Many years ago a tall striking woman in a red business suit and sneakers walked the streets of my old west side Detroit neighborhood knocking on doors and talking to anybody she could.
I was impressed by her presence, struck by her banter and mesmerized by her smile and gift for gab. It was the first time I laid eyes on a politician. Her name was Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick and later she’d be known as the mother of Detroit’s first hip hop mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
He’s in the news today because outgoing President Donald Trump commuted 28-year prison sentence for a racketeering and bribery scheme as Detroit’s mayor. Kilpatrick deserved jail time for his misdeeds. However, I thought his sentence was excessive for the crime he committed.
It tied Ohio county politician Jimmy Dimora for longest sentence for a corrupt politician.
Kilpatrick and Trump had a common bond. Both believed that the media was too harsh and made false statements about them. Both believe that their side of issues was under reported or buried.
Kilpatrick’s involvement in crime did not surprise me. His head wasn’t in the right place to be leader of Detroit. I interviewed him in an office building off Washington Blvd before he became mayor questioning his stance on parks and recreation and his experiences as a football player at Detroit Cass Tech and at FAMU.
He said he was motivated to serve as mayor after hanging out with San Francisco mayor and mentor Willie Brown. Kilpatrick marveled that Brown could stroll into any restaurant during peak hours and still get the best tables. Kilpatrick wanted to rule downtown Detroit in the same manner.
He didn’t mention anything about helping citizens until pressed.
During a text messaging scandal with mistress and aide Christine Beatty he became hot talk on my former radio show on 97.1 FM. We all knew what he did was wrong. But 28 years? That seemed to be a heavy handed sentence.
Then again seven years might not be enough.Find Terry Foster Podcast here: