- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 13, 2008

The walls are crumbling for embattled Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who is under increasing pressure to resign over his role in a police whistleblower settlement scandal that many say is paralyzing the already struggling city.

High-profile critics have been lining up to call for Mr. Kilpatrick’s resignation. The latest is Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, a Republican who told a Detroit radio station yesterday that the mayor is a liar who lost the public trust in using the race card at a Tuesday night State of the City speech.

“It was race-baiting on par with David Duke and George Wallace — all to save his political career,” Mr. Cox said in an interview on talk-radio station WJRAM.

Mr. Kilpatrick, a Democrat, is under investigation for reportedly lying in sworn testimony in a police whistleblower trial about an affair with his chief of staff and a secret $8.4 million settlement he brokered without the City Council’s knowledge,

On Wednesday, three top Detroit-area business leaders met with Mr. Kilpatrick to discuss the current situation facing the city. Though they didn’t call for him to leave, they let him know that his remarks, asserting that his detractors displayed a “lynch-mob mentality” and used the “n-word,” were polarizing to the city, which is struggling to revive itself amid significant economic woes.

The mayor, through his spokesman, reiterated yesterday that he would not resign and would continue to push forward his agenda for growth. However, his time in office may be limited. The City Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to order Mr. Kilpatrick, along with his former chief of staff and suspected mistress, Christine Beatty, as well as others involved in the police whistleblower settlement case to appear before the City Council.

Council members, meeting after Mr. Kilpatrick blamed race and the news media for his legal and political problems, said if the mayor did not comply, they would use subpoena power to force him and other figures in the scandal to appear before them in an effort to resolve the matter.

Even as the calls for him to “Just go!” continued outside his speech, Mr. Kilpatrick, giving the annual State of the City message Tuesday night, strayed from prepared text in the last portion of his remarks to fight back angrily against his detractors, saying that he and his family have been the victims of attacks fueled by racial hatred.

Mr. Kilpatrick, who in 2001 became Detroit’s youngest mayor at 31, blamed the news media for his ongoing woes and said he had been called that racial slur more now than at any time in his life.

“I’ve heard these words before, but I’ve never heard people say them about my wife and my children,” Mr. Kilpatrick said to an invited group of about 1,500 even as about 200 mostly union-affiliated protesters gathered outside downtown’s Orchestra Hall to demand his resignation. “This unethical, illegal lynch-mob mentality has to stop.”

Mr. Kilpatrick, who has apologized for hurting his family but angered many by what they say is his hubris in a scandal that has shaken the blighted city, also signaled this week that he is preparing for a long fight. He hired high-profile Chicago lawyer Dan K. Webb, a former U.S. attorney, as well as Washington, D.C., crisis public relations consultant Judy Smith of Impact Strategies. She represented Monica Lewinsky in the aftermath of her affair with President Clinton.

Sam Riddle, a Detroit political consultant who previously campaigned for the mayor, has called Mr. Kilpatrick’s tactics divisive and said his outburst at the end of his remarks showed his true colors.

“The use of the ‘n’ word was a desperate act by a very desperate man in an attempt to divide us and move us into the political dark ages,” said Mr. Riddle, who called on the mayor to follow New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s lead and resign.

The City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on a resolution asking the mayor to resign. At Tuesday night’s speech, half of the council refused to sit onstage with Mr. Kilpatrick in a symbolic show of mounting concern over the scandal. Council President Kenneth V. Cockrel sat in the audience for the speech and was publicly called out by the mayor. Mr. Cockrel would become the city’s new mayor in the event Mr. Kilpatrick left office.

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