Kwame Pleads Guilty; Cockrel will be Mayor

Around 10:40 today, Kwame Kilpatrick pled guilty to two Obstruction of Justice charges, agreeing to 4 months in jail, paying one-million dollars back to the city, and thereby losing his law license and ending his tenure as Mayor of Detroit, Michigan.

Watching the plea being made live on TV was pretty tough, and a giggly Kilpatrick almost seemed relieved to have made the decision. And although his plea and admittance of guilt shows beyond doubt that he did commit at least some of the crimes, it is a sad thing to watch. There was such promise with his election to office, but it ended disastrously.

Kwame did not walk the path that would have led Detroit into the 21st century and into greater prosperity. This is clear if you re-read his Inaugural Address from January 2002.

There are some specifically painful moments in the speech, given what we know now, which shouldn’t serve as “gotcha” moments as much as a reflection on why Kilpatrick has not delivered his promises as mayor.

As a father, I know I’m going to spend a couple of hours every day with my children because my job as a father is the most important job that I have. There is no way I can lead the city of Detroit if I don’t lead in my own house.

It’s just sad.

And perhaps worst of all, Kwame’s rousing closing to his Inaugural Speech, spoken with conviction at Fox Theatre to huge applause six-and-a-half years ago:

All I have to saying in closing, as I do in every speech, it’s time for all of us to participate in the progress and prosperity of the city of Detroit. It’s time for all of us to understand that we can’t waste four more years or eight more years or twelve more years in this city. It’s time for all of us to rise up and step up to the mantle of leadership. It’s time for all of us to rise up in this city. It’s time for all of us, state legislature, governor, city council, members of the county commission, attorney general, lieutenant governor – it’s time for all of us to rise up, to rise up, to rise up – and not start our future four years from now. It’s time for all of us to rise up and being our future right here and right now.

I hope that no one glories in the happenings of today, or in the fate of this mayor who had promised so much, and delivered on so little. Detroit needs to look ahead, to rise up, rise up, rise up from this scandal, and develop a future where its leaders will be held more accountable by the citizens of this city, and for every citizen to step up to the mantle of leadership by helping this city to become a better place for all, whether by getting involved in local politics, volunteering for local programs, or just picking up litter off the streets. And that goes for city residents as well as residents of the suburbs who come to the city for entertainment and the resources it provides all citizens of southeast Michigan.

Kwame may have failed us, but we are all responsible for this city in our own, little ways. Step up.

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