April 17, 2006


Dr. Detroit (Josh Hendrickson, 17 Apr 2006, Chicago Sun-Times)

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has never been known as a government reformer. In fact, he is probably best known for earning a distinction as one of the country's worst mayors by Time magazine. One reason for this dubious honor was his use of city funds to lease a Lincoln Navigator for his wife at the price of nearly $25,000. Rap mogul Russell Simmons even dubbed him the "hip-hop mayor," which sparked disapproval among Detroit's decidedly un-hip-hop suburbanites. Despite his faults, Kilpatrick won re-election in 2005.

Now he has become serious about balancing the city budget. The task has required him to rethink the role of government, and to decide which programs and services are worth the city's money. In timelessly non-bureaucratic fashion, he has worked fervently to reduce the size of city government and to open the door to privatization of city services.

Since taking office, Kilpatrick has eliminated 5,500 government jobs, which cut payroll by $272 million. To start with, benefits to city employees had simply become too much. According to the Detroit News, the city's liability for employee benefits is at "a rate three-times of the private-sector average".

On April 12, Mayor Kilpatrick announced plans to cut property taxes and charge a fee for garbage pick-up. Kilpatrick seeks to reduce what he calls a "$75 million subsidy" for trash pickup. Such language speaks volumes about Kilpatrick's newfound attitude towards government. Rather than referring to trash pick-up as a government service, he has instead viewed it as a subsidy. Many believe that this may be the first step towards privatization.

Privatization has thus become the talk of the local business community in Detroit. Mayor Kilpatrick is considering outsourcing management or even selling the Department of Public Lighting to a private company.

"We are not a power company," said Kilpatrick, quoted in the Detroit News. "If we are, we're a terrible one. We don't need to be in the power business." Such comments are seldom heard within the halls of any city hall, much less that of Motown.

Who does he think he is, Mayor Daley?

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 17, 2006 11:27 AM

Now now, don't scoff too loudly about the performanced of public electric utilities, Mr. Mayor. Just because yours doesn't run like LADWP or Colorado Springs Utilities, doesn't mean you'll get the chance to sell off the entity and be able to keep your job.

Posted by: Brad S at April 17, 2006 11:47 AM

dinkins II

Posted by: toe at April 17, 2006 12:32 PM

If Dinkins had governed Third Way there'd have been no Rudy.

Posted by: oj at April 17, 2006 12:40 PM

Unless the private companies he's thinking about outsourcing to are run by his cronies, then he's not Mayor Daley.

Posted by: Rick T. at April 17, 2006 12:45 PM

Coleman Young II

Kwame "the Trasher" Kilpatrick.

Posted by: Dave W at April 17, 2006 12:55 PM

He also wants to shut down the Detroit Zoo.

Posted by: Dave W at April 17, 2006 1:15 PM
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