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I wonder if the extent, scope and breadth of the casual culture of corruption that existed among the black elite during the Kilpatrick years will ever be completely known to the public. Kwame Kilpatrick’s text messages appear to be offering another window on the kinds of shenanigans he was getting up to. The Detroit News is reporting today on the revelation of a relationship of a personal nature between Kwame Kilpatrick and Sheryl Robinson Wood, a partner in Venable LLP, a business law firm based in Baltimore and with offices in D.C. and elsewhere. Wood was the monitor of a consent decree entered into between the City of Detroit and the Justice Department regarding problems with the Detroit criminal justice system’s handling of prisoners. Reportedly paid $287.00/hr, Wood was paid $10 million dollars through 2006 for her work as monitor of the consent decree.

Kilpatrick lobbied hard for the appointment of Wood to the monitor position, according to City Council members. The text messages, which have not been released to the public, reportedly indicate an inappropriate personal relationship between Wood and Kilpatrick and some exchange of information regarding the litigation surrounding the consent decree. References to going to dinner are apparently included in the texts.

The text messages are in the possession of the U.S. Dept. of Justice and confirm that there is an ongoing federal investigation into Kilpatrick and corruption and I’m willing to bet right now that this is not going to be the only shady set of circumstances to emerge from that investigation. The texts and apparently statements and admissions from Wood herself appear to be pretty damning. According to the Maryland Monitor;

“In an order filed Friday, Judge Julian Abele Cook Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan wrote that he had learned through “certain documents” and a subsequent conversation with Robinson Wood that she “had engaged in conduct which was totally inconsistent with the terms and conditions of the two Consent Judgments in this litigation.”

“Specifically, it has now become readily apparent to the Court that the Monitor had engaged in undisclosed communications, as well as meetings of a personal nature, with the former City of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick during the term of the Consent Judgments, which included inappropriate discussions with him about this lawsuit,” Cook wrote. “Under these circumstances, the Court finds that it is absolutely necessary to suspend all monitoring of this case immediately.”

This looks as though it may be another scandal replete with the same sort of tawdry elements that were present in the relationship of Christine Beatty and Kilpatrick. If so, it will be another cautionary tale for professional black women about the decisions they make and could become a story every bit as tragic in terms of its impact on a family. Ms. Wood is married to Wesley Wood, a business owner and candidate for the State House in the 44th District of Maryland. They have two young children. Like Beatty, this may end up another case where we are left wondering, “what was she thinking” and “what the heck was Kilpatrick doing to make educated, intelligent, married, professional black women with young children behave so foolishly?”.

However, those questions are really only the titillating eye candy on the surface of this mess. The real question that should be raised is how black electorates in Detroit and elsewhere seem unable to muster the will to hold accountable in any way elected officials they know are dirty.


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