Kwame Kilpatrick: The Verdict

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The hot topic in Detroit these days is Kwame Kilpatrick found guilty of several counts of racketeering and bribery. Many will see March 12th as a turning point in Detroit history.  I don’t see it that way.  Some see it as a sad day for the City of Detroit.  I don’t see it that way either.

I watched the trial with some interest.  I couldn’t help it. The news wouldn’t talk about anything else. Where ever Kwame went, there were cameras capturing his every step. Those steps will turn out to be  some of his last as a free man.  Kwame knew this day was coming.  The Federal Government had been watching him since 2002. The evidence was overwhelming. All he could do was lower his head and place his hand on his forehead.  Kwame once claimed “It will be impossible for me to get a fair trial in Detroit. I would  come out better if they hung me from that giant fist downtown”. The reality of the situation dealt him a crushing blow. The king of Detroit has fallen.

I lowered my head and put my hand on my forehead as well.  Why? Because I couldn’t believe what I was hearing afterwards. I understood those who sympathized with Kwame. Outside of his mischief, Kwame was a very charismatic and hands on mayor(No pun intended). He made himself accessible to the public and helped bring the Super Bowl to Detroit. Dave Bing Recently turned down an opportunity for Detroit to host the Olympics. Detroit was blissfully happy while Kwame was in office.  The recession proved that Detroit’s Bliss overshadowed its ever-increasing debt.

What I didn’t understand was the media blaming Detroit’s problems all on Kwame. I watched as news broadcast after news broadcast covered the verdict as if Detroit had finally won a war against its worst enemy. Some stations went as far to proclaim this day as a victory for Detroit. How? I don’t see any winners. Detroit is still broke and Kwame lost his freedom. Channel 7 news said that including Kwame, 35 people have been indicted under his administration.  As they scrolled the names of the people and their charge or charges across the screen, I made a observation. They included City Council members and a few of their appointees as well. City Council members are elected by the people, not Kwame.  At least 20 of the 35 mentioned had nothing to do with Kwame’s corruption case. Yet the news says it’s all under Kwame.  This reporting has some people convinced that Detroit is where it is today because of Kwame.

I have a hard time believing that one man caused Detroit to be in the condition that it is in today. Kwame Kilpatrick stepped down in September of 2008.  So in 4 1/2 years nobody did anything to improve the city of Detroit. Blaming Kwame should have ended a long time ago. Now the Verdict for Detroit: Guilty and sentenced to an Emergency Financial Manager for 18 months. Holla if you hear me!

-K Greene

Kwame Kilpatrick: Part 2

I have to admit when Kwame opened the question and answer session by saying “Let’s get it on!”, I expected a Q & A of epic proportions.  Kwame was offering himself for every journalist in the room to feast on.  I could see the look in the eyes of my fellow journalists.  They were hungry and their pens were at the ready.  What did we get?  Slim pickings.  Kwame did not waver.  He answered each question comfortably and completely.  His answers did not bear anymore information that wasn’t already known.  The only time he seemed slightly rattled is when he was asked questions concerning his mom, former State Representative Carolyn Cheeks-Kilpatrick.  This was understandable.  He explained it to all in the room.  ” The two worst days of my life.” as the former mayor recalls, “The first was explaining the affair to my kids and the second was laying in a prison cell knowing that my mom lost the election because of me”.

The remorse on his face was apparent.  He said it was at that point when he realized what his actions cost the city.  His mother had done so much for the city of Detroit and now that champion for the city is out of office.  He said at that time, “I cried like a baby”.  It finally got to him.  The disappointment the citizens of Detroit felt in his actions, he now felt in himself. It was that moment that opened his eyes.  He began to realize what he had and how much damage his decisions had done.

Kwame spends his time speaking around the country.  Even speaking at T.D. Jake’s “ManPower” conference.  Kwame maintain that he wants to help young men avoid the path he took.  He feels that he didn’t deal with his inner demons before he got into office and they got the better of him.  Kwame maintains that this cost him more than anything, Not youth or inexperience.  To this day, Kwame maintains that he cannot be forgiven here in Detroit.  It doesn’t matter  how much he claims that he has changed.  Kwame said  “I don’t believe I can get a fair trial here in Detroit.” when asked about his up coming Federal  trial .  “I would be better off if they hung me from the giant fist downtown” Kwame jokes.

I think he might be right in a way,  This was made evident but the number of journalist that turned out.  People still place the blame at his feet.  As leader of this city, he failed.   In the court of Public Opinion, he has been found guilty.  His word is no longer above reproach and his name vilified in Detroit history,   That’s where we should leave him.  If there was one thing that I can take from him, that would be that we have to let him go mentally as a city.  Kwame was absolutely right about that,  Until we do that, we will never move forward and identify the real problems of our city,  Holla if you hear me!

-K. Greene

Just Plain Wrong

First of all, I want to give Detroit’s city lawyer Corporate Counsel Krystal Crittendon a round of applause.  When it was time to look out for Detroit’s best interest, she stepped up and filed a lawsuit on its behalf.  The city charter clearly states that Detroit cannot enter into a contract with its debtors.  That contract being the current Consent Agreement with the state.  In December of last year, Bing and the City Council told everyone the state owed the city of Detroit $284.6 million on live TV.  It is that $284.6 million that is the source of contention in Crittendon’s lawsuit.  Under the city charter, Detroit cannot enter into a Consent Agreement with the state because they owe the city of Detroit a large chunk of money!  However, Mayor Bing has now changed his tune.

Detroit will not pursue the money he (Bing) once said the state owes the city.  We need to borrow $80 million from the state or we go broke, the state is going to take over Belle Isle, and the state fair has gone to Novi.  Oh, and because Krystal Crittendon filed a lawsuit to stop this process, Mayor Bing is looking to remove her from office because she would not resign.  What is his reason?  Krystal Crittendon’s legal challenge adversely affected Detroit’s bond rating and ability to finance its ongoing operations, which could cost millions of dollars.  In short; What Governor Snyder wants, he gets!

That is the major reason why Detroit can’t get over the hump.  Those who were elected to fight for it continue to sell it out and those who do the right thing are made the villains.  The people no longer trust their leadership and I don’t blame them.  Crittendon’s challenge to the Consent Agreement was the right thing to do for the people.  If Detroit is to have a Consent Agreement, it is only right that it does not go against the city charter.  It is appalling that she must now lose her job.   Without Crittendon’s challenge, Snyder and Bing are free to go after Detroit’s union contracts.  That is really what this is all about.  More pay cuts and job losses for Police, Firemen, and city workers.  That in itself is a damn shame! Holla if you hear me!

-K. Greene

Bing vs Snyder Who’s For Us?

I had a great blog that I was ready to share with all of you when I got a media alert from the City of Detroit.  That alert was shared on Facebook as well. They wanted everybody to know that Mayor Bing has had it! Mayor Bing has stated that he is not in favor of Governor Snyder’s Consent Agreement plans for the city of Detroit. In fact, Bing claims Snyder has been disingenuous the whole time.  WOW, YOU DON’T SAY?!

I admit it.  I was ready to blast Mayor Bing for giving up on recovering $220 million in funds that he said was owed to the city by the state.  Also he was ready to accept state assistance in handling Detroit’s current financial crisis citing several meetings with Governor Snyder.  All that has changed now and the Governor’s plans have been exposed.

Mayor Bing is so upset that the word “disingenuous” appears often in this media alert.  If you go to thesaurus.com and punch in “disingenuous”, you get the following synonyms; deceitful, artful, cunning, tricky, false, dishonest, sly, unfair, two-faced, underhanded to name a few.  The word “disingenuous” appears in three out the six paragraphs comprising the media alert! Governor Snyder must be one disingenuous rascal! I knew that from day one.

Prior to being elected Governor, Snyder did not campaign anywhere near Detroit.  Snyder refused to even debate in Detroit.  So it doesn’t surprise me one bit that his Consent Agreement contains some very disturbing details.  Governor Snyder said that the agreement leaves the elected officials in charge but this is not the case. Here’s a quote from the media alert:

“He’s being disingenuous when he says this agreement leaves elected officials in charge of the City. In fact, the proposed, nine-member advisory board selects and “oversees” the functions of the City’s COO, CFO and Human Resources director – not the elected Mayor.  This proposal also circumvents the role and power of the City Council as the legislative body, waives the ability of elected officials to contest any aspect of the agreement, and dismisses the unprecedented effort and concessions made by the City’s labor unions to avoid an economic catastrophe.”

Detroiters do not want a state takeover but I feel it may be in evitable in some shape or form.  The city is still losing money and people are still losing jobs.  Nobody trusts Governor Snyder but we may have no choice. Holla if you hear me!

-K. Greene

A Prayer For My City

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Dear Lord,

I come to you on behalf of thousands who are in need.  For all those who have lost much and gained little.  For all those who have worked hard but rewarded with less.  For every man, woman, and child in Detroit abused or distressed.

 I pray for their hearts: May they be strengthened.  That they remain encouraged and strong in weathering our social and financial storm.  So they may find comfort in one another.

 I pray for their minds: May they be open to change.  Stimulate their thirst for knowledge and wisdom. 

 I pray for their homes: May they be allowed to keep them.  They need a safe place to rest their weary bodies and minds.  A place to shield and nurture their children. Keep the greed of banks at bay.  Instruct the banks in the ways of forgiveness and mercy.  

  Lord I pray for the Police and Fire Departments that you may bless their work.  Let them know that they are making a difference in spite of the pay cuts and sacrifices they had to make. 

I pray for the prosperity of my city. We need back the jobs that were taken by greed and selfishness. We need our school system returned to health so our children can be inspired by new books and teachers.  May old tattered books be a thing of the past.  Pass your blessings to teachers willing to teach and instruct our children. 

I pray that your hand spreads throughout our streets and wipe away the stench of murder and grief.  That tears of sorrow be replaced by smiles of hope. I pray that differences be put aside and instead of hands grabbing weapons; hands working together for the good of us all!   In all these things I pray, AMEN!

   Pray if you hear me!

                              – K. Greene

Detroit 2012

I look forward to a very prosperous New Year every year, but this year, I am taking it a lot more seriously.  I always expect to build on the success of the prior year but 2011 was a little different.  Prosperity was hard to come by in the City of Detroit last year.

Detroit may have seen the worst of the economic downturn.  Some actually found work but at a lesser pay and many struggled to acquire even half of their former salary.  Some chose to leave Detroit altogether.  In 2012,  a lot more people will join those who left Detroit in 2011;  including close friends and family whom I will miss dearly.  2012 has to be a year of success for them even if that means success lies elsewhere.  After what I have seen in 2011, I can’t blame them one bit.

I saw a lot of frustration in 2011.  You all were making Hollaifyouhearme popular but I felt like I hadn’t accomplished enough.  The more people I talked to the more I heard the same thing.  The people in Detroit felt the same way I did throughout 2011.  Everybody had the sense of needing more no matter what they may have accomplished.  People gave thanks for what they had on Thanksgiving but the amount of money they had to spend on Christmas expenses couldn’t meet expectations.  Many people cancelled their usual trips to see loved ones in order to save money.  By the time New Year’s Eve rolled around people had enough of 2011.  They were tired of waiting for things to get better.  In 2012, they were going to make things better.  Opting for relocation, leaving family and friends in a show of no confidence in our public leaders.

Staying in Detroit is by no means a bad thing.  Opportunities may yet present themselves. GM, Ford, and Chrysler are all planning on hiring this year.  They are not paying what they use to but still stable jobs.  These newly employed workers will funnel money back into Detroit’s economy.  I am with those who are staying.  Artist like myself who have been honing their crafts while jobs were scarce will begin to put our talents on full display this year.  Trust me, we are ready!  So ready in fact that Detroit could see a huge demand for its writers and performers in 2012.  I will let you know who those rising stars are as they release new projects.  I am looking for success in 2012.  I want Hollaifyouhearme blog to be your source of information on everybody and everything Detroit.  I will introduce you to people committed to their own personal success as well as the City of Detroit’s success because that’s what I am all about!  Holla if you hear me!!!

-K. Greene

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Lights, Camera, Detroit

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder ended tax breaks to the movie industry this year and the fallout has been harsh.  Michigan lost a lot of Hollywood projects including Marvel’s upcoming “Avengers” movie.  In case you are wondering where it was shot instead of Michigan, I hate to tell you…Ohio.  I know, It’s like turning the proverbial knife.  While some argued that Hollywood productions leveraged too many of their own in-house staff instead of hiring Michiganders, others seized the opportunities of having Hollywood productions in the state.  Many landed walk on roles and got work as extras.  Shops and businesses near the sets saw increases in profits.  Rick Snyder however, didn’t see it that way.  Local independent filmmakers felt the worst of the cut.  They are already using their own money to produce a quality film.  Now, that same film just became more expensive to make.  A 42% tax break is huge when you are doing it yourself.  I thought about all of this as I headed to the second casting call for the movie “Sext Messaging”.  The first casting call was held in an elementary school classroom.  This one was held in a studio.  This would be the final casting call before making their final casting decisions.  Having the casting call at a studio definitely set the tone and those who auditioned did not disappoint!  Even the level of talent that came out was upgraded!
 
The waiting room was filled with familiar faces.  Many of them knew each other from the set of “Sparkle” which was recently filmed here.  Actress A. J. Williams was there looking to add “Sext Messaging” to an already impressive resume.  Lenderrick Bauss Jones was in the house to audition as well.  Lenderrick found himself a spot on “Sparkle” as well!  He also co-wrote and directed the indie movie “Chasing Smoke” also filmed in Detroit.  He admitted to me that it was humbling being on the other side of the table for a change.  In our conversation, he also pointed out the fact that this and other projects like this are really important for the city.  He said “We have good stuff here! We do not need Hollywood.”  I personally believe we can definitely benefit from Hollywood but I admired his faith in Detroit artists.  That type of faith is important to have around.
 
Judging by the auditions, He was right. We do have good stuff here! Each performer gave big time emotion as these were big time auditions.  Every word of dialogue was scrutinized to the fullest.  The Production team was not going to let sub par performances ruin a potentially engaging film.  There were a few times when I found myself so wrapped up in the performance, I almost forgot that it was an audition.  Before I left, I noticed a slight smile in Phette’ s poker face.  She could already see the characters in her book coming to life.  For an author, there isn’t a much more exciting time.  Her time is now and she isn’t the only one.  Rosemarie Wilson was seizing her’s as well and I found myself a willing participant.
 
Rosemarie Wilson is one of Detroit’s top poets.  Not only that, she is an excellent singer.  I have seen her perform a few times and each time was a treat!  She brought the house down at Echo Verse’s Passion Fruit Festival 7.0 with the poem “40 Niggas Deep” and she is currently working on a CD and DVD.  Recently, she asked me and several other metro Detroit artists to join her in filming a scene for her poem “Detroit aStigmatized”.  We braved the cold and supported our sister.  The poem “Detroit aStigmatized” is her way of showing her love for the city and putting Detroit pride on full display!  She will be touring with a theater group from Amsterdam called Wunderbaum next year with shows in Amsterdam, Belgium, and Pittsburgh.  Not bad for a young lady who only started performing in 2010.   The lights and cameras are truly on Detroit and I can’t wait to show the world what we got!  Holla if you hear me!
 
                                        -K. Greene