leaders and citizens, can rebound from this nightmare. Heal and move forward. That's what must happen. And, knowing Detroiters as I do, that's what will happen.

Oh, Good Evening!
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