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Published: Monday, 5/12/2008

Lawyer to draft forfeiture language against Detroit mayor


DETROIT The Detroit City Council voted 5-4 Monday to ask its attorney to draft resolution language on forfeiture of office proceedings against Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Council members debated whether to ask Gov. Jennifer Granholm to remove Kilpatrick for misconduct in office, censuring the mayor or forfeiture.

Lawyer William Goodman was expected to return Monday afternoon with the draft, and the Council could vote on it as early as Tuesday.

The nine-member group agrees that Kilpatrick violated the City Charter by not divulging a confidentiality agreement keeping secret references to embarrassing and sexually explicit text messages between the mayor and his ex-top aide, but otherwise the group is split on what actions to take.

Council members say they were not aware of that agreement when they approved an $8.4 million settlement of a whistle-blowers' lawsuit last October.

Councilwoman JoAnn Watson favors forfeiture of office, while Council President Pro Tem Monica Conyers believes a court should decide his political fate. Barbara-Rose Collins said she will not support asking Granholm to get involved.

"I think it's the wrong thing to do," Collins said. "I don't need a governor coming to Detroit, telling the people who elected somebody that he is not worthy of the office."

Granholm has said she wants to allow legal action which includes felony charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and misconduct in office to proceed against Kilpatrick.

"If we're going to do something, we need to do it and not throw it on someone else," Conyers said.

Forfeiture of office proceedings could take years, end up in Wayne County Circuit Court and cost upward of $250,000, Goodman warned.

The Council's research and analysis director put the amount at closer to $500,000.

"The options this body has are not easy," Goodman told the Council. "None of these are perfect solutions. They all have serious drawbacks."

Goodman offered each of the three recommendations last week in a 35-page special report accusing Kilpatrick of using public office for private gain and settling city civil litigation without Council's consent.

The Council passed a nonbinding resolution in March asking Kilpatrick to resign, but he has refused. Censuring the mayor would amount to another slap on the wrist.

Kilpatrick's office has said the Council's actions are politically motivated.

Kilpatrick and former Chief of Staff Christine Beatty face a June 9 preliminary examination. The Wayne County prosecutor has accused them of lying under oath during last summer's whistle-blowers' trial when they denied having a romantic relationship in 2002 and 2003.

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