In Letter From Prison, Ex-Detroit Mayor Chimes in on Flint Water Crisis
By Tresa Baldas
A distant but loud and familiar voice is chiming in on the Flint water crisis: Ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who from his prison cell in Oklahoma is using social media to blast politicians about the ongoing water fiasco, claiming he knew about Flint's troubles when he was mayor, and that plenty others did, too.
Kilpatrick's venting appeared in the form of a letter republished on a supporter's Facebook page in which he knocks Gov. Rick Snyder.
"When the current Governor of Michigan says that he 'only recently was made aware of this issue', he is being misleading at best. But more than likely, he is being viciously, aggressively, and deliberately untruthful," the Kilpatrick letter states.
A friend with close ties to the Kilpatricks confirmed that the letter was written by the former ex-mayor, who also expresses dismay at his current situation in the posting, claiming neither he nor "99% of Detroiters" have any idea why he is in prison for 28 years.
The bulk of Kilpatrick's letter, however, focuses on Flint. It first appeared on Jan. 21 on the Facebook page of a supporter, then received 1,223 shares before winding up on a page titled Kwame Kilpatrick Supporters.
It begins with Kilpatrick offering a history lesson on the water woes of Flint.
Just so you all know. We (The Detroit Water and Sewage Department) were talking about the problems of the Flint Water Department (financial management, ability to perform, cleanliness of water, elimination of contaminants, mercury levels, lead levels) back in 2004. We knew (our folks in Detroit, SEMCOG, Genesee County Officials, some members of the State Legislature, and the Governor at that time) new that there were significant issues with all of those items.
In 2006 we attempted to craft a deal to put them on our water system. We were in negotiations, led by Victor Mercado, for months, and I wanted to make it work. I attended one meeting, and was on a conference call for another, expressing my willingness to make this work. SEMCOG and Judge Fiekens was also aware of this. SEMCOG was against the Agreement!"
BUT, the people in Genesee County, at the table during that time (the County Drain Commissioner & his staff, a State Senator, and a State House Member all from Genesee County) wanted to keep control of the system."
Kilpatrick then took a jab at a state leadership, writing:
"Also, former Michigan Governor, Jennifer Granholm, was well aware of the issues with the Flint Water Department, and their inability to produce contaminant free water moving forward, nor afford the equipment & technology to do so.
When the current Governor of Michigan says that he "only recently was made aware of this issue", he is being misleading at best. But more than likely, he is being viciously, aggressively, and deliberately untruthful. I pray that the truth comes out. That's what everyone in Michigan wants right? The Truth! Well, my prayer is that you all will have an opportunity to warm yourselves at the fire of Truth."
Kilpatrick then switched to writing about his own troubles.
"I am here in prison, with a 28-year sentence, for a case where there is NO EMBEZZLEMENT, NO MISUSE OF PUBLIC FUNDS, NO BRIBERY, NO STEALING OF ANY MONEY, as a matter of fact, NO PUBLIC MONEY AT ALL. And NO CHARGES THEREOF! 99% of Detroiters have NO idea why I'm here. They don't know the charges, nor what I'm sentenced for. They sure do know the rumors."
Then he made some comparisons between himself, and the leaders overseeing the water crisis.
"I wonder how much time you get for knowingly & actually delivering unsafe, dangerous, and poisonous drinking water to the people you represent? Which in-turn causes deaths, permanent illnesses, and disabilities. Can you actually be hated, hurt, and imprisoned for ridiculous rumors about murder...and not be for actually killing people?"
The letter continues ...
"I pray for justice for the people of Flint! And I also pray that God will give to all of you in Michigan the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. That you all may have your eyes opened with understanding.
The blindness is hurting lots of people. Its even killing some. OPEN YOUR EYES! KMK"
The Facebook post has made its rounds on the Internet, with Kilpatrick supporters and critics both chiming in.
Kilpatrick is currently appealing his 2013 public corruption conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court. He is serving 28 years for crimes including extortion, bribery and fraud. During trial, prosecutors argued that Kilpatrick was part of a pay-to-play scheme in which he fostered a climate of fear in the contracting community by making sure his longtime contractor friend, Bobby Ferguson, got cut in on deals. Ferguson, who was accused of sharing his ill-gotten gains with Kilpatrick, also was convicted and received a 21-year prison sentence.
Ferguson also appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the high court refused to hear his case, thus upholding the conviction.
Kilpatrick is still waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether it will hear his case.
Kilpatrick's attorney Harold Gurewitz said he was aware of the Facebook post, but that he couldn't authenticate it. He did note, however, that even though Kilpatrick is in prison and has no access to social media perks like Facebook, he can still communicate with friends and family through an e-mail system for inmates that's overseen by the federal prison system.
So that means Kilpatrick can e-mail friends and family members his thoughts or views, and then they can post it on their Facebook page.
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