Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Public should hold politicians accountable

I'm aware that we all fall short of our ideals and make horribly bad decisions at times. Also, I understand the impulse we have to defend our reputation, and try to minimize the legal consequences of our behavior. However, we as a people through our government need to hold people publicly accountable for their actions. They have a right to resist, and we have a moral duty to determine and uphold high moral standards.

Recently, the mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick was caught in an affair with a staffer. He now says he won't quit:

from usatoday:

DETROIT — Addressing the text-message scandal for the first time tonight as he held hands with wife Carlita, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick apologized repeatedly to residents, supporters, opponents, his wife and his sons for what he called "the embarrassment and disappointment" of the past few days. But he said emphatically he will not resign.
"I would never quit on you, ever," Kilpatrick said in a televised speech. "We've got a lot of work to do. And with your help, I am going to continue to lead this city in getting the work done."
Appearing subdued and at times somber in a dramatic moment of recent city history, the mayor said, "To all of you who have believed in what we have been doing in this city since 2002, to all of you who have believed in me and my leadership, to all of you who have stuck with me through difficult times, to all of you who have prayed for me, I'm sorry."
Taking her turn, Carlita Kilpatrick talked about the pain of the past few days and acknowledged she and her husband have encountered problems.
"Like all marriages, ours is not perfect," she said. "But through our commitment to God and each other, my husband and I will get through this. Yes, I am angry, I am hurt, and I am disappointed. But there is no question I love my husband."
Monday Detroit Mayor Detroit Free Press Kwame Kilpatrick Christine Beatty
Mayor Kilpatrick declined to talk about any specifics of the controversy, saying, "Because there are legal matters pending at this moment, unfortunately I am unable to discuss any of those issues at this time."
The mayor mostly has been out of sight since last Wednesday, when the Detroit Free Press reported that he and his then chief of staff, Christine Beatty, lied under oath about having a romantic relationship and about firing Deputy Chief Gary Brown.
The testimony took place last year in a police whistle-blower case that cost the city more than $9 million. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced last week that her office has opened an investigation.
Kilpatrick did not mention Beatty in the speech. She resigned Monday.
"Most of all tonight, I want to make a public apology to my entire family, and specifically to the four people who I love the most in this world," said the mayor, returning to the only theme of the 12-minute speech.
"First, I want to apologize to my sons, Jelani, Jalil and Jonas. For the first time in my life I had to have a conversation with my 12-year-old twin sons about very grown up things. It was, without a doubt, the hardest conversation that I've ever had in my entire life.
"Finally, and most importantly, I want to make a public apology to my wife, Carlita, who I fell in love with when I was 19 years old. We decided to build a family together and we did that. Our marriage has not been perfect, but it has been great."
The Kilpatricks spoke in a mostly empty banquet room in the Greater Emmanuel Institutional Church of God in Christ on the city's west side, where they regularly worship. There was no audience on hand, and reporters were barred from the speech, which was aired live on Detroit radio and television.
The Kilpatricks talked in detail about their marriage, and the way it has been opened for public view.
"This has been a situation where, yes, it's been embarrassing, yes it's been painful," the mayor said. "But through all of that, through the grace of God, we've also had a feeling of thankfulness and freedom. We have committed to moving forward together to make our marriage better and stronger."
Kilpatrick said last weekend was the first time since he took office in 2002 that he put everything on hold and focused only on his family. He said he understood people have been wanting to hear from him, but he had to attend to his loved ones.
"I want to thank the people of Detroit for their patience in allowing us that time. We as a family needed to do that," he said.
Kilpatrick said he told his sons that when you make a mistake, "you learn from it, you get up, you dust yourself off, and you keep moving forward."
He added: "Detroit, I am determined that we will keep moving forward. I am determined to continue the tremendous progress we are making in this city.
For a moment, Kilpatrick switched into what seemed like campaign mode, noting Detroit was making progress even in the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression.
"Detroit, together we have managed to do great things," he said. "We have paved more streets than ever. We have built more new houses than ever. We have balanced our budget and wiped out a $300 million deficit. We have developed 75 buildings downtown, large and small. We have built seven new hotels. We have built three new rec centers in neighborhoods that had not seen rec centers in 20 years. We are building out our riverfront. And we are not stopping now.
"Detroit, please continue to pray for our family, for our city and our continued progress," he said.
"God bless you Detroit. I love you," the mayor said in conclusion. "I'll see you at work tomorrow."

Political supporters of the mayor should demand some consequences for his behavior. If not removal from office something that would make this situation not desirable for the next person so tempted. That these issues are often pushed aside or minimized is a failing of the past generation. We have to start somewhere.

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