Mar 11, 2008
Kilpatrick blasts text-scandal critics in State of the City address
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick laid out his vision for the City of Detroit in his seventh State of the City Address Tuesday night. But he took the last five minutes to take shots at his critics, including TV stations, for what he called “a hate-filled, bigoted attack on his family” over the growing text-messaging scandal.
“In the past 30 days I have been called a n----- more than anytime in my entire life,” he said. “In the past three days I have received more death threats than I have in my entire administration. I've heard these words before, but I've never heard people say them about my wife and children. I don't believe that a Nielsen rating is worth the life of my children or your children. This unethical, illegal lynch-mob mentality has to stop.”
Kilpatrick was greeted by a standing ovation and shouts of “We love you Kwame” from the crowd of some 3,000 inside Orchestra Hall when he was introduced, in sharp contrast to the 50 or so protestors outside demanding his resignation. An emotional Kilpatrick ended his 70-minute speech to a standing ovation as well.
Kilpatrick has been under fire since text messages, revealed in a lawsuit by police whistleblowers, showed he had an affair with his then-chief of staff even though he denied it in court testimony. Next week the City Council plans to vote on a resolution asking him to resign over the scandal, in part because the council says it received false information from attorneys about why the mayor abruptly decided to settle the whistleblower case, costing the city millions of dollars.
On Monday, the scandal took on a new dimension as a retired police clerk swore in an affidavit that she saw a 2002 police report in which dancer Tamara Greene claimed she was attacked by the mayor's wife during a party at the city-owned Manoogian Mansion. Kilpatrick has denied such a party took place. Greene was later found murdered.
Adding more fuel to the Kilpatrick resignation chorus were comments Tuesday from Michigan Speaker of the House Andy Dillon, like Kilpatrick a Democrat, that the city can’t wait for the results of a criminal investigation and trial to resolve the text-messaging scandal.
But Kilpatrick tried to put that all behind him during his speech. While he made a few offhand references to the scandal -- at the beginning of the speech he referred to "the Kwame Kilpatrick roller coaster ride” -- he attempted to paint a picture of hope and optimism.
“Tonight we are at the dawn of an era of a new Detroit,” he said. “Detroit, this is our moment, and we are here to examine the state of Detroit.”
Kilpatrick highlighted the huge development projects that are transforming downtown, including the renovation of some 75 blighted buildings with millions of dollars in new investments. He also addressed the problems facing the city’s neighborhoods, offering a program called the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund. He plans to sell $300 million in new bonds to finance improvements.
He also highlighted police protection, saying he plans to deploy six new mobile police stations in recreational vehicles, and put 300 new police officers on the streets. “We are using technology to bring the police station to you,” he said.
He also outlined addressed juvenile crime with a plan for a residential boarding academy for troubled students, at the old Belle Isle Boat Club site, that would include a Navy ROTC program.
But at the end of his speech he appeared to catch many by surprise when he attacked his critics and said: “I humbly ask that we say 'no more' together."