Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Hip Hop Mayor

Right, as I mentioned the other day, the mayor of Detroit is a joke. A sad one. Mostly on the city itself. Seems to have drawn some more unfortunate attention today because the City Council voted 7-1 in favor of him resigning.

Unfortunately, it's a non-binding resolution that means nothing and, like everything else about the swirling maelstrom of scandal surrounding him, the Kwam is cheerfully ignoring it. Sticking his fingers in his ears, thumbing his nose at his critics, closing his eyes and hoping everything eventually gets better.

Spitzer got jacked for playing hide the pickle with a prostitute and he was gone in a week. This Kilpatrick thing has been going on for years now. At least it seems that way. Or at least it seems that way from the inside looking out.

For those on the outside who might think this is a replay of the Lewinsky scandal and think that I might be perhaps a bit hypocritical by decrying hizzoner for getting busted for lying under oath when I think that the whole Clinton thing should have been a footnote at best. Instead of, you know, a year long circus of indignation and impeachment. Those people need to brush up on their Emerson. But the scandal at hand - even ignoring the previous trips through the muck under Kilpatrick's regime and the whole troubling murdered stripper thing that just looks rather than having been proven to be shady - is about much, much more than a sex scandal. That's just the thin broth that keeps the media interested.

No, Kwame didn't just lie under oath to keep from revealing his affair with his aide, the - yes - Pippen-esque Christine Beatty. He did so during a lawsuit brought by two cops who'd been fired for investigating a wild party at the Manoogian Mansion (That's the Mayor of Detroit's official residence. I just couldn't pass up the chance to write Manoogian. It's almost as much fun as it is to say. The details are a bit murky and involve that murdered stripper than I'm not going to talk about but, basically, this wasn't a cocktail party and the mayor's wife nearly got arrested for beating up a stripper.). They claimed they were blackballed for that investigation. The mayor claimed the party never happened. During the course of the trial, to maintain his innocence, Kilpatrick said he'd never had an affair with Beatty.

Of course, turns out they were. And, worse, they'd been using government issued pagers (Well, like Blackberry things, I'm sure.) to text each other. The text messages from which are stored by a company for the expressed purpose of the public being able to know what their officials are up to. The cops' lawyers got a hold of those messages, showed them to the mayor, and he quickly settled out of court with them for about $9 million. Which is a lot for a cash-strapped, nearly bankrupt city to pay out. As part of the settlement, the text messages were buried. Until they were released as part of a Freedom of Information request filed by the local newspapers. Which revealed not only his perjury and affair but the very text messages that the mayor's office had been denying existed in the first place. That the mayor cut? A deal that the City Council hadn't approved which is probably illegal, too.

So, got that? It's not just sex, it's not just lying under oath, it's not just getting himself and a half dozen other lawyers disbarred, it's also about trying to conceal the truth and costing the city millions of dollars it can't afford in order to do so. In other words, it's not the immrality, it's the arrogance and entitlement.

That's what bothers me about it at least.

Oh, and he said nigger during his state of the city address. That bothers some people, too.

Basically, the Council can't remove him unless he's convicted of a felony, a recall is going to drag on forever, and only the governor can act right now to immediately remove him from office. But Granholm, perhaps fearing the setting of an unfortunate precedent for when her turn on the advent calander of sexual perversion comes around, seems reluctant to make a move. A recall can be called for by any resident of Detroit (And, yeah, they're going to check. The first person to try and circulate a petition has come under fire for not exactly living where at his listed address. The lawyers are really circling in the water on this one.) provided they collect enough signatures, the City Council certifies it, and a special election is called. But even that might not work since Kilpatrick has significant support among his constituents. People cheer him and encourage him while believing he's being persecuted. I know, I've talked to them.

It's times like this when I try and remember that this is the same city that elected Coleman Young to umpteen dozen turns. He might be a crook but he's OUR crook, I guess.

Which is somewhat understandable, given that the city is heavily....well, urbanized let's say and the surrounding suburbs are, listeners to Lawrence Welk? I don't know, I'm bad at this coded racism stuff. It's also a bit unfortunate since it reinforces the stereotype that black mayors are corrupt and dishonest in the model of Marion Berry rather than Kilpatrick's predecessor, Dennis Archer. But it does seem like it does crop up an awful lot, doesn't it?

I don't, however, think it's a black thing. Look at, say, Tammany Hall for an example of what whites will get up to when they're corrupt. Those politicians, though, weren't just white, they were Irish. Which was a big deal in the 1800s heyday of Tammany. Instead of saying this is caused by blacks out to get revenge on whitey, it's more a case that when formerly oppressed minorities gain power they have a perverse desire to stick it to the man. Even when they are, in fact, the man and it's counterproductive to their own ends. The hatred, the distrust of authority is so ingrained that misbehavior is expected and that public is just glad it's being done by one of their own rather than directed towards them.

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