Some people don't know when to leave the party.
And by "people," I mean Detroit's Thug-4-Life mayor, Mr. Kwame Kilpatrick. As you may have heard on a TV set or read in a blog or news site near you, Kilpatrick violated the terms of his bond recently by attending to some city business in nearby Canada. He didn't notify the authorities that he was stepping out of the country for a bit, so the judge treated him like any other criminal and sent him to jail.
It was while watching this unfold it occurred to me that this man was still the acting mayor of Detroit.
In a brazen act that would make Bill Clinton blush, he still continues to rule the roost while fighting a legal battle that could slam him with a decades long prison sentence. I've seen politicians stay in power in all sorts of hinky situations, but Kilpatrick's woes are so overwhelming, so distracting that if he cared about Detroit and its citizens he'd step down.
I'd falsely assumed he'd abdicated his throne by now. With the controversies and the firings and the affairs and the embarrassment and the whole cover-up, perjury, breakin' the law thing. You know? That stuff. And now he's going to jail. The mayor of Detroit. Jail for breaking his bond. How can you execute as Detroit's top executive if you are in the clink? How exactly does this work? Slipping city legislation through hollowed out Bibles? Engraving the daily itinerary on the prison walls?
And what I don't understand are the people who still doggedly defend Kilpatrick. Blackness is not an immunity amulet to shield corrupt politicians from criticism from the same community they are embarrassing and victimizing. I'm for defending the defenseless and the wrongly accused, but Kilpatrick has done nothing to warrant such loyalty. He chose to do the things he did in a sloppy effort to hide his affair. It would have served him better to just admit he was screwing around that break the law and commit perjury to conceal it. Did he learn nothing from Bill and Barry Bonds and countless others who lie to federal grand juries?
Screwing around and taking steroids (which aren't illegal, mind you) doesn't get you in trouble. Lying about it to a federal judge does. Lying about it to Congress does. Lying about it to a prosecutor while under questioning does.
Now if you're not stupid enough to figure that out, you don't deserve to be dog catcher, let alone mayor of anything. If former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer knew to back down after screwing call girls, and he's successor David Paterson knew to own up to his past extramarital dibbling and dabbling from jump, what is Kilpatrick's excuse ... other than he is too stubborn, too self-involved, too vain, too obtuse, too hood to step down?
Kilpatrick was cut by his own overplayed hand. There's really only one question left to ponder:
Who's going down as the worst black American mayor? Kilpatrick or reigning king former Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Berry?
Busted in an FBI sting while smoking crack cocaine in a hotel room with an ex-girlfriend, Barry ended up serving a six month sentence, but remained part of the D.C. political scene and returned to be mayor again four years later. Berry's had a history of drug problems and as recently as 2005 tested positive for cocaine in the midst of an IRS investigation, but he's still kicking around, currently as city councilman. At one time he ran for office under the slogan "He may not be perfect, but he's perfect for D.C."
But what's worst or who's worst? And why? Did either do things that helped their respective cities while the mayors were in-between controversies? Is there something to be salvaged from these tarred and tattered legacies?