Saturday, July 19, 2008

Trying to find the right words

Over the past week I was at a couple of parties during which talk turned to the current political mess at the Colemena A. Young Municipal Center -- the power base of our city.

It's difficult to make sense of any of this crap. Both the mayor and the City Council are having their share of problems, with Kwame Kilpatrick facing a perjury trial on charges he and his former chief of staff lied on the stand about their alleged affair and cover-up of the firing of police officers interested in investigating claims that would have uncovered the relationship. The mayor got the City Council to approve a settlement that paid those officers $8.4 million. Worse still, several council members are reportedly under investigation for their alledged misdoings related to the approval of a $47-million sludge treatment contract. One of them, Coucilwoman Monica Conyers, hasn't shown up for work in over a week, citing personal reasons.

The week ended with Council President Kenneth Cockrel Jr. demanding that Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams leave the council's chambers after a dust-up between the two that also included Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel. During the barbs exchanged, Sheila Cockrel called the Mayor's Office "rotten to the core."

If you ask me, it's all smelling rotten down at the CAY building these days, and it ain't getting any better any time soon. That's why when folks asked me what I thought about the controversies, lies, misconduct and general shamefulness, the only thing that came to mind was "disgusting." I'm just disgusted by it all ... almost speechless.

Detroiters have gotten what we asked for -(although for the record, I didn't vote for the current mayor or Conyors, but did vote for both Cockrels) because we keep electing people of suspect qualifications and motives. With Detroit voters name recognition rules and facts, and common sense, too frequently is absent from the equation on election day. So we are stuck with people who may be proven crooked, and at the very least, broke the public trust.

With an election year coming in 2009 I'm even more concerned because we do not seem to have any strong players on the bench ready to step in for the current crop. As a result, disgust is all I'm left with.

I was thinking this weekend about how nice it would be to have someone who was truly commited to turning this city around. Make that some people, because we need more than a few. I caught a few media stories on Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday recognition, and like many people around the world I have long been an admirer. What I wouldn't give for just one leader in this city cut from the same cloth.

I'll end with a quote from a speech Mandeala delivered before I was born, the spirit of which should resonate today with anyone interested in change:

"During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."
-- Nelson Mandela - April 20, 1964

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