Kwame Kilpatrick, the disgraced former mayor of Detroit, has already served time for obstruction of justice and parole violations, but he may be making another, longer, pit stop in the pokey, this time for even graver crimes. The Wall Street Journal reports that federal prosecutors following a multi-year investigation allege that the squalid Kilpatrick and his heartless associates accepted gifts from a firm that received a major investment from Detroit’s pension funds. In one particularly incriminating incident, a Kilpatrick ally may have cost the city pension $84 million in bribes and kickbacks, and this is only the tip of the iceberg.As with all stories involving Kilpatrick, the details are rather juicy:
The SEC complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit, alleges MayfieldGentry, named as a defendant in the case, funded lavish, non-business-related trips to Las Vegas, which included high-end hotel rooms, concerts, meals, massages and rounds of golf. Another trip on a private jet took the mayor and his entourage to Tallahassee, Fla., where Mr. Kilpatrick had a second home.At the time, MayfieldGentry Chief Executive Chauncey Mayfield recommended to the trustees that the pension funds invest about $117 million in a real-estate investment trust controlled by the company, according to regulators. The funds approved the investment, netting MayfieldGentry millions of dollars in fees, court papers say.Regulators argued in court papers that the pension funds’ boards of trustees didn’t know about the trips before they approved the investment with Mr. Mayfield and his firm.
Many in snakebit Detroit will see this latest round of scandal and bad publicity as just another black eye for a city’s that’s already been beaten down far enough, but in reality, this is a good news story. That Detroit has been run for decades by incompetents and thieves is patently obvious to any ten year old child with an enquiring mind; what’s new and different is that, finally, the good guys are moving in for the kill.It’s sad but true that at this point, the more Detroit politicians are indicted and sent up the river, the brighter the city’s future begins to look. In a better world, the Reverend Al Sharpton would be leading hunger strikes and demonstrations outside the Justice Department demanding a relentless, no-holds-barred investigation of the urban political machines that are leeching the life out of American inner cities and blighting the life prospects of young African Americans a generation at a time. Detroit has been mugged by its political class, and it will take more prosecutions and more long jail terms to drive the foxes out of the hen house and make room for a new, more honest group of politicians to take their place.While these thieves and middle aged roués gamble, whore and loot, generations of poor kids don’t get educated, jobs don’t get created, municipal services decay and damaging racial stereotypes get stamped in weak minds.Sending Kilpatrick, his cronies and those who do what he does up the river is a civil rights issue — maybe the civil rights issue of our time. Unless these criminal enterprises masquerading as political organizations are broken up and the culture of corruption purged, America’s racial wounds will not be free to heal.