Digital lipstick on his collar.

Sing along with me now: When will they ever learn? Oh when will theyyyyy ever learnnnn? Detroit’s mayor becomes approximately the millionth public official to learn that it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up. The Free Press FOIAs his text-message records and discovers a rather mundane game of hide the salami going on between the country’s first hip-hop mayor and his chief of staff. Which is tawdry, but only tawdry, until you consider that the denial of said affair under oath was the centerpiece of a lawsuit brought last summer against the city, one that led to a number of whistle-blowing cops swallowing a $9 million canary. I won’t bog you down with details, which you fans of public-official ugly-bumping can look up yourselves; it’s a complicated story and the Freep provides a million links. Just absorb the takeaway lesson: Sometimes you have to stop lying, even if it’s really, really embarrassing.

Also, this: If you really have the rank to pull, you shouldn’t have to pull it. The chief of staff, pulled over for speeding in 2004:

The cops say she pointedly asked them: “Do you know who the (expletive) I am?” before calling Detroit Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings. Beatty later acknowledged calling the chief from her cell phone, but denied pulling rank on the officers. She was never ticketed.

Someone needs to teach these folks: You sit silent and take the ticket. Then you hand it to your close personal friend, the chief of police, who makes it disappear. Is there any sentence that looks worse in the cold light of morning than “Do you know who the (expletive) I am?” Don’t think so.

Reading this story reminds me of the olden days, when reporters staked out love nests with long lenses. I guess another takeaway lesson is: Everybody leaves tracks. It’s just a question of what form they take.

Speaking of the cold light of morning, the sun is blazing on new snow outside, which fills the house with light and casts every dog hair into sharp relief. I should be cleaning, but I’m not. (Obviously.) Instead, I’m making preparations for the next emergency I might face, by adding Mary-Kate Olsen’s number to my speed-dial:

The masseuse who discovered the body of Heath Ledger in a Manhattan apartment on Tuesday twice called a friend of his, the actress Mary-Kate Olsen, before calling 911, New York City police officials said on Wednesday.

I suppose it’s a side effect of the preposterous spotlight even D-list celebrities find themselves in that when an ancillary member of the support staff finds another human being unconscious, unresponsive and not breathing, her first impulse is to call an actress rather than 911 — when in doubt, think: Damage control! Or maybe not. Maybe what we have here is a young woman of rather spectacular dimness. Or just confused. It doesn’t sound like it would have made much of a difference, but still.

A final note: I’m sucking Brian Stouder’s tailpipe on this, but so be it: prokopowiczOf all American presidents, probably none is more-studied than Abraham Lincoln, and yet there’s always something new to learn about him. “Did Lincoln Own Slaves? And Other Frequently Asked Questions About Abraham Lincoln” is the new book by Lincoln scholar Gerald J. Prokopowicz (pictured), and he’ll be reading and signing January 28 at Border’s in Grosse Pointe.

Gerry teaches at East Carolina University, but spent many years in the private sector, as resident scholar at the Lincoln Museum in Fort Wayne, which is where I came to know him. But he has a local connection, too — he moved to the Shores in ninth grade and his mother still lives here. So if you’re one of my few local readers, stop by Monday night at 7, and I’ll see you there.

Posted at 9:44 am in Current events, Friends and family |

42 responses to “Digital lipstick on his collar.”

  1. Adrianne said on January 24, 2008 at 10:24 am

    Sung to the tune of “Ghostbusters”

    There’s something strange…
    In Heath Ledger’s bed…
    Who you gonna call?
    Mary-Kate Olsen!

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  2. Kirk said on January 24, 2008 at 10:25 am

    The eye-rolling, arrogant testimony by the mayor’s squeeze (video on the Detroit News site) is worth a look, knowing that she’s lying through her teeth.

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  3. Danny said on January 24, 2008 at 11:02 am

    Hilarious, Adrianne.

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  4. beb said on January 24, 2008 at 11:25 am

    Now is Mary-Kate the really thin twin or the twin with clinical anoxeia?

    Now if I found a dead body my first thought would to call my wife and ask “what do I do?” so I gotta wonder what’s the deal between Mary-Kate and the masseuse.

    But mostly I’ve got to boggle at the idea that the Mayor thougth he could somehow bluff his way through a lawsuit that was all about his attempts to cover up pther stuff. So how’s the City Council going to react to this? Are they still going to pay the Mayor $9 million judgement in the lawsuit? (I never understood why the city was going to pay when the harassment done to the two officers did not constitute official mayoral business.)

    And of course this brings us back to the matter of the dead hooker that Mrs. Mayor once slapped when she caught the dog having a wild sexy party. Elmre Leonard would thinkk twice before writing a story based on this mayor, the plot would seem too implausible.

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  5. Sue said on January 24, 2008 at 11:32 am

    “and yet there’s always something new to learn about him”: When I accidentally typed in “Did Lincoln Own Salves” in my library’s system database, I was surprised to see that no one has written about this important topic yet. This is a major hole in Lincoln research. Doris Kearns Goodwin, get on it.

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  6. Danny said on January 24, 2008 at 11:52 am

    Hey, to all you midewesterners who complain about blizzards and sub-freezing temps and yadda-yadda-yadda. You should really put a lid on all that whining. I mean, you have NO idea what Mary and I have to deal with living here in So Cal. I drove to work this morning it it was raining. That’s right. Raining. And so torrential was the downpour, that I had to put my windshield wipers up to the top speed setting.

    So get some perspective, you weather wimps. Me and Mary are the ones who really have it tough.

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  7. Sue said on January 24, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    Now, now, my fellow midwesterners, try not to be too angry with Danny for his snarkyness. We can stand along the rim and watch when the big one hits and California falls into the ocean. I’ll bring the wine – who’s got the beer and snacks?

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  8. Sue said on January 24, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Except, someone get LA Mary out beforehand, ok?

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  9. john c said on January 24, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Most residents of major cities would be appalled at the amount paid out in settlements of lawsuits – everything from slip-and-falls on public transit to physical abuse by cops. Kwame is particularly loathesome because he feels so entitled to be allowed to do whatever he wants. I guarantee you he will, if he hasn’t already, play the race card here.

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  10. nancy said on January 24, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    Kirk, good catch.

    It’s breathtaking, really — I mean, haven’t we learned by now that EVERYTHING sent over a digital device can be tracked, even years after the fact? And to deny, flatly, that you ever sent messages of a personal nature? That’s like claiming you never looked at an eBay auction on a work computer; everybody who gets a gadget paid for by their employer is going to do at least a little personal bidness on it, and no one expects you to do otherwise.

    Only, when it’s company-paid, the transcripts of the shenanigans are going to say stuff like:

    THE MAYOR: Let’s make love!

    I thought “The Wire” was popular with black urban professionals. This woman needs to learn the first rule of cell phones: Always use a burner!

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  11. Julie Robinson said on January 24, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    And did anyone catch that even though Mary Kate was in California, she offered to send a couple of her security people from NYC over?

    Danny, you have it SO rough. My sis in Florida was complaining about the cold weather there, too. It was all of 60.

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  12. Danny said on January 24, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    60? {shivering}

    Wow. We can relate to your sis. Having to turn off the ceiling fan is a hardship.

    Hey, wasn’t one of those Olsen twins dating Lance Armstrong a few months back?

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  13. nancy said on January 24, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Current temp here in Michigan’s banana belt: 18 degrees. Chuck you, Farley.

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  14. Sue said on January 24, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    current temp on the other side of Lake Michigan: -2. What Nancy said.

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  15. Joe K said on January 24, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    You want cold??
    How about last night at 8,000ft en route from Travers city to Cleavland, and the heater quit working in my cessna 310. I found a blanket in the back and covered up. Out side air temp was around -20 f.
    Luck had it I was carrying freight and not people. Freight Dog’s have a saying ” Boxes don’t bitch”

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  16. LAMary said on January 24, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    It was 39 when I left for work this morning at 6, and there were little piles of hail here and there, which I formed into lethal iceballs. This was to teach my sons not only what can be done with ice, but to throw at them before jumping into my car.

    No question the weather was really wild last night. Hard hard rain, sounding like a firehose aimed at the roof. And lots of wind. I’m not a true California weather wuss, though, so I’m not bitching. I went to the winter concert at younger son Pete’s school last night, and it was really great. Such talented kids and apparently very talented teachers. A Bach string concerto performed beautifully accompanied by wind and rain outside…it was just so dramatic and lovely.

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  17. Danny said on January 24, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    I’m not a true California weather wuss, though, so I’m not bitching.

    And for those of you who do not “know” me, neither am I. I’m just having fun with it.

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  18. Sue said on January 24, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    We know you’re just having fun with it, silly. That doesn’t mean that in our current cabin-fever-brain-frozen-monochromatic-landscape-induced state of mind, we wouldn’t cheerfully kill you just to take our attention away from the weather. Nothing personal, of course; it’s something to do that doesn’t involve shivering or paying heating bills.

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  19. john c said on January 24, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    Kirk et al … did you catch Kwame’s testimony, namely the fact that his gal pal’s husband is or was the coach of his son’s football team!
    “I just spent all day Saturday with him,” the Mayor said with an aw shucks smile.
    If Barry Bonds is going on trial, and perhaps to prison, for lying about taking steroids, then these two have to face the music for costing the city $9 million.

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  20. Julie Robinson said on January 24, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    What I really wonder about is this: all you who live in the sunshine states, what do you “small talk” about? My desk is in the reception area, so when visitors come to the building I have to call and wait for the visitee to come out front. I can always get a couple of minutes out of the weather to cover those awkward moments. But when it’s always 70 and sunny? “Beautiful out there, isn’t it?” What comes next?

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  21. MichaelG said on January 24, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Cessna 310? Named “Songbird”? Where was Penny? What an antique.

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  22. Dorothy said on January 24, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Julie when I lived in South Carolina I frequently had to go to the front desk of the building to bring up visitors to the Executive Suite. Sometimes I would talk about weather in OTHER parts of the country. Sports is always another thing to keep current about because usually it was men coming to visit. But once I escorted a woman up who had just attended the Kentucky Derby last year, and she had sat right near the Queen. That was a cool “small talk” conversation.

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  23. Danny said on January 24, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    What comes next?

    Mostly grinning and snickering. 🙂

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  24. Jolene said on January 24, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    I taught at the University of Arizona in Tucson for several years, and winter weather in other parts of the country was definitely a subject for small talk there. One of my former colleagues referred to winter as “the gloating season”. It was ideal for faculty recruiting, which mostly takes place between January and the end of March.

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  25. LAMary said on January 24, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Earthquakes, landslides, fires, Britney Spears sightings.

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  26. Danny said on January 24, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    Someone just sent me this. I think Nancy will love this one.

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  27. del said on January 24, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Don’t really understand what all the fuss is about concerning Detroit’s Mayor. The jury got it right at trial. He fired a cop for being a whistleblower and they didn’t need his text messages admitting same to get it right. And what of his text messages admitting of an affair that he denied under oath? Doesn’t change a thing. Oh it’s perjury, but as Bill Maher once remarked (concerning Bill Clinton) if any lie is sacred to a man, it’s a lie about sex. My guess is that suburban Detroit will be enraged (think about the message he’s sending the kids) and will go overboard, thereby unintentionally solidifying his political base in the city.
    Don’t mean to excuse bad conduct, but punish it appropriately and don’t partake in a Britney-style media frenzy.

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  28. john c said on January 24, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    With all due respect, del, this is not just a situation where someone asked him about sex and he lied about it. He fired a man because of his sexual dalliances. Then he stood up in a courtroom and lied about it. And pardon me for sounding overly dramatic, but lying in a courtroom is a serious matter. Yes, the city lost the suit without knowledge of the mayor and his chief of staff’s perjury. But the point is, the mayor of the city perjured himself.
    I am a democrat who voted for Bill Clinton. I thought the impeachment fiasco was just that. But I will never forgive him for lying the way he did, no matter what it was about. And to all those who toss out the “he just lied about sex” line, let me ask you this: If the chairman of, say, General Motors, had lied to thwart a young woman whom he had sexually harrassed, would you say the same thing? Bill Clinton certainly wouldn’t.
    And please don’t tell me about our current President and his lies. He is ten times worse than Clinton. Twenty.
    One thing you are right about is how it will play out. The suburbs are enraged. And his political base will be solidified.
    But he is beneath contempt. Detroit is a once-great city that is dying before our eyes. And Kwame is spending money it does not have trying to save his job and get himself laid.
    If you can watch the video of him testifying under oath and lying through his teeth and not be enraged, then I pity you. You are, with all due respect, living in a world with very low standards.

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  29. Dorothy said on January 24, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    Just in case anyone’s wonderin’, it’s 12 degrees here. Going down to 4 tonight…

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  30. Jeff said on January 24, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    What a great blog for comments; i can try to zip thru 354 comments at a HuffPo which are 22 agreements and 1 nasty troll over and over, or the NYTimes “blog” comments, 659 comments with 47 heartfelt agreefull statements and a troll divider, all of which feel like a total of three commenters for all 1013 posted comments.

    Here, i get a glimpse of sunny Califor-nigh-ayyyyy, a pilot in the dark high over Lake Erie reaching back for a blanket, lawyers, practicing analyists analyzing, working journalists journaling, and michaelj hasn’t even posted up into the paint yet.

    I have nothing to add other than the fireworks’ watcher’s “Ahhhhhhhhhhhh……Oooooooooooo.”

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  31. Danny said on January 24, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    ..and michaelj hasn’t even posted up into the paint yet.

    Funny, Jeff. I think michaelj will appreciate that basketball reference.

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  32. Joe K said on January 24, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    Mike G,
    Song bird was a antique, but the one I had last night was a 1979 R model with the long nose. Good bird, My call sign last night was pop cycle one. The 310 will carry a good size load on 25 gal a hour and around 185knt. Plus she will carry a lot of ice, which is a good Thing around the great lakes.
    Blue Skys

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  33. basset said on January 25, 2008 at 7:53 am

    hmmmm, if I figure that right it’s about 8 and a half miles per gallon at cruising speed. what’s a gallon of aviation gasoline cost these days?

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  34. john c said on January 25, 2008 at 9:06 am

    Love the michaelj posting up in the paint image … I’m picturing that guy in the rec league game in the shorty-shorts, too-tight tank and headband, with the high socks and the Chuck Taylors. I look at him with amusement until he throws an elbow into my gut and sends my lay-up attempt through the doors and into the lobby. Loping down to the other end he stares me down, flares his nostrils and says: Keep that weak-ass shit outta my house!

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  35. Marylou Guihan said on January 25, 2008 at 9:42 am

    There was an interesting article that Washington Post did on the “Britney Empire” (
    but the story about having Mary Kate on Heath Ledger’s speed-dial just made me think: well, at least she has people – for all the money that Britney has, she doesn’t seem to have the kind of insulation that could actually help her with all the mess she’s made of her life lately.

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  36. del said on January 25, 2008 at 10:47 am

    John c, I didn’t see the video of Kilpatrick lying but I’m sure it would disgust me. As for the GM chairman harassing a female employee that would surely be wrong but the most important thing to me is that he and GM be justly punished. Your most provocative comment is that my standards may be too low. I wrestle with that. Am I too cynical? Or just informed? Having practiced law for 16 years I have a different take on things — kind of like cops have a different view on apprehending criminals than attorneys and judges. Cops, for example, are supposed to obey constitutional case law by which they must “knock and announce” before busting in on drug dens full of drugged up young men with guns. I think they routinely ignore this law. And I believe I’ve witnessed them lying about this in a federal prosecution of a murderous drug lord (13 U.S. marshals present for the reading of the verdict). The cops may have perjured themselves but should they be prosecuted? Would it matter that the defendant had been acquitted of attempted murder in state court after his gang had reached the witnesses who then swore that they saw nothing? Perjury again. Alberto Gonzalez intimated that the Constitution does not allow for habeas corpus to the Senate. Damn. But you warned me not to digress.
    In civil employment litigation employers routinely lie. Rarely, however, are hundreds of thousands of dollars spent to uncover old text messages confirming the lies. Yeah, he lied and it’s perjury but the ugly truth is that in about 80% of these types of cases someone’s lying. Just a guess. The greater problem is that in Michigan the conservative supreme court has ruled that an employee may prove that the employer gave a “false” reason for firing him and the judge can still rule for the employer — case doesn’t even get to a jury (forget the state constitution’s provision of a jury trial for civil matters). By that the judge is saying that “reasonable minds cannot differ” with his ruling.
    Why did Kilpatrick’s case reach a jury? Too many people watching.

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  37. Joe K said on January 25, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    av gas is around 4.50 a gal

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  38. MichaelG said on January 25, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    The 310 always was one of the prettiest aircraft ever.

    Del, I feel a lot of wind but hear a guy basically telling me that it’s OK that Kilpatrick is a lying sack of shit.

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  39. del said on January 25, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    Not sayin’ it’s okay. He lied and he should be punished. The question is just to what degree and does it merit the 24/7 Detroit media coverage it’s getting? Hell no. George Bush lied and 150,000 people died. No media frenzy over that. Nothing like Monica Lewinsky coverage. I think it was your recent post that showed a bumper sticker linking Hillary to it. That’s harsh. Methinks that folks shouldn’t be, as Kramer’s lawyer in Seinfeld might say, so “shocked and chagrined” by hizzoner’s lying.

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  40. brian stouder said on January 25, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    From this distance, the Detroit scandal looks bizarre. The Seinfeld take would be – the guy lied and he should face consequences, yadda yadda yadda.

    But how does $9,000,000 of public money come into play? When WJC lied and then lost the civil suit against him, I thought it was his own umbrella liability coverage that had to foot the bill.

    Why is the city of Detroit on the hook, here?

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  41. del said on January 25, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    It isn’t. It’s got insurance too. But that gets lost in the media frenzy.

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  42. nancy said on January 25, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    This isn’t the Clinton case, however. Not only did the city lose $9 mil (they were settlements on wrongful-termination cases from police who were whistle-blowers, Brian), but this is perjury, big-time. Even if people say it’s understandable to lie about sex, etc., it doesn’t change the fact that both the mayor and his aide were asked about the affair in a court of law, and denied it flatly under oath.

    Just had lunch with JohnC, and he points out that the mayor is a lawyer himself (which I didn’t know), which makes it even worse. There’s a reason the legal community has zero tolerance for perjurers, and the mayor should expect to face some big-time sanctions.

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