Keeping Up With The Candidates, July 9

Less than a month before the primary, all of the candidates are ratcheting up the war machine, which means, of course, you are about to be bombarded with commercials. (It would be a good idea to invest in a digital video recorder if you don’t already have one.) At least they waited this long to ramp up the ads. According to Dawson Bell of the Detroit Free Press, the combined candidate spending on ads doesn’t approach anywhere near what Dick Devos spent by this point in 2006.

Not surprisingly, Mike Cox and Rick Snyder have spent the most on this campaign with varying levels of success. Cox entered the race as the leader and Snyder a relative unknown. Depending on what day of the week it is and who is doing the poll, Cox, Snyder and Pete Hoekstra are all relatively close in the GOP race, with Hoekstra usually leading but barely.

Hoekstra’s campaign has been famously hamstrung by taking public funds, thus limiting his ability to buy ads statewide. (Not that he needs to run them on the west side of the state.) But he has run an ad in selected markets titled “Get Out Of The Way” that is noteworthy for its lack of mudslinging. What it is not noteworthy for is any type of specific idea that he has that sets him apart from any of the other Republican candidates. It’s similar to the “One Tough Nerd” ad Snyder used to introduce himself, except that was in January.

Mike Bouchard, who distantly trails the other three in the polls, announced a plan for the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office to share info with Immigrations & Customs Enforcement to try to identify illegal immigrants in Michigan jails or facing charges. Not exactly the Arizona immigration law but some parties have argued it’s promoting racial/ethnic profiling, to which Bouchard responded on WJR [Audio link on the bottom of page.]:

What you’re talking about is someone who is an alien in this country and is arrested for something completely unrelated to status — rather they’re illegal or legal. And people don’t even want us to do that?  That tells you how stunning the disconnect between today’s realities are and the people that oppose that.

Now, I would never accuse a politician of trying to capitalize on an issue that is hot elsewhere but not so much here, except that I think I just did.

Kym Worthy called for parents who fail to appear for parent-teacher conferences to be jailed. The Michigan Messenger contacted all of the candidates for comment. As of Wednesday, only Hoekstra and Andy Dillon responded (TMM has no update on the post). Both expressed support for the idea that parents need to take an active role in their children’s education. However, Dillon questioned both the enforcement and effectiveness of such a policy.

The Speaker supports increased parental involvement in schools throughout the state, but does have some concerns about the implementation and enforcement of the authority requested by the Wayne County Prosecutor. In some cases, a parent who cannot attend a P/T conference does not always mean they aren’t engaged. The real question for parental involvement ultimately becomes more than just a single meeting – emphasis must be placed on maintaining parental involvement throughout the year on a more consistent basis.

After the debates of the last couple week, there wasn’t much news from the Democrats this week. The Livingston Daily did a fact check on claims of both Dillon and Virg Bernero and found, of course, both the truth and exaggerations have been told on both sides.

Bernero did get the endorsement of Planned Parenthood of Michigan and Michigan National Organization for Women.

Kathleen Gray of the Detroit Free Press wrote a piece on the difficulty that U.S. Rep Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick is having running in the shadow of the scandals engulfing her husband and son. (Do I really need to link them?) In addition to representing sections of Detroit, she also represents several Downriver communities like Wyandotte, where she marched in an Independence Day parade.

The piece discusses the difficulty she’s having with her family’s public problems and discusses the five people running to unseat her in the primary.  The fact that she has five opponents could be her saving grace:

But this year could be different, said Detroit political consultant Eric Foster.

“She’s got a very, very narrow margin for success,” he said. “She has a base of about 38% of support in the district. As long as one of the candidates can show themselves as a credible alternative to her, she could have a problem.”

He thinks voters in Detroit may be suffering from election fatigue after four mayoral elections in the last year, and that could help a non-Detroiter.

“A hard 70% outside of the city will break overwhelmingly to whoever is the credible alternative to Kilpatrick,” Foster said. “Right now, Hansen is the person to do that, but if Broad can get up on TV and radio, then it could break toward him.”

“Hansen” is state Senator Hansen Clarke and “Broad” is Grosse Pointe businessman John Broad, whom, the piece says, might have the largest war chest. (Wyandotte and Grosse Pointe? How large is this district?)

The others are pastor Glenn Plummer (not that Glenn Plummer), who has GOP ties (gave money to Bush’s campaign in 2003), former GOP Detroit mayorial and city council candidate Stephen Hume, and Vincent Brown of Garden City, who the piece says “worked in the auto industry for eight years and for the group Clean Water Action for two years.” (Grosse Pointe, Wyandotte and Garden City?!)

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This Week In Detroit Corruption

[This was originally going to be a Kwame Kilpatrick post. That was yesterday morning. Then the news just kept on rolling in…]

It’s sad that we’ve hit a point of oversaturation with Kwame Kilpatrick that we don’t post that much of what goes on with him anymore unless it’s particularly noteworthy, like his attorney plays the Patrick Ewing “We make a lot of money but we spend a lot of money” defense.

But this week, Detroit’s reputation is taking a worse beating than Jake Lamotta in Raging Bull. Not only did Kwame swoop back into town in the face of a new arrest warrant, but Monica Conyers and Sam Riddle are back in the news for their roles1 in the Synagro bribery scandal. Plus we have news of a federal investigation into Kilpatrick family kickbacks and the fallout from the Detroit Law Department’s complete and utter lack of professional ethics.2

1 Alleged! 2 Truth!

Kwame Kilpatrick just won’t go away. He’d like to, certainly, but on his own terms. Those terms undoubtedly include not going to jail, and probably not reimbursing the city either.

His endless attempts to stay out of jail for violating his parole by not paying restitution as ordered looked to be coming to an end. After the Court of Appeals denied his attempt to overturn Judge David Groner’s order to pay $70k by February 26, Kilpatrick filed a motion to have Groner removed for being biased against him. [Mlive]

“There’s nobody else in Michigan who’s been scrutinized like this ever in the history of this court,” he said.  “And I accept that, but I also want some fairness and somebody to be non-biased.”

This morning, Wayne County Circuit Court presiding criminal judge Timothy M. Kenny denied Kilpatrick’s motion. Rather than deal with Kilpatrick once and for all, Groner has scheduled his probation hearing for March 24, giving us two more weeks of this crap. [The Detroit News].

Monica Conyers is an absolutely nuts. After years of megalomaniacal displays, she managed to stay out of the spotlight for six months after pleading guilty to accepting cash for a vote in the city-wide Synagro scandal.

Then Wednesday, like Wyatt Earp in Tombstone, she returned… and brought hell with her. [The Detroit News]:

An angry Conyers, who surprised U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn by announcing she wanted to withdraw her guilty plea on bribery charges, unleashed a loud courtroom tirade against federal prosecutors and the news media.

“I’m just not going to jail for something I didn’t do,” said the former Detroit city councilwoman. Conyers left the courtroom saying: “I’m appealing this case” because Cohn had “no right to do that.”

She apparently thought she’d get a lighter sentence.

It was disclosed for the first time that Conyers has attempted to cooperate with government prosecutors. According to Cohn, prosecutors said they are still checking out information she gave them but so far do not feel it is valuable enough to warrant a reduced sentence.

Cohn’s courtroom was packed, with dozens of people, including FBI agents who investigated the case, unable to get a seat to watch the sentencing.

“It was one of the most bizarre courtroom experiences of my career,” said Conyers’ attorney, Steve Fishman, who is in his 37th year of practice. He told Cohn after the hearing he needs to withdraw from the case as he could be called as a witness in any appeal.

“No judge in my memory has allowed cooperation (with prosecutors) to go unrewarded,” Fishman said. “That’s essentially what he did.”

Though Fishman did not argue that Conyers should be allowed to withdraw her plea, he told Cohn she deserved a much lower sentence. Cohn, he said, should resist media drum-beating for a harsh sentence.

They’ve made Monica Conyers the human pinata for all that is wrong with Detroit,” he said.

I’d bet Kwame probably disagrees with that statement. But even if it’s true, I’d say that Conyers has done a pretty good job of that all by herself.

Conyers also wanted Cohn and everyone else to think about the children:

Before the sentencing was announced, a strange series of events transpired, highlighted by Conyers’ request to withdraw her guilty plea. She was screaming that she had her own tapes that would exonerate her before the sentence was announced. She also yelled “What about my children? They did nothing to cause this!” before the sentence announced.

Also,Cohn disclosed today that his sentence was lighter than he had planned for it to be.

Monica’s old partner-in-alleged-crime Sam Riddle is back in the news, finally picking a new attorney who will take his case (and announcing it on Twitter): former DOJ attorney Richard Convertino. Now he needs to find another juror who believes he didn’t do it. [Detroit Free Press].

The Kilpatrick family’s troubles extend beyond Kwame, of course. A grand jury is looking into accusations that Karl Kado paid Kwame, his father Bernard Kilpatrick, and his chief administrative officer Derrick A. Miller. The Detroit News has a transcript. The FBI is preparing federal charges, possibly racketeering, against Kwame.

Whether this is related to previous matter is yet to be revealed, but Kwame’s mother, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, and her aide, Andrea Bragg, have been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in Detroit.  Bragg said she’s coming but Carolyn? She’s going to talk to her attorney to see how she’ll respond. But with her son and husband involved in that investigation… [UPDATE: Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick said that she and Bragg will cooperate with the grand jury. She also said that she is “not a target.”]

The worst part is that I could go on. The Freep has a comprehensive list of the other scandals with which the city is still dealing.

The Joker (circa 1989) summed it up best:

This town needs an enema.”