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.

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