As someone whose first twenty-five years on the planet were spent within the city limits of Detroit, there will always be a soft spot in my heart for the Motor City. Moreover, once Detroit gets in your blood, it is hard to think of yourself as anything but a Detroiter, even with nearly two decades of living in Toledo.
And it is as a Detroiter-at-heart that I have been watching from across the Ohio border the tragicomedy known as the Kwame Kilpatrick administration. The latest act in this dismal production was news today that Kilpatrick faces charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice, misconduct in office, perjury in a court proceeding, and two counts of perjury other than in a court proceeding. His alleged co-conspirator, former mayoral chief of staff and one-time lover Christine Beatty, also faces a host of felony charges in light of what appears to be perjury over their affair.
The Kilpatrick years are a litany of misgovernance, ranging from misuse of city funds to an inability to carry out mandated state audits to recrimination against whistleblowers. Yet all of these scandals pale in comparison with the embarassing prospect of a sitting mayor being tried and convicted of a felony.
Just ask Marion Barry and the citizens of Washington, DC about the damage to a civic reputation involved with an elected official standing trial.
It is time that Kwame Kilpatrick recognizes that his continued presence in the mayor's office hurts the city of Detroit, and that he would best serve the city he claims to love by stepping down. Detroit has endured too many years of his failed leadership, and it is time to turn the reins of the city over to someone who can guide the struggling city without the heavy and distracting burdens of scandal.
My suspicion, though, is that Kilpatrick is too much of an egomaniac to put the city's best interests ahead of his own desperate attempt to hold on to power. Thus, Detroit will likely suffer another period of being the butt of national jokes, further grinding the remnants of this once-great city into the ground.
Kwame Kilpatrick: be a man and step down.