LeDuff: All the canapés in the world can't cover the sour taste of Detroit in free fall

July 28, 2021, 10:57 PM by  Charlie LeDuff

Kwame Kilpatrick and bride Laticia McGee at the church (Photo: Rebecca Cook)

It was the social event of the season, Detroit's version of the Hamptons polo party. The second marriage of disgraced former mayor and ex-con Kwame Kilpatrick. 

It was a ticket every self-respecting fast man would kill for -- a wedding at the Historic Little Rock Baptist Church and a reception at the Hotel St. Regis on West Grand Boulevard. There was Kilpatrick's contractor pal Bobby Ferguson, recently freed from prison, chatting last weekend near the crudites. And there stood the erstwhile teenage cocaine drug dealer "White Boy Rick," aka Richard Wershe Jr. – looking smooth and tan, our little bird tells us, holding court with a group of well-wishers. (How does a guy who's been imprisoned since he was 17 have six grandchildren, anyway?)

Mayor Duggan and fiance Dr. Sonia Hassan (Photo: Rebecca Cook)

And who was that? There, being guarded by his security detail: Current Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, recently cleared by the state attorney general for playing favorites with public funds while staff destroyed about 150 emails to conceal his relationship with the doctor who received those funds for her prenatal health care program, "Make Your Date."

No more concealing the doctor now. There they were were, Hizzoner and the Healer, newly engaged, invited to the actual wedding itself!

Kilpatrick and Duggan go back a long way. But why would Duggan attend the nuptials of a predecessor who was sent to the federal penitentiary for robbing the children of Detroit?

Imagine then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani attending a birthday party for John Gotti Jr.

Bad look. But nobody tells the rainmaker – with all the campaign money and no serious challenger – what to do.

Look closely, things are running off the rails in the “Comeback City.”

After weeks of lying about the Great Detroit Flood of 2021, the truth finally came out. It wasn't an act of God that flooded the basements of 30,000 homes, as the mayor wanted you to believe.

It was an act of incompetence. The massive sewage pumps simply didn't work. And you have to blame that on Duggan, who with the board votes effectively controls the regional water authority, and the appointments of unqualified cronies to run it.

Apparently those cronies were unaware that a major pumping plant on the east side had been without power for two full days before the torrential rain of June 25. And without power for four days after.

Water executives say they were unaware. Once that news got out, our little bird tells us, Duggan informed director Sue McCormick she had to go. Suburban stakeholders in the water system say they only learned of McCormick's resignation on the 11 o'clock news.

No one tells the rainmaker when to make it rain.

Those regional partners wonder if a true national search will be conducted for a truly competent and independent director for the sprawling system.

“I'm not counting on it,” said one official. “Water is where the money and the contracts are at.”

Just ask Kwame.

Meanwhile, at DPD headquarters

And then there's the widening rape investigation within Detroit Police Department. There is very tangible evidence, two sources confirm, that police officials at the highest levels were aware of rape allegations made against a commanding officer at least two years ago by a subordinate officer, but they did not refer it to Internal Affairs. Other female officers have since come forward, alleging sexual improprieties against the same man. Department officials acknowledge an “investigation is ongoing.”

Even with violent crime exploding in the Motor City over the past three years, Duggan has been content to let the police department run on autopilot. This may be a scandal even he can't dodge.

Corruption on council

Councilman Andre Spivey

And now comes news that Duggan's right hand man on City Council has been charged with public corruption. The feds accuse council member Andre Spivey of taking $35,000 in a bribery scheme. He's expected to plead guilty.

This comes after Duggan's left-hand man, Gabe Leland, resigned and pleaded guilty to misconduct in office for accepting $15,000 cash and free car repairs from a Detroit businessman. Spivey and Leland could always be trusted for an important vote.

One would think there would be a tinge of panic in the corridors of City Hall since Spivey's attorney says his client has been cooperating with the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office.

Who knows? Once you get beyond the fairytale wedding parties, once you look past the shiny, half-empty buildings downtown, you see a city in free fall.

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You can hear Charlie LeDuff every week on the No BS Newshour podcast

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