Kwame and Bobby are gone but it ain't over Detroit - New York News

Kwame and Bobby are gone but it ain't over Detroit

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Off the Chain Opinion by Charlie LeDuff

Kwame Kilpatrick knew he wasn't bright enough for business. So he got into politics. He stole. And now he's got 28 years in the can.

Good, I say.

I've heard some of you say: It's much too severe of a penalty for your run-of-the-mill municipal graft. Kwame didn't kill anyone, you say.

I say: That's debatable. When you steal millions from the poorest city in the country that means there are fewer ambulances arriving on time. It means fire engines that can't pump water. It means detectives taking busses to crime scenes. If he hadn't stolen all that money, we could have bought a couple things.

I say: Some child died who didn't have to.

So Kwame and his buddy Bobby Ferguson are gone.

But it ain't over in Detroit. Not by a long shot. None of the corporate high rollers who were "extorted" are seeing any prison time. They're still here, doing business with the city and Wayne County. They're still attending their charity functions, eating their chateaubriand accompanied by a nice central coast cabernet, convincing each other they are the centerpiece to Detroit's "turnaround."

Beware, Detroit, of these corporate wolves, these self-appointed saviors. The ones we call "Mister." The ones who get tax breaks and then don't pay their taxes. The "business leaders" who tell the mayor and county executive how things are going to go before putting a little nugget in their campaign accounts. The ones we put on pedestals and billboards.

Beware of the fangless lapdog media who believe these wolves are actually sheep. Those reporters and editors and publishers who want a chair at the banquet table and the cocktail party. These "journalists" trumpet turnaround. They write clever, superficial things. They give endorsements on their opinion pages without having had the courage to vet their anointed one.

Thank God there are a handful of real reporters here. Nice job Jim Schaefer and M.L. Elrick, just to name a few.

Beware of the bureaucracy that has not been swept out of City Hall. It clings stubbornly like a roach in a drain pipe. The Emergency Manager will clean the balance sheet and then leave and the cancer will still be there. The procurement, purchasing and building departments are where all the money flows through and so this is where the money is stolen (see Kwame).

But a federal agent told me after Kwame's sentencing that those departments cannot be overhauled without a change to the city charter. Those changes ostensibly must flow through the City Council.

And I have no faith there. Their grand legislative vision? Import goats to eat the tall grass.

Goats! Seriously!

The wolves have got to be laughing.

 

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