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Embezzlement in Detroit Government? Let's Hear Specifics

My post yesterday on JoAnn Watson's call for a federal bailout for Detroit sure got both supporters and opponents fired up. It also prompted some expressions of deep anger at Detroit city government, which was often derided as "corrupt." I'm not arguing that there aren't some crooks in city government -- same as there are at the county, state and federal levels -- but the reactions (and my responses to my commenters) started me to thinking about specific acts of corruption involving Detroit taxpayers' money. Maybe my memory's just shot, but I was having a tough time recalling many truly costly and egregious acts of theft among high-ranking city officials in recent years -- and couldn't think of any that would convince me that Detroit government couldn't handle bailout cash.

Here's part of a reply I posted:

I mean, I also get ticked off at crooks in government and incompetence. However, I honestly don't think most political figures in the city are just outright stealing tax money.

I mean, even arguably the worst of the lot, Monica Conyers, was really "only" guilty of improperly leveraging her position and influence to line her pockets with bribes. That's bad, yes, but not the same thing as stealing from the public till. Kilpatrick, meanwhile, pleaded guilty to felony obstruction of justice after also being charged with perjury and misconduct in office. And yes, he improperly disbursed funds to the officers he'd legitimately wronged -- but he didn't steal that money. (Plus, those officers should've been compensated long ago anyway.)

At the end, I ask for specific instances of theft of city tax dollars that people are pointing to when they complain about corruption in Detroit. I think the question is legitimate enough to make for a short post here.

So that's what I'd like to know from you guys, if you don't mind. Take a minute to talk about the specific examples of Detroit embezzlement that have got your blood boiling.

A few quick ground rules, though: Don't just go off on city officials because they're the ones occupying the hot seat. (For instance, someone complained about Watson's run-in with a movie crew. You don't like that she did that, that's fine, but that doesn't make anyone a criminal.) And let's not talk about bribes from potential vendors (wrong, yes, but not theft from taxpayers) or the steering of city contracts to political friends, as none of this is uncommon to politics at any level. The exception, of course, is if contracts/jobs were steered to friends and no real, quality work got done -- as was the case with Lonnie Bates. Certainly feel free to mention these examples.

Finally, let's not talk about sheer incompetence either -- because, frankly, I don't think we'd disagree on a lot there.

But I do want to know which instances of outright municipal theft you are referring to if you're contending that Detroit doesn't need a bailout because the politicians would just steal the money. And what do you think these specific instances really say about city government as a whole? What're the examples? What has been confirmed stolen? Has anyone been charged/convicted? Throw up links, comments, do anything short of just sputtering "Kwame..Kwame...Kwame."

The floor is all yours, my friends...

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