Politics & Society

Full News Weekend Includes Detroit's Crisis

Kwame Kilpatrick

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick AP hide caption

toggle caption AP

Lee, here...

We hit the ground running today, beginning the last week of January at turbo speeds. Michel Martin headed to Capitol Hill shortly after today's program to record a conversation with a leading congressman that we hope to bring you tomorrow.

Mondays are funny. Technically, we have the weekends "off." But, in this business, we're never really not working. We were BlackBerry'd to several developments this weekend — the Democratic presidential primary in South Carolina, Caroline Kennedy's endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama (her uncle, Sen. Ted Kennedy, followed her lead this morning), the death of former Indonesian dictator Suharto and the latest developments in Kenya's post-election violence.

And, President Bush will address the nation tonight in his final State of the Union briefing. There's much anticipation, as usual, on what matters will make the final cut in the hour-long (give or take, considering applause breaks) speech. It's probably safe to expect that a few issues — economic stimulus, the Iraq war, and the usual recognition of select "ordinary" citizens with notable stories to tell — will set the frame work for the speech. We plan to offer a recap of the President's address tomorrow.

We're also keeping an eye on a situation happening about 500 miles to the west of us in Detroit. The city has been rocked by a scandal involving its mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, who is serving his second-term. There are allegations that Kilpatrick and his chief of staff, Christine Beatty, perjured themselves on the stand last year during proceedings of a civil suit when asked about the dismissal of a high profile police official and ... allegations of a sexual relationship between Kilpatrick and Beatty. Just today, Beatty officially resigned from her post, so there's already one professional casualty. Opinions seem mixed on whether the mayor will survive the scandal. Folks are still waiting to hear from Kilpatrick, who's kept a low profile since the Detroit Free Press broke the story last week.

In addition to our Barbershop talk, we've been thinking about how to further cover this story, if at all, in a valuable way that brings it out of Detroit — it's a HUGE local story there. Certainly, there's been a long list of city hall scandals in this country. A quick web search on Antonio Villaraigosa (L.A.), Rudy Giuliani (New York), Marion Barry (D.C.), Bill Campbell (Atlanta) or John Norquist (Milwaukee) will take you behind closed doors of many of this nation's well known (and still, in some cases, well regarded) city leaders.

But with a city in distress, a popular leader left fighting for his political career, and, perhaps most importantly, two families (Kilpatrick and Beatty both have young children) involuntarily thrust into tabloid headlines, it can be difficult for any of the parties involved to emerge as a winner if the allegations are true.

We'll bring you more as we know it...



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

About Kwame Kilpatrick:

You forgot to mention the handsome and yet popular San Franscisco Mayor Gavin Newsom of his alleged affair with his campaign manager's wife.

Now, Detroit's Mayor joins a long list of politicians and their indiscretions. I mean what are the odds; another politician got caught in an extramarital affair. But what threw me for a loop wasn't the amount of text messages (14K) but the explicitness of the text messages between the Mayor and his Chief of Staff.

It was as if these two wanted to get caught. First, it was incredibly dumb to use the city's equipment for such activities; how about your personal cell phone? Second, Kwame has a law degree. He should have used that degree to his advantage. If he had to streamline all his affairs (no pun intended) on one cell phone, how about using ambiguous code words for messages that is subject to various interpretations? That way he wouldn't be looking at perjury right now.

The only victims in this situation are families of both parties . . . too bad Kilpatrick and Beatty didn't think about that during their "alleged" indiscretions.

Sent by Moji | 9:44 AM | 1-29-2008

At the end of the day (and all this foolishness), I just feel sorry for Mrs. Kilpatrick and the children involved. I was talking to a few of my co-workers about this yesterday and we all concluded that if we ever saw Kwame on the street we would each slap him in the face.

This situation isn't just a blow to Motown. It really is a blow to the African American communities and families. Here you have a young black man in a position to make/do something great in a city that is begging for a face-lift. And, not only did he fail to do his job as Mayor but he failed to set a standard for young African American men to embody.

When I look at this whole situation it forces me to ask, Kwame vs. Snoop...

What's the difference?

Sent by P. Umunna | 11:35 AM | 1-29-2008


I'm not condoning the Mayor's affair but don't you think your statement "When I look at this whole situation it forces me to ask, Kwame vs. Snoop . . . what is the difference" is overreaching . . . just a little?

It's like comparing apples to oranges. I'll give you this, Kwame is known as the Hiphop Mayor. But Snoop . . .you talking about a guy who told folks to drop it like its hot, publicly admitted to been on "chronic," brought strippers with dog collars as accessories on an awards show red carpet and lastly, has a vocabulary that only his posse will understand. That's the person you compared to a charismatic and educated brother like Kwame?

Yes Kwame did a stupid thing but he's no different from other Black, Latino, and White Mayors of major cities who have done the same thing.

Sent by Moji | 1:20 PM | 1-29-2008

This educated and charismatic brother cost the city 9 million in hush money. Also he cheated on his wife with at least three other women according to the wrongfully fired police deposition. 9 million dollars in a city that is broke.

Sent by Kay | 7:16 PM | 1-29-2008

With all the struggles and difficulty facing the city of Detroit it is a shame that this hot mess is something people will more remember of this city then of the people there who are still struggling in this economy. Kilpatrick's indiscretions don't change the fact of the problems of that city which apparently he has no time to really focus on.

Sent by Aljorie | 12:14 AM | 1-30-2008

It is unforntunate that allegations of this nature continue to persist in this day and age. We, however,must remind ourselves that these are allegations. If they hold true, indeed it is a sad day, not only for the city of Detroit and African American communities and families everywhere, but for America as a whole. Hope is most assuredly dying. When we can no longer find forthrightness in our elected officials how can we trust their leadership and policies. If the allegations prove unsubstantiated we have to consider how scandals of this nature will prevent quality individuals from seeking political office in order to truly make a difference.

Sent by K. Halford | 10:44 AM | 1-30-2008

I just love it when people take me to task for what I said or wrote especially when they take my words out of context.

I really don't care if Kilpatrick had affairs with a bevy of ladies; that's between his family and his conscience. The latter seems to have been "seared with a hot iron" due to the brazenness of the said text messages.

Yes it was wrong for him to go for a trial that will cost the city $9 million in the end. Any first year business or law school student would tell you to settle (in most cases) rather than go for litigation. But the city of Detroit has been broke for a few years.

Time Magazine named Kilpatrick as one of the three worst mayors in the major cities of the U.S. His extravagant lifestyle through some questionable fundings were well documented. These reports came in before his re-election yet he could turn on his charm on nationally syndicated black radio and TV programs to go against the Time Magazine report and other investigative reports. And the city of Detroit rallied around him to vote for him a second time. One of the most confounding things to a person like me. So if that's not charisma, I don't know what is.

Sent by Moji | 6:14 PM | 1-30-2008

It isn't charisma. It's the result of a population of adults of which 47% are functionally illiterate. The non-print media in Detroit are part of the same social circle as the Mayor and his cronies. They all owe their stations in life to the ignorance they foster.

Sent by desperate in Detroit | 12:33 PM | 1-31-2008

Dear Desperate in Detroit:

Thanks for the interesting perspective.

Sent by Moji | 10:02 AM | 2-1-2008

Great to hear Sheila Cockrel talking about how recalls don't work against her. Amazing how an at-large city council manages to represent so few people.

I was disappointed to hear the focus of Lynn Neery's bit was the sexual shenanigans. Is ALL of the broadcast media going to continue to focus on his personal life, instead of;
Amnesty International presence due to police treatment of those in custody
HUD in control of Housing Commission since 2005, while friends of Mayor were receiving grants while earning more than 6 times the allowable income
Streets not plowed in residential neighborhoods that supported his opponent(s)
Failure to appear at scheduled engagements during Conference of American Mayors in DC
So many friends and multiple family members of same on payroll
Did At-Large Councillor Cockrel mention her close familial ties to the President of City Council when she so smugly retorted to Neery's question about recalls. I think she is his step-mother. Not that the appearance of nepotism at all levels of government here means it really exists, but you do the math!

Sent by desperate in Detroit | 12:12 PM | 2-1-2008


NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from