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No end to corruption

Kevyn Orr

Kevyn Orr

This week, Kwame Kilpatrick was sentenced to 28 years in prison. When Judge Nancy Edmunds issued her order she said: “We’re demanding transparency and accountability in our government … If there has been corruption in the past, there will be corruption no more.”

Kwame Kilpatrick

Kwame Kilpatrick

On the steps of the courthouse, U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said the Kilpatrick sentencing sent a “powerful” message to Detroit and those who want to serve in public office. McQuade said Kilpatrick received the highest sentence ever handed down in a public corruption case.

Unfortunately, we don’t believe this means the end of public corruption, it just means Kilpatrick got the longest sentence ever.

We should all get the message. Transparency and accountability are the cornerstones to good government.

Today as Detroiters live under emergency management, we know we are even further from transparency and accountability than ever before.

Today, we have welcomed a slicker, more polished version of corruption.

When millions of public dollars are being spent without transparency and the future of billions of dollars in assets are being decided without public input — corruption is not dead in Detroit.

The Emergency Management policy is — as Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson described it — a right-wing gangster move.  Economist Dr. Julianne Malveaux correctly named it nothing but a “wealth transfer.”

There is the moral corruption — and plain wrongness — when the powerful use laws to benefit a few, but also there are some practical and legal implications in this emergency management morass.

In a deposition, Gov. Rick Snyder said he did not know who had donated to his NERD (New Energy to Reinvest and Diversify) fund. Not knowing who donates may give him the benefit of plausible deniability. Plausible deniability is when an executive or senior official deliberately remains uninformed so — if necessary — they can plausibly claim they had no knowledge of a damning fact.

Corruption is not dead when the governor — an elected official — is allowed to maintain a secret fund that pays or augments the pay of several key appointees. Appointees who have the power to oversee contracts, direct resources and enrich others.

What happens if it is discovered donors to the NERD fund financially benefited from city contracts? These city contracts can now be unilaterally approved by Gov. Snyder’s appointees.  Did Jones Day, Kevyn Orr’s old law firm, contribute to the NERD fund?

Detroit taxpayers are currently paying millions of dollars to consultants — who aren’t accountable to the same standards as public officials. We have created an opportunity for corruption to fester and spread.

Billions of dollars are managed by the Snyder administration.  Let’s make sure this administration is accountable. Gov. Snyder must shut down the NERD fund.

There is no end to public corruption in Detroit.

 

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