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Believe it or not

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Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick told hundreds of sweaty seniors last week not to believe everything they read in the papers when it comes to battles between himself and the City Council.

“I have a whole lot of love for City Council,” Kilpatrick assured the crowd of voters as they consumed truckloads of hot dogs and coleslaw at the Belle Isle picnic. (News Hits nervously wondered when the first grandparent would pass out in the skin-scorching heat; we saw no fainting.)

The mayor told News Hits things aren’t as bad as headlines suggest, but newspapers “love the sexiness of people fighting.”

No kidding. Before Kilpatrick’s speech, News Hits couldn’t keep its eyes off the mayor and Detroit News reporter Darci McConnell as they squabbled. Since we couldn’t hear what was said, News Hits imagined Kilpatrick to complain, “McConnell, enough already with the harsh critiques of my administration and its fumbles. Why can’t you guys write soft stories about me like the Detroit Free Press?”

Actually, a little bird told us the mayor is indeed upset with the News for its recent coverage. For instance, Kilpatrick last week announced his hiring of Carolyn Williams Meza as Detroit’s chief operating officer to oversee the city’s day-to-day operations. The next day, the News questioned Meza’s qualifications and experience, pointing out she’s been unemployed since 1999 after getting burned out from running Chicago’s Park District. The Freep, conversely, wrote the equivalent of a press release. As far as News Hits can tell, the News was simply doing its job. But according to the mayor, things are going splendidly and the media is mucking up a mud storm. In fact, he gets downright defensive when questioned about problems. Two thoughts: A) the media works for the public, not the mayor; and B) the mayor’s a big enough guy to take his hits like a champ. As for wrangling with council, President Maryann Mahaffey said indeed there is a problem. She said the council is united to fight what it deems as an affront to Detroit’s legislative authority and the city’s system of checks and balances. “The administration hasn’t taken the time to talk to us and talk to people about what works and what doesn’t work,” says Mahaffey, who noted that the mayor ignored her numerous calls until this weekend. “It’s, ‘I know what works and I’m going to do it and get out of my way.’”

Lisa M. Collins is a Metro Times staff writer. E-mail lcollins@metrotimes.com

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