MADELEINE BRAND, host:
OK, maybe not a floor fight. It's more like a court fight in Detroit, Michigan. Here's the latest. Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is now in jail. A judge found he violated his bail arrangement when the mayor left the country to go just across the border to Windsor, Canada. Celeste Headlee is in Detroit. She's following this crazy story. And Celeste, the mayor, he was actually sent to jail for leaving the country? What did he say in his defense?
CELESTE HEADLEE: Well, he said, I'm sorry.
(Soundbite of laughter)
HEADLEE: That's basically what he said.
BRAND: I guess that didn't cut it.
HEADLEE: No, that didn't quite cut it. Mainly because, in the very beginning, the judge had laid out some relatively liberal rules. Certainly no regular civilian would be allowed to travel nearly as much as the mayor. But the judge said, look, I know you're the mayor of Detroit, and I'm going to let you do it under these guidelines. You have to let us know before you leave the city or leave the state or leave the country.
He violated that earlier, and the judge was not happy about it. And this is the second time that they found out that he left the country and went to Canada. And the only way they knew about it was because they read about it in the paper, and this time, the judge was not amused.
BRAND: How long is he going to be in a jail cell?
HEADLEE: Well, he's not in a jail cell yet. Right now, he's technically in detention while they're trying to process him and see if he comes up with the $750,000 bail. I assume that he's going to come up with the bail but in the meantime, he will sit in the cooler and cool his feet.
BRAND: So, Celeste, if he's in the cooler, who's the mayor?
(Soundbite of laughter)
HEADLEE: That's another really good question because the city charter provides for the deputy mayor to take over in the mayor's absence and right now, Detroit has no deputy mayor. Anthony Adams resigned, temporarily at least, and became the interim director of the water and sewage department. So we don't really know who's the mayor of Detroit right now. I imagine there's a lot of very smart people trying to figure that out right now.
BRAND: OK. Give us the background now. He has been charged with eight felony counts, including perjury and obstruction of justice.
BRAND: Remind us what happened.
HEADLEE: Well, this all began quite some time ago. We're talking about a case that involves the firing of a couple police officers. And supposedly, these police officers were fired because they were investigating misconduct on the part of the mayor. And the mayor came up with a settlement, an $8.4 million settlement that was paid out of the city's coffers.
And it's since been revealed that the mayor made a settlement with them that, if they took the settlement, they would not reveal some text messages that the attorneys had discovered that were compromising between him and his chief of staff. Those text messages were released in January, and the text messages reveal that not only had the mayor discussed often the firing of these officers and indicated that, perhaps, he fired them for not the reasons that he had said, but also that he was conducting an affair with his chief of staff, an extramarital affair.
And since January, it's been a virtual storm of controversy. Not only these felony counts, but the city council is moving to have him removed. The governor of the state is now considering hearings to have him removed, and there's a petition drive in effect right now where they're collecting thousands of signatures to try and get him recalled.
BRAND: So with all this negative publicity and apparent negative sentiment against the mayor, why doesn't he step down?
HEADLEE: Most people in the know say that the reason that he does not step down is because being the mayor of Detroit helps him in his case, that he can leverage all kinds of things, not only fundraising things to help pay for his legal fees, but also that it helps his case that he is still in an official standing going into this criminal case.
BRAND: Celeste Headlee, covering the latest in the story of Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, now in jail. Celeste, thank you.
HEADLEE: You're very welcome.