Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Reminder - WCO Meeting Tomorrow

As a quick reminder, the Warrendale Community Organization will meet tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. in the school at St. Thomas Aquinas Church. Everyone in the neighborhood is invited to attend. Please enter through the middle doors.

For the past month, a special committee has been planning what the WCO should focus our efforts on this year. That committee will present its plan to the membership tomorrow evening for approval.

You can expect much more news about this in the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog.

Day 5

For the fifth day in a row, the text messaging scandal that Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick finds himself embroiled in was on the front page of the daily newspapers. While the comments left on this blog have been unanimous in the opinion that Mayor Kilpatrick should resign, I don't think that is going to happen when he addresses the public tomorrow evening.

I am personally disappointed that it has take Mayor Kilpatrick this long to address the public. It was a good idea for him to consult with an attorney before making any public statements, simply because he is accused of a felony and there are multiple on-going intestigations. However, I believe he has been in seclusion for too long.

The on-going mortgage crisis has decimated the Warrendale neighborhood. The U.S. Conference of Mayors met this past weekend to finalize a strategy for dealing with it. Mayor Kilpatrick was originally scheduled to attend, but he instead spent this past weekend in seclusion.

Mayor Kilpatrick had been a part of the process up until this moment. It's not clear how much, if at all, the needs of Detroiters suffered from his absense this past weekend. However, in general terms, it is simply not a good idea for Detroit's mayor to miss important meetings like this one. Detroit has needs that cannot be effectively dealt with in seclusion.

Monday, January 28, 2008

More on the Mayor

For the fourth day in a row, the text messaging scandal that Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick finds himself in the middle of is on the front page of the newspapers. I've read several comments, both here and elsewhere, that the fact that Mayor Kilpatrick was re-elected after the scandals in his first term is a sign that Detroiters have very low standards; that we're doomed and that this is only a continuation of what has always been going on.

Before I respond to that, I want to reiterate my standard disclaimer: my opinions are my own; they do not necessarily reflect on the Warrendale Community Organization or any other group of which I am an officer.

Detroit has some problems and Mayor Kilpatrick is far from perfect. However, I worry that we as a community might lose our sense of perspective. With that in mind, I would like to recap a few things.

First, in the summer of 2005, Mayor Kilpatrick became the first Detroit mayor to come in second place in the mayoral primary. He was almost eliminated at that early stage - something that rarely happens in American politics.

Shortly after that, Rosa Parks passed away. Her funeral presented Mayor Kilpatrick with an opportunity to both remove the scandals from the public's attention for a few days and, more importantly, to appear as a quiet, committed leader in front of the news media. By most accounts, that funeral did a lot to help Mayor Kilpatrick's re-election campaign.

There was also the fact that his opponent in the general election, Freman Hendrix, had a considerable amount of political baggage, which carried from his tenure on the Reform School Board. That baggage became downright devastating when the Kilpatrick campaign aired a television commercial with footage of Mr. Hendrix demanding that a grandmother be hauled away during a protest at that meeting.

Finally, there is the fact that Mayor Kilpatrick got a considerable amount of support from the labor unions, which are still key political players in Detroit.

After all of that, Mayor Kilpatrick was re-elected with only a 6% margin of victory.

Looking forward, there is the fact that Mrs. Parks will not be having another funeral in 2009. Moreover, it is unlikely that Mayor Kilpatrick will face a challenger with as much political baggage as he did last time. There is also the fact that the labor unions do not seem likely to be supportive of his next campaign since they are already calling him a "lame duck".

Whether or not Mayor Kilpatrick is re-elected next year will, in my opinion, depend entirely on how well the City is managed and on how successful he is in building the Next Detroit that he often talks about. There can be no doubt that he has accomplished some amazing things in downtown Detroit. The result in the neighborhoods, however, have been more of a mixed bag to put it mildly.

The six neighborhoods that the Kilpatrick Administration targeted for the Next Detroit Initiative have shown some significant improvement. The other neighborhoods, however, remain in what can politely be called a challenging condition.

There are 21 months remaining until his re-election. A lot can change in 21 months. The first President George Bush went from more than a 90% approval rating to being out of a job in roughly that much time. If Mayor Kilpatrick wishes to remain in office, he would do well to concentrate on the neighborhoods even more than he currently is doing.

Back to Blogging

I haven't been posting as much as I would normally like to do. I spent most of this month organizing an event over at the Music Hall. For more details, you can see my personal blog.

Anyway, that is over and my life is returning to normal. You should see a lot more posts on this blog. (*Knock on wood*)

Friday, January 25, 2008

I Feel Bad

I feel bad. I am one of the few Detroit-based bloggers who hasn't talked about Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick and the sex scandal/perjury accusations that he finds himself embroiled in. The fact of the matter is that my thoughts are complicated to the say the least.

Before I go into this in any great detail, I feel a need to reiterate the disclaimer that appears in the header of this blog. My opinions are strictly my own. They do not necessarily reflect those of the Warrendale Community Organization, Detroit Synergy or any other non-profit on whose board I serve.

With that disclaimer given, I have to say that I have a lot of disappointment to go around.

I am disappointed in Mayor Kilpatrick, not for having an extramarital affair, but for being stupid enough to lie about it under oath. He and I both grew up in the aftermath of Watergate. We each earned a degree in political science (he from Florida A&M; me from Wayne State). We each had to have heard the adage "It's not the crime that is a scandal, it's the cover up" a thousand times.

As Democrats, we each saw President Bill Clinton's presidency unravel after he lied under oath and tried to conceal it with even more lies.

After all this, Mayor Kilpatrick goes off and lies under oath. Quite frankly, I really wish I could have 5 minutes alone with him, just so I could ask him what in the world he was thinking.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy will soon determine whether or not his lies under oath constitute perjury. I trust her judgment in this matter. However, there is no getting around the fact that what he did was really, really stupid. I couldn't care less who he is or isn't sleeping with. That is a private matter for the Mayor to deal with his own conscience and his family.

Lying under oath, however, is another matter altogether. It's one of those things that can never end in a positive way. Even if Ms. Worthy decides that this doesn't meet the legal requirements for a felony charge, I do believe that there should be some kind repercussion for the Mayor - be it punishment from the State Bar of Michigan, of which he is a member, or a resolution from the City Council censuring him.

I also believe that Mayor Kilpatrick would be best served by taking whatever punishment comes his way and moving on. Obviously, he would do well to retain a private attorney who can negotiate the best deal for him possible, but the one thing that he should not do is what he did after a Wayne County jury handed down a verdict against him last September in the whistle blower lawsuit - play the victim.

Mayor Kilpatrick knew that lying under oath was wrong and he did it anyway. He needs to be a man and accept responsibility for that. This does not have to be the end of his career. Even those involved in Watergate still went on to have meaningful careers. However, if he fights one lie with another lie, it only makes matters worse for him and the city that he serves.

Of course, Mayor Kilpatrick isn't the only one who deserves to be chastised. I am also disappointed with the news media in southeastern Michigan.

If the Mayor is involved in a sex scandal then that is front page news. It's all that anyone can talk about for days.

If, however, 11 and 13 year old boys get shot in their own home, such as what happened last March in Warrendale, then it's in the news for a day or two and then largely disappears. There is no recounting of it in intimate detail. There is no outrage in the opinion columns. There are no demands of the police or others as to what could have been to prevent such a thing from happening.

I firmly believe that if we as a city spent as much time worrying about drug dealers, gang members and prostitutes as we do worrying about who the Mayor is sleeping with, Detroit would be in a much stronger position right now.

Like I said: I have lots of disappointment to go around on this one. It starts with Mayor Kilpatrick and keeps on going.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

January WCO Meeting

The next general meeting of the Warrendale Community Organization will be at St. Thomas Aquinas (5845 Auburn) on Wednesday, January 30th at 7:00 pm. Everyone is invited to attend. Please enter through the middle doors of their school building.