Scandals, misappropriation of funds and incompetence. These are many of the types of things that come along with a story on Kwame Kilpatrick. He’s been rated as one of the worst mayor’s in the country and the us versus them war using Kilpatrick and Oakland County Commissioner, L. Brooks Patterson, as figureheads is all most suburbanites, like myself, really know about Detroit’s 30 something mayor.
If you were to ask most of us from the Detroit suburbs if we were knowledgeable enough to judge Kilpatrick as a mayor we’d most likely say of course. We hear about him almost on a weekly basis, and often times even more frequently. But if you were to ask most of us if we have ever heard him speak, in any capacity aside from a Steve Wilson, yellow journalism sound bite, we probably couldn’t say we had.
Friday we were ready for just that. I heard him speak at the State of the City address, and I thought it was pretty good, but anyone can make a speech sound good, right? Well Friday I was shocked. Expecting a swendling disingenuine spin doctor to show up, I was confronted with someone completely different. I was confronted with Kwame Kilpatrick. The real Kwame Kilpatrick. It was a straight forward, seemingly honest (for a politician at least), completely competent individual who spoke of a vision for the city that lined up with my own.
He answered our questions without, to steal a piece of Quicken jargon, ARP’ing us. He explained how many of the situations the city was dealing with were issues that were put into motion before he even came to office. He said he simply didn’t know, when question came that he didn’t know about and he gave us the contact information of his personal asstant just in case we ever needed to contact him.
Now, I’m not saying that I’m going to run up to Ink Slingers and get Kwame’s name tattooed on my forehead. I’m not even completely saying if I was in the city I’d 100% vote for the guy. When he explained why we were selling our portion of the tunnel to Canada the numbers didn’t work out in a realistic fashion as to how many Americans use the tunnel each day. I think it worked out to something like 1 car every 6 minutes. But what I am saying, is smelling the breathe directly from the horses mouth came out a lot more fresh than the stories I’ve been told. The meeting with Kwame last Friday reminded me how important it is not to trust anyone who’s telling me it’s black or it’s white when I know it’s always a hue of grey.