Here’s something I can’t figure out. Is Ken Cockrel Jr. the luckiest -- or the most unfortunate -- politician in the entire state?
I suspect that’s something that none of us, including acting Mayor Cockrel himself, will know for awhile. First of all - the good news is that it will be really hard for him not to look good, coming in following the criminal nightmare of the Kilpatrick administration.
All Mayor Cockrel will have to do to be an improvement is to remember to avoid strippers and outrageous parties that involve limousines idling in the street for hours. Avoid committing felonies, stealing the people’s money and lying under oath.
Then, tap into the huge reservoir of good will that’s there statewide for someone who wants to make Detroit respected again.
On the other hand, Cockrel is taking the helm of a desperately poor city that has been in a state of economic and political paralysis since the text message scandal broke in January.
He has to try to jump-start Detroit, even as the nation teeters on the edge of what could be the most terrifying financial crisis since the 1930s. However, that may not be the hardest thing the new mayor has to face. Detroit City Council decided to spend $3 million to hold special primary and general elections to fill Mayor Kilpatrick’s unexpired term. Yes, the deeply flawed city charter says they are supposed to do that. But this makes no sense.
What it means is that Detroit will have city-wide, mayoral elections in February, May, September and November. Oh yes - and before that, we have the national presidential election in November.
That means that pretty much nothing will happen in Detroit all year long except non-stop campaigning.
Since nobody in the business community, or the wider political community, can be sure who the next mayor will be, nobody is going to be in the mood to make any major commitments.
That is, even if this week’s Wall Street follies leaves any money for anyone to invest anywhere. As for Ken Cockrel. He is now City Council president, the highest vote-getter in Detroit in 2005,
It is entirely possible, if he loses the primary, that he will be a lame duck five months from now, and without any job at all in May.
Those who are betting on who the eventual next mayor of Detroit will be are leaning to former basketball star and businessman Dave Bing. You can be assured that there will lots of candidates, one of whom is likely to be former deputy mayor Freman Hendrix.
Actually, I would like to see a race next fall between Cockrel and Hendrix. Neither is flashy, flamboyant or a spellbinding speaker. But they are both decent, intelligent, middle-class family men.
Hendrix, for example, was the main force in reviving Little League baseball in Detroit. Both men put themselves through school and had other careers before turning to politics. They are low-key guys who want the best for their community and their city.
Wouldn’t that be a pleasant change?