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Published: Thursday, 4/10/2008

Detroit mayor s economic plan may stumble before City Council

ASSOCIATED PRESS
In this image taken from video, a protester holds a sign before a rally against Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick at the Cathedral Conference Center in Detroit on Saturday. Crowds turned out for a "Heal the City Rally" rally in Detroit aimed at showing support for the Wayne County prosecutor and City Council amid a text-messaging sex scandal involving Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. In this image taken from video, a protester holds a sign before a rally against Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick at the Cathedral Conference Center in Detroit on Saturday. Crowds turned out for a "Heal the City Rally" rally in Detroit aimed at showing support for the Wayne County prosecutor and City Council amid a text-messaging sex scandal involving Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
ANKUR DHOLAKIA / AP Enlarge

DETROIT Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has tossed his economic stimulus plan onto the City Council s court, but it s unclear if Detroit s legislative arm is willing to play along.

The embattled mayor, despite facing felony perjury and other criminal charges, continues to promote the more than $300 million bond proposal to improve city infrastructure and services.

On Wednesday, he outlined how $15 million of that amount would provide loans for existing businesses in Detroit and venture capital for entrepreneurs.

We don t want businesses to grow up and leave. We want them to grow up and stay, Kilpatrick said.

He urged the Council to pass the plan and criticized hearings delving into the machinations behind an agreement to settle two whistle-blowers lawsuits for $8.4 million.

All of the other things we re dealing with won t help get anyone a job, he said of the hearings.

But Council has only received drafts of the proposal and is not scheduled to discuss the plan until April 25, Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel said.

This proposal is being, in a sense, driven by the mayor s campaign needs for a good story, she said. Every document I have is a draft. I need to see transaction documents. Give me the deal documents.

Council members have been critical of Kilpatrick and last month passed a resolution calling for him to resign during a current text-messaging sex scandal.

Kilpatrick and former Chief of Staff Christine Beatty face a June 9 preliminary examination on felony perjury, misconduct and other charges.

They are accused of lying under oath during a whistle-blowers lawsuit. Both denied having a romantic relationship in 2002 and 2003. Kilpatrick also is accused of lying under oath about his role in the firing of a top police official.

But sexually explicit text messages left on Beatty s city-issued pager and published in January by the Detroit Free Press contradict their testimony.

Those text messages were referenced in a confidential agreement related to the $8.4 million settlement.

The City Council will hold its second day of hearings Thursday to find out why it was not told of the confidential agreement or the text messages when they approved the settlement last fall.

Kilpatrick has blasted the hearings, saying no new information will come from them and calling them a waste of time.

Instead, the Council should focus on job creation, Detroit s slumped economy and other challenges facing the city, Kilpatrick said.

This is a call to go back to work, he said Wednesday while pushing the economic stimulus plan.

But how the scandal is impacting economic development in the city and Detroit s progress is a concern, said Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who added that a silver lining can t be found.

It s all not good, she said during a Lansing news conference on a jobs fund.

Teamsters Union President James P. Hoffa said Kilpatrick s scandal has driven some convention business out of town, which hurts Detroit because that would be a lot of revenue for Detroit.

I think he should resign, Hoffa told The Detroit News from Pennsylvania, where he was campaigning for Barack Obama. Kwame s in a tough situation.

Kilpatrick also responded Wednesday to reports of decreased revenue by two of the city s three casinos.

MGM Grand Detroit reports March revenue was up by nearly 6 percent over last year. But MotorCity Casino and Greektown Casino say their revenues dropped by more than 3.5 percent.

Kilpatrick s plan calls for a percentage of the city s casino taxes each year to pay back the bonds.

Trends in the gambling industry were expected when the plan was created, he said.



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