Detroit Council Eyes Ouster of Mayor Kilpatrick

The Detroit City Council has voted to launch removal proceedings against Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick — and has asked Gov. Jennifer Granholm to remove Kilpatrick from office. Council members say Kilpatrick withheld key information about a multi-million dollar legal settlement.

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Today in Detroit, the city council voted to take the first step toward removing its mayor. Kwame Kilpatrick had been a political star until controversy set in. Sarah Hulett of Michigan Radio reports.

SARAH HULETT: The Detroit city council is hoping to bring the city back to normal, in the wake of a mayoral scandal that's consumed it for the past several months.

Today, a divided council voted to start removal proceedings against Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

HULETT: The roll call. Will the clerk please call the roll.

HULETT: Council member Martha Reeves(ph).


HULETT: Council member Alberta Chinsley Lobby(ph).

ADAMS: No, and the...

HULETT: Council members believe that Kilpatrick misled them into approving a multimillion dollar legal settlement with three ex-police officers. They say they were not told that the deal included a provision to keep the mayor's embarrassing text messages from becoming public. Those messages appear to show that the mayor and his former chief of staff had a romantic affair that they both denied under oath. Valerie Berez(ph) represent a block club on the west side of the city. She's come to several city council meetings to beg members to take action against the mayor.

ADAMS: The man has done so much to disgrace us. I mean, every day you're on the news, YouTube, Jon Stewart. You know, that's not how the chief executive officer should represent this city.

HULETT: But officials in the Kilpatrick administration, like Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams, are quick to dismiss the council's vote.

ADAMS: This is a meaningless gesture, because they can't remove the mayor. They have no legal authority; their attorney's already cautioned them that this road is fraught with danger.

HULETT: Some council members worry about the cost of trying to oust the mayor from office, and time is also a considerable issue. It's possible the proceedings could drag out past the mayor's current term, which ends next year.

But council member Sheila Cockrel says something has to be done.

ADAMS: We need to get the city moving forward and in order to do that, as tragic as it is, this enormously talented, gifted, charismatic politician who cannot accept responsibility, and will not operate within the framework of the rule of law, needs to go.

HULETT: The city council also voted to ask the state's Democratic governor to remove the mayor, but there's no timetable, and it would be politically risky for a white governor to remove the black mayor of a majority black city.

Meanwhile, the mayor also faces a criminal trial related to the scandal. That process is also expected to take many months to play out. A preliminary examination scheduled for June was postponed today until September.

For NPR News, I'm Sarah Hulett in Detroit.

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