Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kwame Kilpatrick's crisis is Jennifer Granholm's opportunity.
Obviously, the big news in Kilpatrick's legal saga is that the Detroit mayor has been sent to jail for violating the terms of his bond. It's not every day that the mayor of a city of more than 900,000 people is behind bars.
As a result, it would have been easy to miss another interesting bit of news. From the Detroit Free Press :
LANSING -- Gov. Jennifer Granholm said Wednesday she would personally preside over public hearings in Detroit to oust Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick beginning Sept. 3, if she determines the hearings are necessary.
If the hearings do take place (and it's hard to imagine they won't unless Kilpatrick resigns before then), that will make for quite a scene. Then, it's Granholm who has the power to remove Kilpatrick from office.
Kilpatrick is a convenient foil for the governor. While her problems are nothing compared to his, Granholm has seen her approval ratings plummet as a result of her inability to turn around the Michigan economy. She may be able to earn some much-needed goodwill by booting out Kilpatrick.
But, the situation is also a dangerous one for the governor. Elected officials don't usually remove other elected officials from office. If she moves too quickly or without a clear rationale for her actions, some Detroiters might (quite reasonably) rally around Kilpatrick and against Granholm.
The bigger risk, though, may be that she moves too slowly. Already, Granholm is hearing calls to remove the mayor immediately. The worst possible result for Granholm would be to come across as the last defender of Kwame Kilpatrick.
UPDATE: Granholm has announced that there will in fact be a hearing on September 3 to determine whether Kilpatrick will be removed form office.
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