But Who's Watching the Watchman?
Looks like Detroit is due to get a new federal monitor to watch over the police department. And by all appearances, Robert Warshaw seems to be a competent, decent and professional law-enforcement expert. A former police chief and U.S. deputy drug czar, he also has the experience of having overseen other law-enforcement departments being scrutinized by the feds.
And now here he comes to Detroit to replace Sheryl Robinson Wood, the first person appointed to the post. She's also the woman who was forced to resign the seat earlier this year after a federal judge found out that she and former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick had had "undisclosed communications" and "meetings of a personal nature."
Mind you, I never really cared much about whom the mayor or ex-mayor may or may not have been sleeping with, not even at the height of his text-sex-and-perjury scandal. Maybe I'm French that way, but I just think that what a public official does with his or her private parts is generally none of my business...
...unless it affects my money.
And just as, to me, the scandal that took Kilpatrick down wasn't about the sex but about him paying out public dollars to hush up his private b.s., so am I concerned about taxpayer money slated to flow to the new monitor and his staff. Reports say Wood and her crew got between $13 million and $14 million of Detroit taxpayers' hard-earned cash, more than even she had originally said she'd charge. And she did jack about cleaning up a police department that's been plagued by theft scandals, murder accusations against officers, the closing of its crime lab due to incompetence, brutality claims and residents' charges of slow — and even no — response to calls for assistance.
So where'd the money go? And how do we get it back? And just as importantly, how do we keep anyone else sent here by the federal government from screwing us over again? I don't know if you've heard, but Detroit can't really afford to watch $14 million walk out the back door.
I'm glad to hear that the Detroit City Council is asking for a federal investigation of Wood, but -- and this isn't meant as a slight to Warshaw -- what exactly is plan to ensure that the new monitor gets the job done right and cost efficiently? Reports say that city and federal officials failed to keep close track of how Wood spent tax dollars. Even the cops seemed uncertain about what she was doing to overhaul the department. So what changes are being put in place to keep Warshaw and company under closer scrutiny?
I have no reason to think he's not an honest man — but great things were also said about Wood, once a lawyer at a white-shoe firm in Maryland, upon her arrival. The larger point isn't whether these people coming in to watch over our cops are trustworthy, but what more our political and judicial operatives are doing to safeguard our money just in case they're not.