Less than a week after being ousted from her perch at the top of Detroit’s Law Department, former Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittendon has announced her intentions to explore a mayoral run.
Crittendon gained name recognition only this year after challenging the legality of the city’s consent agreement with the state this spring with a controversial lawsuit that pitted her against current Mayor Dave Bing as well as state officials.
At the time the Bing administration painted Crittendon as a rogue lawyer who acted out of line to dampen city progress. But Crittendon asserted that the lawsuit wasn’t about her, that it was about doing her job to make sure government was acting within the city charter.
Since then Bing has opted to hire his own lawyers from the private firm Miller Canfield a move that has cost the city more than $300,000, city bond ratings have slid further into the junk bin and Crittendon has been demoted.
But her hasty post-firing announcement of a possible run raises questions that one can’t help but ask: Was Crittendon planning a run all along? Did she make a big (and ultimately unsuccessful) show of an attempt to halt the consent agreement, (a controversial compromise tied directly to the unpopular emergency manager law) to gain name recognition and position herself for a plausible run?
It’s true, politicians have to stay continually ahead of the game, in months, sometimes years of strategically planning. A telltale sign is that Crtittendon says she already has eight people in place to run her exploratory committee with less than a week of job displacement behind her. She told The Detroit News she heard about her ouster over the news media “like everybody else”.
If that was the case, it seems like she had been planning a run for some time regardless of whether she would be fired.
In a radio interview with Mildred Gaddis on Inside Detroit WCHB-AM: News Talk 1200 Monday morning, Crittendon had all of her talking points ready, and still insisted that it wasn’t about her but about the law and the voice of the people.
It almost seems as if her rise to fame or in some cases infamy was a calculated power play. Which as far as poltics goes, would be brillaint. Or maybe the events of the past year steamed her up for a run.
“The papers have portrayed me as a polarizing figure,” she told Gaddis Monday morning. “This is not true. I can work with both branches of government, as well as residents and the business and corporate community. This is not about me.”
She said her legal actions to block the consent agreement gave people hope, that the legal fight got people “believing we can reclaim this city”.
Crittendon said she has seen an outpour of support, residents approaching her asking how they can help in her mayoral bid. She also struck on a cord that resonates with many Detroiters who are worried a state receivership would mean a loss of voice for residents by declaring that the city can manage its own financial crisis.
What would be Mayor Crittendon’s first action? A thorough audit, and a beefed up collections taskforce to get back money owed to the city, she said.
Although she obviously is against recievership, she said kowtowing to State pressure in order to stave off the dangling threat of an emergency manager is not her course of action. She said the state will likely appoint an EM anyway, so fear is not the answer.
“The City Council should not be afraid to take a bold stand and listen to the people, not be afraid,” she said adding that even if an EM is appointed prior to the election, “he will not be here forever”. It seems likely that after establishing herself as a fighter for the people, she has positioned herself in the spotlight as a sort of martyr, perhaps gaining a soft spot in voter’s hearts.
The second question is, will it work?
Pitted against the likes of former DMS frontman Mike Duggan and Wayne county sherrif Benny Napoleon, Crittendon has some big fundraising to do. And fast.
It remains to be seen: What side of history will the woman who tried to stop Detroit’s state-mandated restructuring process fall on?
Since he was elected mayor in 2009, Dave Bing has fired two police chiefs and suspended one. Bing removed former police chief James Barron and appointed then Wayne County Sherriff Warren Evans. He did so as a standard round of appointments for his administration.
But since then both of Bing’s picks for police chief have been involved romantically with subordinates. Bing suspended current Police Chief Ralph Godbee Tuesday evening after an affair that Godbee was having with a subordinate was exposed.
It seems as though Detroit Mayor Bing’s tolerance for internal romance between police chiefs and subordinates is very low. My question is this: Does this have to do with the shadow of the Kwame Kipatrick sex scandal that still looms over city leaders? Has the fear that the city can’t afford another ongoing sex scandal made the mayor hyper sensitive to relationships between leaders and subordinates?
Chief Godbee, who is separated from his wife and going through a divorce, was having a relationship with a married police officer. Not a huge scandal at face value, but maybe Bing knows something bigger is going on here. If not, the suspension seems a bit drastic, especially as the Detroit Police Department faces such trying times. With 10 percent wage cuts, 12-hour shifts, low police morale, and a homicide rate that grows daily makes an interoffice affair seem miniscule.
That’s not to say Godbee’s actions were right. Godbee should have learned a lesson from the events that surrounded his appointment to chief in the first place. And it’s never a good idea to sleep with an employee.
Godbee was appointed to be the city’s top law enforcer after Bing fired his predecessor, Warren Evans, in part for being romantically involved with a subordinate. At the time Bing said Evans’ romantic relationship with Lt. Monique Patterson would get in the way of Evans’ ability to conduct business.
Directly after Bing hired Godbee to replace Evans, Patterson released text messages showing she also had a romantic relationship with Godbee. Bing didn’t act on the texts Patterson released, and Godbee remained at his post.
Godbee's suspension sparked Evan's interest. Evans, who was fired in 2009, still seems bitter about the oust: He posted on Facebook:
Maybe someone can help me with the Mayor's mathematical equation and thought process:
Single man openly dates single woman = forced resignation
Married man has affair with single woman=promotion to Chief
Married man has another affair with married woman=30 day suspension.
Married man has no clue about fighting crime or fiscal management
The suspension of a police chief does not move the city any closer to curbing the rising homicide rate: The 287 murders committed through Sept. 23 in Detroit are 26 more than at the same point last year.
But the immediate and severe action does move the city closer to an image of no-nonsense leadership that snips interoffice sex scandals in the bud. And maybe that’s what Detroit needs most.
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