Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Is It Any Wonder Detroit is a Mess?

In Michigan, every night the evening news gives you a good dose of the repeated hijinks, bunglings and corruptions of Detroit city officials. Why are these people voted into office? The latest sideshow involves Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick utilizing city resources to facilitate late-night liaisons and extra-marital macking.

Apparently, the Mayor used his security guards/police escort to take him to meet his lady a-la-carte, and then stand watch. When two of those individuals raised an issue about misappropriation of city resources, they got demoted or fired. Yesterday a jury awarded them almost $7 million, to be paid by the city. As if the city isn't already financially strapped. Way to go, Mayor.

Also significant is the mayor's reaction to the verdict:
"I think my reputation rests with the city of Detroit," Kilpatrick said. "Being that there was only one (juror from Detroit), I guess I will have to talk to her. But everybody else needs to understand, this city understands who I am. They understand why I ran. They understand what I'm doing.

"But it's impossible if you can't get a trial where people look at the facts, the significant facts in this case, and render a decision."
Here's Detroit Free Press columnist Stephen Henderson's take on that:
OK, so he didn't come right out and say "Whitey stuck it to me." But public figures around here rarely talk like that; it's almost always subtle, and understood. But the implication's clear, and for Kilpatrick in this case, it's just counterproductive."
The sad thing is that this type of news is par for the course in these parts. Whether it's the Detroit teacher's union going on strike every other year in spite of bloated benefits and a rapidly declining student population, or an "education activist" pelting school board members with grapes, the nightly news reads like a David E. Kelley dramedy. Sprinkle that with frequent and senseless Detroit violence, and it ends up more like a Tarantino flick.

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