Ferguson is at the center of many of the alleged schemes. The government says Kwame Kilpatrick intervened to get city work for his buddy by rigging contracts or insisting that other bidders hire Ferguson’s construction company.
Outside the downtown courthouse, the city Kilpatrick left behind is struggling.
His troubles rubbed off on his mother, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, who lost her U.S. House seat in 2010 after 14 years. Detroit’s population has dropped 25 percent to 714,000, much of it while Kilpatrick was mayor. Public schools are under the control of an emergency manager. Police officers are working 12-hour shifts with 10 percent pay cuts.
The current mayor, Dave Bing, fearing that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder would send a manager to take over City Hall, struck a deal last spring to fix the city’s poor finances with input from an outside board.
Bing said he doesn’t have much interest in the trial.
“I don’t have time for that,” he said last week while celebrating the rebirth of a century-old aquarium.
Kilpatrick has been under scrutiny for years. He pleaded guilty in 2008 to obstructing justice in a civil trial involving retaliation against police officers, a case that cost Detroit $8.4 million. A judge later sent him to prison for more than a year for violating his probation in that matter.
Councilman Ken Cockrel Jr., who was interim mayor following Kilpatrick’s 2008 resignation, said the sooner the corruption trial ends, the better. He recalled how a friend traveling out of state was repeatedly asked about Kilpatrick.
“Is that good for Detroit’s image? Probably not,” Cockrel said. “I’ve moved on. I think the people of Detroit, for the most part, have moved on as well. … Kwame Kilpatrick represents the past. We need to be looking toward the future.”
— Associated Press