How It Be In The D

August 8, 2008

Kwame Kilpatrick-Leper or Politician?

99 problems

It all started with an email alert on my phone. Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was sent to jail. The funny thing is that it wasn’t directly related to his “sex and text” scandal. It was due to stupidity brought on by his alleged assault on a Wayne County sheriff’s department officer and his trip to Windsor-allegedly because Windsor officials called it. His statement-his flimsy defense given to Judge Giles was not only pathetic, it was ludicrous and downright surreal.

First of all, Kilpatrick gave me the appearance of a kid with their hand caught in the candy jar. First of all, as his trademark, he took no responsibility for anything. These problems that he has were brought upon him by the media. They were out to get him. Kilpatrick further said that he understands the media scrutiny that Giles is under, as he is under similar scrutiny. Really? Most of Kilpatrick’s scrutiny seems to be because of his propensity for deny truth and reality. He would have us think that he’s always a victim of circumstance with no control over his future or any degree of free will.

Second, his explanation  that Windsor officials called the meeting turned out to be completely false. According to Windsor Star,  Cliff Sutts (Windsor’s lead negotiator in the Tunnel deal) said, “We are not tuned in to the conditions of (Kilpatrick’s) bail. Because the meeting was in Windsor, we didn’t know that he required consent. All we knew is that there was going to be a meeting.” Sutts also said stated that the meeting was called at Kilpatrick’s request. Now if, as Kilpatrick told Judge Giles, that he’d never committed any misconduct, that the meeting was at Windsor’s insistence and that he has total respect for the court, who’s telling the truth here? At this point, Windsor ( a very important neighbor) would see to want to keep their distance from Detroit. After alll, I couldn’t blame them. What they probably see is a city that can’t keep it together and has a scandal-ridden mayor that can’t seem to mind common sense.

Thirdly, I was extremely angry when Kilpatrick told Judge Giles, “My sons are watching this proceeding because I asked them to. I told them that I did something wrong.” Now which of many deeds of wrongdoing did he admit to his sons? Was it the original scandal? Was it the assault on a law enforcement officer? Was it the poorly covered up trip to Windsor? If he’s as smart as I think that he is deep down, why on earth would he subject his sons to the trauma of watching their father be sent to jail. Children, especially sons, view their father as a sort of infallible superhero that gives them a sense of safety and stability. I can’t imagine that his sons have that anymore, especially after yesterday’s proceedings. Assuming that what he said is true, then shame on him. Yet again, Kilpatrick’s using his children as a way to garner sympathy from the public. All that I can say is that my fountain has long been dry.

I truly and deeply hope that this is the wake-up call that he’s needed for some time. It’s time that he fesses up like a man and owns up to what he’s done. At this point, I can’t believe that Kilpatrick’s word counts for much. If he’s really trying to as much for the City as he claims, then he must have unshakable integrity. People dealing with him must trust what he says and does. If the lies in his statement to Judge Giles are any indication as to who he is and what he stands for, then he must be removed. How can Detroiters have a mayor that can no longer be seen as anything other than a liar? Detroit needs a better mayor. Detroit needs a better ambassador to the region. Detroit needs a better liaison to the Democratic party. Kilpatrick is none of those. It’s time that we find somebody that is.


June 6, 2008

Keeping It In The Family

Just recently, my girlfriend returned from the Mackinac Policy Conference and brought back with her lots of great insights. By spending time with many of Michigan and, in particular, Detroit’s movers and shakers, she was able to interact with people who will direct Michigan’s future. One of them is Detroit’s importance to Michigan and its complicated relationship.

The easiest way that I can describe Detroit is as your crazy relative. You know them. You love them. You talk about them. Only you and your family could love this person. Yet God forbid that somebody outside of the family talk about this person the way that you do. The privilege is reserved only for family.

In the same way, we see the craziness that always seems to be tied to Detroit. I wish to be perfectly clear in saying that I in no way feel that Detroit is abnormal or worse than the rest. Many of its problems (i.e corruption, scandal, etc) are also symptomatic of just about any other major city. However, since we are area residents and since we constantly hear about Detroit’s foolishness, it remains fresh in our collective consciousness. For us, it is our reality.

Having said this, I feel that we need to move forward. Not forget, but begin to forgive. I feel that any scandal that further damages Detroit’s public image or results in mismanagement of funds should be addressed and, if necessary, prosecuted. Nonetheless, I don’t that the emphasis should be on what Detroit is not but on what it is.

As much as many of us have fallen into the trap on piling on the bash Kwame Kilpatrick bandwagon, how many of us have piled on the great things about Detroit one? Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is not Detroit. Let me be clear. He is a resident who is mayor of the City. In the way that we view what’s happening, should draw the distinction between Mayor Kilpatrick and Detroit. Furthermore, we need to step up and make things happen for Detroit.

Suburbanites might ask themselves, “What does Detroit have to do with me?” They might live in another county or not even spend any time in the City. What do my statements have to do with them? EVERYTHING! I hate to break it to everybody: if Detroit fails, then we all fail. While Michigan’s government is seated in Lansing, its core is in Detroit. Michigan began with Detroit. Michigan’s auto industry started when Henry Ford build his first cars in Southwest Detroit. When traveling out of state, one of the cities that first come to mind is Detroit. Everything revolves around Detroit. To try separate oneself from Detroit is to be a fool.

If you’re a suburbanite, go into Detroit to catch a game or to support the business. If all that you’ve known is your own small community, try to get acquainted with varied ethnic areas. Try to Detroit’s cultural centers (Detroit Institute of Arts, Orchestra Hall, Detroit Opera House, etc). To close oneself off from Detroit is to starve to death. Detroit is slowly starving. However, if we take action, it can be revitalized and return to its former glory. If its leaders wake up and if we look outside of ourselves, Detroit and Michigan also can come back.

April 2, 2008

I Love You Detroit

These were the words that concluded Kwame Kilpatrick’s State of The City Address, although his actions would indicate otherwise. The multiple lawsuits are moving against him and the City and we have lost two conventions. What else needs to happen before businesspeople and Detroit residents realize that Kilpatrick is a liability that needs to go.

One of the biggest parties that I have a problem with are those clergy that insist on supporting him. I view the clergy as the community’s moral guides and protectors. However, I feel that they have failed in their capacity if they continue to support a man that really didn’t show any contrition until he was caught. They continue to support a man that consistently appoints cronies to positions or creates positions for them. It would be one thing if they actually did something to improve the city. Instead they protect him, serve as his mouthpieces or take the fall for him. Instead of being the Pharisees (false teachers), the clergy needs to be more like Christ overturning the moneylenders’ tables. I implore the clergy to serve your community and take a stand.

Also, I have a problem with the regular citizens that continue with the same tired defenses. “What goes on behind closed doors should stay behind closed doors.” “He’s (Kilpatrick) has done a lot for the city.” “Let’s leave the man alone and let him do his job.” “The media should go and focus on somebody else.” These are just a few of the defenses that I hear on the local TV stations. I’ll address these defenses that I’ve listed.

In regard to keeping private matters behind closed doors, I agree. I would agree if these private matters didn’t occur on City time, with a City employee during when Kilpatrick was supposed to conduct City business. If he wishes to cheat on his wife, then let him do it on his time and with his own money. While I am not a resident, I am a City tax payer. I have a big problem with subsidizing Kilpatrick’s extracurricular activities. If I’m going to contribute money to the City’s funds, I want to see some good occur.

I would disagree that Kwame has done a lot for the City. There have been buildings renovated and business returning to the City. Nonetheless, I don’t see improvement in the day-to-day things. On the way to work, I drive by Trumbull and pass old Tiger Stadium. I’ve seen the space left by a stolen pothole, which has been there for at least two months. The only thing that sometimes marks it is the rubber bottom of a construction cone. I’ve driven through portions of Detroit and seen massive potholes. One is even so wide that it takes up the entire lane of side street. I’ve seen bags of garbage and large items left on the side of I-75, I-94 and the Lodge, since bulk garbage pickup has largely disappeared. I’m seeing people leaving the City rather than waiting. I don’t blame them. They’re leaving a city with virtually no services; high property and auto insurance rates; almost no major grocery stores. The bulk of the tax bracket that could have bulked up the City’s coffers has left. Many of the people remaining can barely support their own families. The stores that could provide food, groceries and other goods for Detroit’s residents are in the suburbs. What motivation is there to be a Detroit resident?

I do not think that Kilpatrick should be left alone. For lack of a better term, he is a child that needs to be watched. Left to his own devices, Kilpatrick has shown a deplorable pattern of behavior. Unsupervised, he conducts shadowy deals. Unsupervised, he makes settlements without informing City Council. Unsupervised, he engages in reprehensible personal conduct that has left Detroit with a tremendous political liability (himself) and the source of local, state and national ridicule. Until Kilpatrick shows that he can handle himself, I don’t think that he should be left alone. To be left alone to do his job, Kilpatrick first needs to do it.

Lastly, I don’t entirely agree that the media is singling him out at the expense of other news stories. Yes, I know that part of the media’s business is to sell newspapers and to have high ratings. However, they are also in the business of keeping the government accountable. Kilpatrick has rarely been forthright for an extended period of time. While he did promise to have regular press conferences so that the media and the people could stay informed on his activities and work, it didn’t come to be. When documents were sought under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Kilpatrick fought those attempts. If I were in the media and I have the choice of covering another Kilpatrick revelation or something less substantial, I would go with the Kilpatrick revelation. Media almost always goes for the bigger story. If the media were never to focus on ratings or increasing circulation, then they would be out of business. The constant balance between ratings/circulation and reporting the truth is something that will always be. As long as the truth isn’t compromised, then I don’t have a problem.

In short, I don’t feel that Kilpatrick has shown Detroit any love. Instead, he has shown his contempt in denying allegations that are slowly solidifying. Kilpatrick has shown lack of respect for the intelligence of his constituents and of interested parties. He has shown selfishness and lack of self-control. Kilpatrick has also shown a convenient ignorance for past statements that he has seemingly contradicted with either subsequent statements or in those troubling text messages. He has rarely shown himself to remain consistent in his statements and behavior. It is time for Kilpatrick to live his words of showing love for Detroit and stepping down.

February 28, 2008

Hell No, Kwame Must Go!

As of yesterday, the Michigan Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal to keep the text messages quiet. This is yet another obstacle in maintaining Kwame Kilpatrick’s futile attempt at hiding from the truth.

As a reluctant taxpayer (as somebody working in Detroit, I must pay city tax), I feel disgusted that he thinks that it’s business as usual. It is his business as usual that put him in his current situation and cost Detroit at least $9 million. People forget about the additional cost of his lawyers during the whistleblower trial, his lawyers during the trial to keep the text messages quiet and those of the media. For as much as naively supportive residents credit Kilpatrick for bringing in money and business to Detroit, he used it up during these avoidable lawsuits.

I’m pissed off at what Kilpatrick and other Detroiters mean when they say, “You don’t live here.” Well hell, neither do some of the City Council. These sheep make it sound like suburbanites are completely ignorant or don’t matter. Detroit sure as hell takes the suburbs’ money through the casinos as well as Tigers, Red Wings and Lions games. If these idiots say it, then mean it! Give the suburbanites their money back and see how the city functions. Let’s admit it-the average Detroiter doesn’t have the disposable income to engage in these pursuits. I would be interested to see statistics on how many suburbanites (percentages) at athletic events or at the casinos. I think that it’d be very interesting.

I think that it’s foolish to believe that business people will work with Kilpatrick. For me, it is still uncertain whether he will remain in power. It could honestly go either way. How can you make long-term plans with somebody that might not be around. In addition, I think that it’s fairly clear that he can’t handle his foolishness. If I were a business person, I wouldn’t want to work with somebody indiscreet and irresponsible. Lastly, why bring business to a city whose own mayor gave it a black eye? I hate to say it-until this whole thing is resolved (not blown over), I can’t imagine anybody wanting anything to do with Kilpatrick or the city.

Honestly, I’m very disturbed at his delusions. He thinks that this is a test from God. He thinks that this is just about his affair. He says that the white media is out to get a black mayor. He thinks that internal communications between staff is not protected though his should be. He thinks that this is just about forgiveness and not also about some potentially serious crimes that he can still be charged with. Kilpatrick is in denial, a liar or a fool.

As far as I’m concerned, this needs to end now! When Detroit is struggling to lose its reputation as the most dangerous city in the US, trying to get through one of its worst periods and trying to reclaim its former glory, it can have no distractions, which Kilpatrick is. Instead of trying to wipe up Kilpatrick’s shannigans, City Council and the Wayne County prosecutor needs to handle its real business: protecting the City of Detroit and Wayne County. Part of it includes removing one of this area’s liability: Kwame Kilpatrick.

November 8, 2006

Smarter minds have prevailed

I was very happy to hear that Dick DeVos will not be our governor. The state of Michigan has spoken and enough people have decided to give Gov. Granholm an other chance to lead our state

I will reiterate something that I have said often in public. While I think that there might have been things that Granholm could have done, I don ‘t think that she failed in enough things to as DeVos would say to remove her from her job. For those people that vote straight Republican regardless of who the best candidate is and those that will not listen to anybody that isn’t a Republican, they seemed to forget that Granholm inherited John Engler’s legacy of a huge deficit. As I would say, when somebody has horrendous credit because of past actions, it isn’t fixed overnight. It takes a long period of time and will probably mean bumps along the way. It is the same thing with Michigan. We are experiencing some significant ones on our way to recovery.

I do believe in Gov. Granholm’s platform. Diversifying jobs is the best way to go. For way too long, Michigan has put its eggs all in one basket-meaning manufacturing, particularly the automobile industry. I am not suggesting that we abandon the auto industry. My father was employed by GM and I owe my life to GM. Having said that, the Big 3 are no longer the big dogs. They have competition left and right from companies that didn’t exist 30 years ago or from countries that we never could have imagined manufacturing cars.

Also, we need better education for our workers. The days of dropping out of school and getting a good job in a plant or working on the line are long gone. Not only do many of our workers require at least a high school diploma or GED, they in reality need at least a bacherlor’s degree. It is the new GED.

I can only hope that my optimism isn’t misplaced. We had only two viable candidates. I wasn’t about to vote for someone (DeVos) whose primary strategy and statements preying on Michigan’s discontent and attacking Gov. Granholm. Take that away and he had nothing. Enough smarter minds prevailed that they made the best, possible choice.

October 20, 2006

Na, na, na, na…Hey, hey, hey goodbye

There were few people in the Detroit area not succumbing to the collective elation at the Tiger’s sweeping the Oakland Athletics, which has now taken them to the World Series. However, the Tigers’ miraculous turnaround during the 2005-2006 baseball season was due to some of the most basic, overlooked elements of the game: teamwork and chemistry. Their battle against the Yankees is an example of this statement.

For much of the last 10 years during which they had a resurgence, the New York Yankees have endured the public’s dislike. Their perception as being one bought by George Steinbrenner is due to them having one of the highest payrolls (around $194 million). This payroll has allowed them to snap up free agents and star players from other teams such as pitchers David Wells, Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson; sluggers Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez; and, former Boston Red Sox centerfielder Johnny Damon. While Steinbrenner has been successful at recruiting players long enough to win championships (his sole intention), he has not kept them together in a cohesive unit. What is missing is commitment to the idea of being part of something bigger than themselves.

On the polar opposite are the Detroit Tigers. They differ from superstar teams in several ways. Except for maybe (catcher) Ivan “Pudge” Rodríguez, the Tigers didn’t acquire known superstars. At the beginning of 2005-2006 season, most of the key players on the team were relative unknowns or people written off by other teams. Every one of the Tigers acquisitions or trades was made with the intention of adding to a puzzle. While superstar teams’ strategy has been to acquire superstars and overwhelm opposing teams, the Tigers were about acquiring great players who, in the context of a team, became greater.

Another huge difference was manager Jim Leyland. His importance cannot be underestimated. Leyland started off as a Tigers catcher and spent six seasons as a minor leaguer until acquiring his first minor league coaching position in 1970. From then on, Leyland coached in the Tigers’ minor league system until 1982 and leaving to become Tony LaRussa’s third base coach (1982-1985) for the Chicago White Sox. Subsequently, he managed the Pittsburgh Pirates (1986-1996), became Manager of the Year (1990, 1992) and took them to the National League Championship Series (1990-1992) though losing all three times. In 1997, Leyland was hired to manage the Florida Marlins, leading them to their first championship though they were only around for five years. He stayed on until 1998 and left to coach the Colorado Rockies (1999). Leyland didn’t have another coaching position until being rehired into the Tigers’ organization in 2005 as manager. Many people, including the Tigers’ commentators have attributed his tough, no-nonsense coaching style to his 11 years as a minor league coach, which taught him the coaching fundamentals that other coaches learn along the way once reaching the major league level. While Leyland had successful with Pittsburgh and Colorado, it wasn’t recognized until he rejoined the Tigers

His strong relationship with the players allowed him to nurture many of the younger ones into confident athletes able to stare down much more recognized teams and removed their egos from the team equation and utilize the older players’ experience. Leyland was as able to chastise players not performing to his level of high excellence as to leave a troubled pitcher to extricate himself. To summarize up how the players regard him, Brandon Inge (third baseman) was quoted in the ESPN biography on Leyland, regarding his commenting on Kirby Puckett’s death, “This guy [Leyland] right here didn’t even know Kirby Puckett very well and is going to break down over him because he meant so much to the game. Then, you know he’s gonna care about every one of us in the clubhouse. That right there was the moment everybody in the clubhouse was like ‘Wow, we’ll play to our death for this guy.’ ” Players grew to know that Leyland always knew what he was doing and never questioned his decisions. The decisions as well as his and the players’ arrivals were part of bigger picture—achieving big success through building upon small ones.

While Tigers’ long-suffering fans might owe their team’s victory to a “miracle,” it was anything but that. The Tigers reaching the World Series was due to the fundamentals of sportsmanship: putting the team above the individual. When Sean Casey (first baseman) was on the disabled list because of a torn calf, Pudge Rodriguez volunteered to replace him. Leyland, though grateful for the gesture, told him that he would be much better as catcher. I cannot think of any such incident in recent sports memory.

Also, Leyland and his players finally came into their own. He found a group of players that were ripe with potential though it was not able to fully develop. Leyland’s gruff honesty yet quiet nurturing allowed his players to feel motivated enough to give nothing less than their best, complete effort and last and not least to just have fun. Hard work hardly seems worthwhile without enjoying its benefits.

It might have taken 22 years for the Tigers to reach the pinnacle but long overdue. Their victory can serve as nothing less but a lesson to managers on how to lead players and players to follow their manager’s direction. Teams not superstars achieve consistent victory. It cannot be prima donna players that call the shots but strong, competent management. If players and management forget these lessons, then they will find themselves in the seemingly bottomless pit of mediocrity and unable to get out of it unless they remember these lessons and hold them central to what they do.

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