Dubious achievement awards 2004 - October

Gridiron Edsels: The Detroit Lions begin their season going 3-1. Some of the kids start to get excited, but veteran fans caution that this is a team that’s destined to dash hopes. Sure enough, the wheels start coming off this sporty incarnation of Mr. Ford’s Edsel by mid-month when the Green Bay Packers get back on the winning track by shellacking our pussycats. By the time January rolls around, the Honolulu blue boys are out of the playoff running, having delivered another season of sucko ball, and teaching all the kids out there that, when it comes to the Lions, there’s absolutely no reason to believe.

Ethics? We don’t need no stinkin’ ethics!: A lawyer representing two Detroit cops suing Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and the city for alleged violations of the Whistle Blowers’ Protection Act releases documents that indicate mayoral chief of staff (and alleged paramour) Christine Beatty used her ties to KK — and his office stationery — to obtain a home loan despite a history of credit problems. It’s also reported that the bank gave Beatty a $12,000 grant as part of a program intended to help low- and middle-income people buy homes and businesses in Detroit. Beatty earns more than $140,000 a year as Kilpatrick’s right-hand gal. In typical fashion, the mayor publicly dismisses questions about unethical behavior on the part of his chief of staff, and instead lambastes the lawyer, Michael Stefani, for continuing to splatter his administration with mud. Note to Kwame: Mud flinging wouldn’t be such a problem if you and your administration would quit providing the dirt.

Kwame’s best pal Kwame: In a deposition taken as part of the Whistle Blowers’ Protection Act filed against him by two police officers, the Kwamster explains his late-night meanderings this way: “I roll down the windows and have time with Kwame in Detroit.” Linguists note that the mayor has achieved the rarefied status of those few who refer to themselves in the third person, and the attendant ballooning of ego that inspires said references. Everyone else just laughs at how damn silly Kwame sounds when he talks about spending quality time with Kwame.

Failure to initiate: Those scofflaws at the Detroit Police Department continue to fall short when it comes to enacting the changes ordered by the U.S. Justice Department. How short? A quarterly report issued by monitor Sheryl Robinson says the department has complied with only two out of 103 changes ordered to, among other things, make holding cells more humane and cut down on the number of people being shot by the cops. Folks at the cop shop blame funding problems. But, really, two out of 103? Even the Lions have a better record than that.

Maize haze: An investigation of five fraternities and two sororities is launched when hazing is alleged. In one case, fraternity pledges were said to have been forced to drink lots of alcohol and then were stuffed in a car trunk and driven around until they either puked or passed out. In other words, with the exception of the trunk stuffing, a fairly typical night for your average college student. There are also reports of sorority girls being stripped and forced to parade naked in front of their Greek bros, and of gals getting to write obscene phrases on the bodies of frat pledges. We say give the kids the benefit of the doubt and assume they were merely preparing for fulfilling careers as military police guarding detainees at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba or the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Viper justice: The New York Times gets hold of a memo indicating that the case against four metro Detroit men charged with terrorism was flawed from the git. Flawed indeed. The high-profile case was viewed as a chance to demonstrate that the U.S. government was making headway in the war against terrorism. But of the four men — all of whom are immigrants from the Middle East — only two were convicted on terrorism charges. Even those convictions didn’t hold up for long. U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen, acting on a highly unusual request from the Justice Department, tossed the convictions, saying lead prosecutor Richard Convertino withheld vital information from defense attorneys. This story breaks new ground, saying “top officials at the Justice Department were involved in almost every step of the prosecution …” It’s a snake that stinks from the head down.

Remarks way off-color: There was a time somewhere around the middle of the last century when it was still considered polite to refer to an African-American as “colored.” For most, those days are long gone. But Mount Clemens City Commissioner John Milkovich has apparently been caught in some sort of personal time warp. It takes him more than a month to apologize for describing a black minister as that “colored fellow,” or, as some say, “colored boy,” during a commission meeting in September. Milkovich says he didn’t realize the term “colored” could possibly offend anyone. A recall petition is launched. Others say they recently overheard Milkovich refer to himself as a “boat nigger.” Hey, who could be offended by that? But it’s not just blacks enjoying the benefit of Milkovich’s eloquence. Earlier in the year, while questioning a hefty lawyer applying for the city attorney job, Milkovich asked the barrister if he intended to lose any weight should he get the position. That little “joke” results in a lawsuit. “I’m wondering if this shows a pattern in his thinking,” the Rev. D.L. Bradley tells the Macomb Daily.

A red-light special: When Kmart CEO Julian Day leaves the company with a compensation package of about $95 million after just 16 months on the job, Oakland Press business editor Gary Gosselin does the math. Day’s little package works out to $296,874.81 per day. To put it all in perspective, Gosselin also does the math on how long it would take a Kmart worker earning $9 an hour to equal that per-day figure: more than 15 years. As Gosselin points out, this going-away present comes at a time when the retailer has “shown double-digit sales losses, fired thousands of employees and closed hundreds of stores.” Nice work if you can get it.

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