What the Kilpatrick Verdict Means for Sterling Heights
Today, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was found guilty after 14 days of jury deliberations on the testimony during his Federal RICO Act trial. Facing up to 20 years in prison, Mr. Kilpatrick will now pay for his crimes against the public trust, having illegally diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money to himself and his family. We in Sterling Heights should take note: what happens in the anchor city of our region directly impacts us.
First and foremost, congratulations should go to the Federal Prosecutors for their achievement. Although the Federal Government frequently deserves the bad reputation it has, obviously they have succeeded in bringing Mr. Kilpatrick to justice.
What is even more noteworthy, however, is that the jury chose to side with the prosecution even in the face of Mr. Kilpatrick’s inarguable charisma and popularity with a substantial segment of Detroit’s electorate. Jury nullification is always a possibility in high profile cases, and it would not have been difficult to imagine it happening in this case. The fact that it didn’t indicates to me that there is likely a substantial portion of Detroit’s electorate that is on the side of law and order, that wants to hold its politicians accountable for their actions, and that looks beyond allegations of racial bias in determining the facts of a criminal prosecution. Hurray and bravo to those jury members for that: surely they will suffer more than their fair share of public disdain as a result of their courage.
Sterling Heights is, unfortunately, not a city that could exist without the infrastructure provided by the City of Detroit, at least without a massive investment which we could not afford to make. Our water and sewage treatment is dependent upon those respective departments in Detroit. Our road system and industrial base is an artifact of the economic engine Detroit formerly represented. Our health as a city is thus dependent upon the health of Detroit; without a vibrant core city, Sterling Heights will never be everything it could or should be. If you don’t think so, check your home’s valuation and compare it to what it was when Mr. Kilpatrick first took office. Our plummeting home valuations and corresponding loss of tax revenue is related to Detroit’s misfortune. It would be a stretch to say that Mr. Kilpatrick is entirely to blame, but that his criminal malfeasance contributed to the situation is to me, at least, without doubt.
Kwame Kilpatrick belongs in jail. Without his pending incarceration, the future of the rule of law in the City of Detroit would be uncertain. If the rule of law is uncertain, so too is the health of every city in the region. Today’s verdict portends hope for the city, and by extension, the future of Sterling Heights.