Detroit Newspapers Call for Mayor's Resignation
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick pleaded not guilty today to felony charges including perjury and obstruction of justice. Kilpatrick and his former top aide were arraigned this afternoon. The two were accused of lying under oath about a romantic relationship.
As Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett reports, the mayor's legal troubles have been the talk of the city.
SARAH HULETT: The scandal involving Mayor Kilpatrick has been big news for two months now in the city, but the indictment has brought a whole new level of interest. Satellite trucks were parked outside the courthouse hours before the mayor's scheduled arraignment, and local and national news outlets prepared for a day's worth of coverage for a five-minute court proceeding.
Mr. JASON CARROLL(ph): I'm Jason Carroll outside 36th district court. One day after being mug shot that the mayor, true to his word, conducts city business…
HULETT: Also outside the courthouse were small demonstrations both for and against the mayor.
(Soundbite of demonstration)
Unidentified Man #1: Kwame Kilpatrick...
Unidentified Group: He's Detroit's mayor!
HULETT: William Cheeks was with about 20 people rallying in support of Kilpatrick.
Mr. WILLIAM CHEEKS: And you know, if he made a mistake, we gonna give our brother another chance, because anybody make mistakes, we give him another chance. You gonna give my brother another chance, because he's been doing us right!
Unidentified Woman: What time is it?
Unidentified Group: It's time to resign. What time is it? It's time to resign.
Unidentified Man #2: What time is it?
Unidentified Group: It's time to resign.
HULETT: Cheeks clashed with a smaller anti-Kilpatrick protest. Joyce Shone(ph) says Kilpatrick should resign.
Ms. JOYCE SHONE: After eight indictments, including felony perjury charges, he thinks he can spend the next 18 months stalling when he hasn't even said he's innocent. All he's saying is he's going to get away with it.
HULETT: Around the corner from the courthouse, Mike Hayward(ph) was getting ready for the lunch rush at the cafe he runs. Many of his customers are court employees. And he says the scandal surrounding the mayor was a staple of the morning gossip.
Mr. MIKE HAYWARD (Cafe Owner): Oh, it's a circus. They be glad when it's over with, you know. It's a circus. Yes.
HULETT: The circus started in January when the Detroit Free Press published text messages allegedly exchanged by the mayor and his former chief of staff. The messages suggest the two lied on the witness stand when they denied having a romantic relationship. The testimony was delivered during a whistleblower lawsuit trial. Legal documents later revealed that a settlement in the suit included a secret side deal intended to keep the text messages from becoming public.
(Soundbite of radio broadcast)
Mr. FRANK BECKMANN (Broadcaster, News/Talk 760 WJR): In Detroit, John, you're on WJR with Frank Beckmann. Good afternoon.
HULETT: News of the mayor's indictment has been all over the talk radio airwaves with extended shows dedicated to the scandal.
Unidentified Man #3: Frank, I think, like many of our previous callers, I think this is actually a very good day for Detroit. I think it's truly demonstrating the cronyism that's developed in the city of Detroit. I think...
HULETT: Detroit's two daily newspapers both printed editorials today calling for the mayor's resignation. But Cathy Holloman(ph), who is waiting for a bus outside City Hall, says Kilpatrick is getting bullied for personal indiscretions.
Ms. CATHY HOLLOMAN: You know, everybody done wrong. You know, I just feel like, right now, he's been through enough, his family gone through enough, and I feel like this is enough is enough. And the media has put too much emphasis on what has - what went on with him, you know?
HULETT: But as the city's first sitting mayor to face criminal charges, its unlikely Kilpatrick will be free from the spotlight any time soon.
For NPR News, I'm Sarah Hulett.