Say what you wish about the late Richard M. Nixon, but he knew when it was time to go. Indeed, by August of 1974, his name became more synonymous with the Watergate scandal than the presidency or the country he was trying to lead. He had almost no allies in either party, and had he stayed in office to face the impeachment trial that was sure to come–he would have been found guilty on all counts. Regardless of how corrupt Nixon in fact was, you have to hand him the fact that his act showed ultimately that he cared more for his country and his party than for his own interests in saving his own name, or his job, for that matter.
In Detroit we have a picture of a successful mayor who has been embroiled in a lot of scandal since he landed in office. Kwame Kilpatrick, 37, is in trouble. The city’s youngest mayor ever faces charges from Prosecutor Kym Worthy that he lied under oath about an affair that he was alleged to have had with his chief of staff, Christine Beatty (freep.com.) As of this writing, Attorney Worthy has not decided as to whether or not she will prosecute the mayor.
Now let me be the first to offer a disclaimer. I am NOT familiar with this case in any way. I don’t know who has told the truth, and who has lied, but reportedly there are text messages that supposedly prove that the mayor, who is married, did in fact carry on an affair with Beatty.
At issue here is not whether Kilpatrick has had an affair, or whether he has told the truth or lied. The real issue is that he has been down this road before. He had been accused before of misappropriating funds, using the Manoogian Mansion (Detroit’s mayoral residence) as a place to party. I am not writing this paper to speculate on whether the charges are true or false, let me be very clear on that.
My concern, though, as a native of Detroit–is whether I want a man running my hometown whose personal life is so out of whack that trouble seems to follow him wherever he goes, whether it’s truth or lies. I am just tired of the drama. It is pretty much like if I were an employer. Let’s say that not only Barack and Bill got into it, everytime I look up, Bill’s getting into an altercation with someone–even if he is not starting it. Sooner or later, I would feel that the company’s best interests would be served, because of Bill’s longstanding record of always being in the thick of trouble, by Bill’s ouster.
That is the essence of the way I feel about Mr. Kilpatrick. I have had enough of the drama. The problems have escalated to the point that they are distracting the city from being focused on Kilpatrick the leader, the mayor, and instead focusing on Kilpatrick the cheat, the liar, the bad boy, the hip hop mayor. The unions, a very powerful force in Detroit, now want him to step aside, according to today’s Free Press report.
It is too bad his mayorship has come to this. Mr. Kilpatrick is a very intelligent man who has accomplished much in the city. According to the City of Detroit website, he has encouraged reinvestment in the city’s neighborhoods and downtown areas, cut the city’s deficit by cutting the city workforce by 25%, attracted new business, like QuickenLoans, to downtown Detroit. Those accomplishments in and of themselves point to a man who is very effective as a leader.
But a good ethical leader also knows when to quit. His legal problems, his problems with the media–as well as his loss of credibility–all let me know that it would perhaps be the best thing for the city if he were to step aside willingly, allowing Ken Cockrel Jr. to take over, and to begin the city’s healing processes.
Mr. Kilpatrick, I don’t know if you are guilty as charged or not. But please for the sake of the City of Detroit, please step aside, so that we can have closure, and begin to heal.