Detroit will eventually heal — with great difficulty — from the damage inflicted by Kwame Kilpatrick. Far less certain is whether the Kilpatrick clan will ever be made whole. Consider:
- Once Bernard Kilpatrick serves his 15-month sentence for a single tax evasion charge, he will spend the rest of his days visiting his son in a federal prison. Because Kwame got 28 years for his part in the Detroit public corruption scandal, his 72-year-old father will probably die before Kwame is set free.
- Ditto Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick. In addition, the former six-term Detroit Congresswoman lost her seat in the 2010 primary in large part because of the highly publicized federal investigation of her son. Her political career is over.
- Kwame’s wife, Carlita, is apparently adrift, with no discernible job skills that could be put to use in raising their three sons. She was recently fired from her job in Texas for allegedly withholding department funds. It seems that wherever Carlita Kilpatrick goes, all of her missteps are made public.
- And what of the sons? Will they have to bear the sins of their father?
- Still unaccounted for are the legions of Cheeks and Kilpatricks who were thrown out of their city jobs once Kwame resigned from office.
This last group deserves no pity. They were well-paid, did not work hard and probably enjoyed some of the same ill-gotten gains that sent Kwame to prison.
Bernard Kilpatrick got what he deserved. With good behavior, he will do less than 15 months behind bars.
At first glance, Carlita Kilpatrick appears to be another victim of her husband’s downfall. The fact he was sleeping with Christine Beatty (among others) draws additional sympathy. And Carlita was never charged with a crime.
Giving Carlita “The Good Wife” award is problematic, however, if one is to believe the following, from Detroit Free Press columnist Brian Dickerson on October 10.
“There was the restaurateur who bristled every time Kilpatrick’s wife led her entourage into his establishment, partook regally of his hospitality, and left with no thought of paying the check, much less tipping the staff.”
Her Texas shenanigans indicate that the former first lady of Detroit still has trouble deciphering right from wrong.
Yet, Carlita is due a slither of sympathy. Being a single mother is hard. Her apparent lack of job skills further clouds her future.
The clear innocents in this tragedy are the former mayor’s three sons, and their grandmother. The boys have lost the day-to-day presence of their father for the next two decades and more. They will be grown men by the time he is released. Their grandfather is headed to jail in a few months. Holding the family together is now the job of 68-year-old Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick.
According to an analysis by the Detroit Free Press, Kwame Kilpatrick cost the taxpayers in Detroit at least $20 million.
There is no way to put a number on the emotional costs to the Cheeks-Kilpatrick clan during most of this decade and going forward, but the final tally will be large. On could argue that Kwame Kilpatrick’s destruction of his family was a crime worst than all the others he committed as mayor.