Detroit and Ottawa - Sisters in Shame

The Ottawa Citizen reports that “Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his former chief of staff Christine Beatty surrendered to police Monday, hours after the county's top prosecutor charged the pair with perjury, obstruction, conspiracy and misconduct, connected to allegations they lied under oath about their affair.”

The Detroit Mayor’s response was familiar to Ottawa residents: “Kilpatrick said in a written statement Monday that he would not step down from his duties and that he intends to fight the charges.”

However, unlike in Ottawa, Detroit City Council did the right thing and “voted 7-1 last week to call for Kilpatrick to resign”.

Of course they are not the only ones calling for the mayor to do the right thing. This column in the Detroit Free Press echoes the views of many Detroit residents when it states:

And let them begin without Kilpatrick as mayor. Count me among those who have seen enough of this distraction, who do not want to witness the indignities of the city's highest elected official on trial, who do not believe Detroit's many problems can or should be managed by a man facing serial felony charges.

I actually like the mayor and deeply respect the good things he has done for Detroit, the momentum he seems to engender just by filling a room with his energy and charisma. I desperately wanted him to succeed, as the first member of my generation of Detroiters chosen to lead.

But that's all moot now, a pipe dream being crowded by bitter realities. No matter what Kilpatrick says, he cannot help but be consumed by the effort to fight these charges.

His word already means nothing. And the damage to his ability to lead has been done, no matter what the legal outcome.

Love is, in part, knowing when to let go. So is true leadership. Kilpatrick can best show his love for Detroit, and the leadership the city once had faith in, by letting go of the stranglehold his flourishing scandal has on all of us.
These are words that perhaps Ottawa Mayor Larry O’Brien might also want to pay heed to.

Of course, O’Brien’ supporters will point out that there are significant differences in the charges facing the two mayors, That is certainly so. For one thing the charges against the Detroit mayor do not call into doubt the validity of his election.

No comments: