Monday, March 11, 2013

Blue State Graft Watch Update- Kwame We Hardly Knew Ye; Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick Convicted of Racketeering

Once dubbed America's First "Hip-Hop Mayor", former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was found guilty of racketeering at the federal courthouse in Detroit on Monday. Kwame, along with his father bernard Kilpatrick and contractor Bobby Ferguson were convicted of 24 out of 30 charges of racketeering, fraud, extortion, bribery and tax evasion after a months-long trail.

Although sentencing is still a few weeks off, US District Judge Nancy Edmonds deemed Kilpatrick a flight risk and ordered immediate incarceration of the ex-mayor while awaiting sentencing.
Attorneys for Kilpatrick and Ferguson argued they men should remain free on bond pending their sentencing and said they weren’t a flight.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta argued Kilpatrick should be detained because he has a history of disobeying court orders. He also said Kilpatrick has access to money, as does Ferguson. Bullotta said Kilpatrick lied after his convictions on obstruction of justice charges in the text message scandal that drove him out of office.

Kilpatrick had previously been incarcerated in 2010 after a Wayne County judge determined he was lying about hidden assets after a 2008 trial where he and former aide Christine Beatty faced charges of perjury, official misconduct and obstruction of justice from Wayne County prosecutors. As part of the 2008 plea deal, Kilpatrick resigned as mayor and was supposed to pay $1 million in restitution and serve 120 days in jail.

Kwame is the son of congresswoman Carolyn 'Cheeks' Kilpatrick, who represented Michigan's 13th congressional district from 1997 to 2011. Elected to the office in 2001, Kwame Kilpatrick became the Motor City's youngest mayor. Despite using his office to award lucrative contracts to friends and fire city officials investigating reports of misconduct from the mayor's office, Kilpatrick was re-elected in 2005.

Seemingly locked in a death spiral at the time of his first term as Mayor, Detroit's prospects have only gotten worse since his resignation. The city faces a budget defecit of $327 million and an estimated $14 billion in long-term debt thanks to unfunded pension and healtchcare obligations. Michigan governor Rick Snider initiated the process of bringing in an emergency manager to Detroit at the beginning of the month.
He told a crowd at the Maccabbees building in Midtown that views today as a sad but hopeful day.

“At one point, (Detroit) was recognized as the most prosperous city in the United States,” he said. “We went form the top to the bottom.”

He said the decision won’t eliminate the role of elected officials in the city, acknowledging steps the mayor and city council have taken toward restructuring Detroit’s troubled finances.

“They haven’t been enough to solve the problem,” he said. “So lets work together.”

He said he expects an emergency manager to remain in place for at least a year and a half.
There has been increasing opposition to the state's Emergency Manager option since it first came up last year, even though there are few other viable options for Detroit.

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