?

Log in

No account? Create an account
WTF?!

Interesting Kwame Kilpatrick commentary






Questions and Answers - Mayor Kilpatrick
freep.com [link]
July 19, 2005

Question: How do you think a second Kilpatrick term would look substantively different from the first Kilpatrick term?

Answer: It'd be a lot different. I thought 2002 would be about building on the success of Dennis Archer and Coleman Young. That we had come to a financial place in our history where we were OK and we could actually just move forward. ...

What I found was that that was grossly inaccurate. ... Our national image still was very much in the tank, we had to really do a lot to aggressively go after businesses and position ourselves. ... We had to really get our house in order as far as putting an operational management team together for city services.

Our contracts in city employment were horrible and regressive. Our police department was under federal consent decree. ...

So Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, at that time, did very little outreach. I actually had to change my personality to fit what was going on in the city. ... I figured I could be a good politician (but) I didn't know at that time if I could put a strong team together and be a good manager. And so I totally focused my attention on the inside of city government, structurally changing operations. ...

Moving forward, I believe we're in a better fiscal place. ... We can start now on making the big ideas happen.


Q: How can you say the city is in a better place given the deficit and looming layoffs?

A: Because we're being honest with ourselves, we're not lying anymore. ...

Sure we have some budget issues, we have a general fund that's in some need of some help. But we've made, I believe, some very aggressive tough decisions and smart decisions ... to bring us into balance. ...

Everybody now knows and acknowledges that we have to do some things differently. ... I believe the difference now is we're talking about long-term structural change ... and a lot of other things that we hadn't talked about before. But I think it's better because we're now doing things better: We're picking up trash better; we're fixing streets better; we're cutting grass better. ... The city is in a lot different and better place.


Q: How will you improve your relations with the City Council in a second term?

A: We need to, desperately. ... One, it's so hard to engage our City Council when you have tough issues because you have nine independent contractors. They don't have a leader -- they have a president, but they don't have a leader. And since they don't elect their leadership, you cannot talk to the president and get anybody's vote. ... Then you also have the factions on council. You have two sides of council that essentially hate each other, and you don't want to be in the middle of that. ...

Where we did a bad job ... it's in not involving them in the education process of the budget. Now there's some people there that wouldn't show up if we invited them 20 million times; there's some people that wouldn't care no matter what information we sent -- they'd still say they didn't get it. But there are some genuine people sitting at that table who are interested in good information. ...

Lastly, there needs to be districts. Until we get a district or a ward system in the city of Detroit you're not going to have cognitive, positive deliberation at the table.


Q: Knowing what you know now about the attention that you draw as the mayor of Michigan's largest city, would you have conducted yourself any differently in your first term?

A: Personally, no. ...

There've been a lot of things that have been said about me that are absolutely untrue, written about me. For the most part, I've become a very boring person. ...

And now the legend of Kwame Kilpatrick, which is this guy that really hangs out and does all this stuff, is bigger than I could ever be.


Q: You think your reputation problem is essentially undeserved?

A</b>: I don't think I have a reputation problem singularly. ... I think that the reputation problem of African-American men has stuck to me.


Q: How did the city get to this financial point? Should you not have fixed this budget situation sooner?

A: Three big issues why our budget is where it is.

We have ... a $240-million pension payment, which is $177 million more than it was three years ago. ... Next year's payment in 2006 for police and fire alone will be $140 million to $160 million. If we don't get some concessions on the pension payment, we'll be gone. ...

The second reason is health benefits. Now I know we're singing the same song these companies are singing, but ... my payment this year on health benefits was $120 million more than it was three years ago. ...

And then the last one is revenue sharing cuts. Now mind you when I came in we had a 10-year deal. ... And then three weeks before (former Gov.) John Engler left office, he said I'm cutting your revenue sharing. ...

We're tied to that revenue sharing deal with a one-tenth of 1% decrease of the income taxes in the city of Detroit ... so we got cut that first year about $13 million plus the $23 million we lost in income tax. We said, cool, we have a Democratic governor, it won't happen again. Well, the great Democratic governor, we love her, she cut us two more times. We've lost $130 million on that deal in three years.

So if you add up 130, 177 and 120, you're well over $400 million. ...

We're cutting overtime 43%. It was $98 million when I walked into office -- every year, overtime in the city of Detroit. No grass was getting cut, no snow was getting shoveled, no streets were getting fixed, but overtime was $98 million. Now it's down under $50 million last year, and we're trying to get it to under $40 million this year.

Cutting contracts, the use of outside contractors in areas that we didn't need them. ... There was $98 million in uncollected property taxes; we went after that. ... We did parking ticket amnesty; we did all this stuff. ...

I believe that our men and women who serve in the city, because they get twisted around by their leadership in the labor unions a lot, they needed to see us doing everything we possibly could (before issuing layoffs).

And so we removed over 4,000 positions from city government in 3 1/2 years -- and that's over 2,700 people.


Q: Other candidates say the way to balance the budget is through further cuts ...

</b>A: That's because they're nuts, that's the first thing. ... You can't cut your way out of this, can't do it. Impossible. ... In order for us to be a city, we have to deliver some core services.

We're trying to stabilize the population, we're trying to come up with a new land use plan, we're building 7,400 houses, which is more than we built in 50 years, and some of those people are going to want you to sweep around their front door. And so you can cut the public employee that does that, but the sweeping has to happen. ...

It sounds so good to say let's cut, but there has to be revenue enhancement in the plan somewhere. ... We've been in conversations with our casinos ... a 2% deal on gross receipts from the casinos after 2006. And I negotiated $40 more million from them for a business development fund. ...

Unless there's a serious discussion in this town about additional revenue, we're not going to be able to cut. ... Because we've got to sweep the streets, pick up the trash, cut the grass and make people safe and put out fires. (If) we can't do those five things, we've got to close up.

Q: Now that the city is going back to the old school board system, do you just divorce yourself from the district?

A: Can't. Absolutely not.


Q: So what's your role?

A: I think the role is ... better coordination for the physical plan so it's consistent with whatever else is going on in the community. ... So where we're building new schools, where we're shutting down schools, how do we get those schools in the hands of churches and nonprofit organizations, of developers? ...

The second thing is ... we need to start to ... use some nonprofit organization to start to present every year the top 25 schools at each grade level in the city at each elementary, middle and high school, whether they're public, private, parochial or anything else. I think it would help the school system for parents to know that these are successful schools in the city. ...

And then lastly, security. I think that the city needs to play a major role in security, which is why I proposed to the school system that (Wayne County) Sheriff (Warren) Evans take over the patrol there.


Q: Do you think the business community still has confidence in you?

A: Yeah, I think the business community knows that as far as someone who can move a plan and get it done, I'm the person to do it. I think if they had their druthers, they'd probably dream of the perfect person ... but I'm the perfect person for right now.


Q: What makes you perfect right now?

A: By the grace of God or whatever it is, I've been given the educational background and the political experience and the public service experience for this job. ...

I see people that want to be mayor, but being mayor -- I don't truly believe people understand the depth of the situations that you have to deal with on a daily basis and the knowledge that you truly have to have of the political process.


Q: Are you competing against other candidates or against yourself?

A: This is Kwame Kilpatrick vs. Kwame Kilpatrick. ...

People are sitting, I believe, and they're trying to decide whether they want Kwame Kilpatrick or not.

And I think that our job is to help them realize that we're OK -- that with all of our successes, with all of our flaws, that we care very deeply about this city and we're passionate about finishing what we started and we're the right people to do it.


He really does have some good ideas, but it pisses me off that he lets his arrogance get in the way of the good he has the potential to do for the city. His head is so swollen that there is no way he could be of any positive service to the city now. That saddens me.
Tags: ,

Comments

The underdog guy has some good things to say as well in today's (7/20) paper. Hansen Clarke.

Yeah.

I saw that. I'm planning on posting his as well. The thing that strikes me most about the underdog is his attempts to sound more humble than Kilpatrick. It makes me wonder how calculated his image is.