Since when does the side piece get the last word?

Rarely am I disappointed in an article in Essence Magazine. I’ve subscribed for years and look forward to reading the magazine each month. But Essence has me feeling some type of way about Christine Beatty’s glamour shot and essay in the November issue. Beatty talks about the lessons learned from her affair with former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. In fact, Beatty and Kilpatrick served time in jail for perjury after lying about their affair under oath during a whistle-blower lawsuit.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to believe Beatty regrets her actions and I pray she can forgive herself. Along with Kilpatrick, they let down their spouses, her daughters and his sons. The affair and coverup were exposed in a big way when hundreds  of text messages, some of them explicit, were revealed to the public during the lawsuit. The text messages were fair game because they were exchanged on city-issued cell phones.  Without question, taxpayers in Detroit paid for some elements of the affair since Beatty was Kilpatrick’s chief of staff and some of their fooling around happened on the city’s time.  

There may be some value in hearing from the other woman, though I’m struggling to see it. Since Essence gave Beatty three pages to tell her story, equal time should have been give to Carlita Kilpatrick to tell hers. After reading Beatty’s essay, I came away thinking she was in some way rationalizing the affair. She’d known and loved him since high school, her marriage was sinking and she and Kilpatrick worked so closely together that one thing led to another. But here’s the thing: Many people feel attraction to someone they work closely with or have had a crush on since high school. As adults, it’s our responsibility not only to honor our marriage vows but to think about the collateral damage caused by affairs. Marriage is a covenant between two people and God. Too often, people act first and think later. By then, the damage is done.

A few years ago I watched helplessly as someone I love was destroyed by a woman who inserted herself into her marriage, which was already struggling.  I listened to her as she describe this woman’s actions toward her and her husband, who vehemently denied his wife’s suspicions.  Trust and believe we women know when our husbands’ heads have been turned by another woman. There is always someone younger, prettier and more interesting, especially when you’ve been married for a time. And this goes both ways. Women aren’t exempt from cheating on their husbands. Perhaps the marriage I watched implode could have been saved with a lot of hard work. The couple shared similar values and had a lot of history together. Their children struggled mightily when their parents divorced. But when three and four people are involved in a marriage, there is no way it can survive.

Divorce is a serious step that should not be made lightly. Some couples decide that despite the infidelity they will stay together and try to rebuild the house that was once on solid ground. Christine Beatty says in her essay that she and her husband are now divorced but are successful co-parents. The Kilpatricks have endured the mayor’s multiple affairs and his conviction on corruption charges. He will be serving his 28-year prison sentence close to his family’s home in Texas.

Here’s hoping the next time Essence editors decide to run an article by the other woman, they let the wife give her perspective. She’s the one who held it down for their kids and stood by her man when he was carrying on with his mistress.

He lied, cheated and helped bankrupt a great city

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Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick — the self-proclaimed “hip-hop mayor” and the son of a former Congresswoman —  was sentenced today to 28 years in federal prison for running a criminal enterprise that cost taxpayers at least $20 million.

Kilpatrick, 43, was apologetic and remorseful in court today. He admitted to hurting his wife, three sons and the city of Detroit. The pleas of his attorney for a lighter sentence didn’t sway the judge. Kilpatrick was convicted earlier this year of steering city work to his friend, Detroit contractor Bobby Ferguson and dozens of others. In all, 34 public officials and private citizens were convicted in the corruption scandal. Kilpatrick’s father, Bernard Kilpatrick, was one of them.

Before his sentencing, Kilpatrick said he shouldn’t have “blurred the lines” with Ferguson but claimed he never knowingly hurt the city of Detroit. Blurred the lines? Really Kwame? Do you expect people to believe you didn’t know exactly what you were doing and who you were trying to help? Yes, politicians and businessmen have been scratching each others’ backs since the beginning of time, but that doesn’t make the practice right. And if anyone is going to get caught it will be a young, confident black man who lives lavishly, parties with prostitutes and pretty much dares anyone to challenge him.

Kilpatrick has already served time for perjury. He lied about an affair with his chief of staff and tried to pay off a police official who knew about it. That resulted in a whistle blower lawsuit that cost the city dearly. When their text messages, exchanged on city-issued cell phones, were revealed, the mayor was busted. He blamed the media and his enemies — everyone but the man in the mirror.

My time in Detroit was brief — I lived and worked there for a year. In that time, I met some of the strongest, friendliest people I’ve met anywhere. Many were southern transplants like myself who made the trek decades ago when automotive jobs were abundant. Several of my relatives were among them and still live in the city and its surrounding suburbs. Detroit is a proud city. It is also a crumbling one.

 The city is in bankruptcy court, the result of years of bad decisions by public officials and a declining tax base. Its school system is in shambles. If you’re curious to learn more about how the city got to this place, go to freep.com, the website of my former employer, The Detroit Free Press.

One of the newspaper’s most powerful pieces outlines the decisions made by Kilpatrick and other Detroit mayors which put the city in this spot. Even more harmful than Kilpatrick’s corrupt dealings, was his decision to borrow $1.4 billion to restructure the city’s pension debt, a move Wall Street investors hailed as a good one at the time.

The people hurt most by Kilpatrick and his cronies are the people of Detroit and the former mayor’s family. The judge was kind of enough to allow him to serve his time in a federal prison in Texas, so he can be near his wife and sons. Kilpatrick talked about his sons today when he spoke to the court about starting his career as a teacher so he could help young people. When he enters prison, his sons would join the number of young black boys growing up without their father, he said. Too bad he didn’t think about that before he was consumed by power and greed.

They say absolute power corrupts absolutely. And Kwame Kilpatrick is America’s latest poster child.