by Curt Guyette
Just when it looked as if the current Detroit City Council might make it through a full term without creating any distracting scandals, we learn that Council President Charles Pugh (pictured above) may have engaged in what’s been described as “inappropriate” behavior with a teenaged boy.
Pugh, the council's first openly gay member, went AWOL just before the controversy went public. Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr acted quickly, not because of the allegations being made by the boy’s mother or the lawyer she’s retained, but because he saw no reason to keep providing Pugh with an $80,000 annual salary if the council president wasn’t going to be doing any actual work.
It was reported that Pugh can retain his title, and will still be allowed to show up at meetings if he wants. It’s not clear if his vote would actually count, but what does that really matter? Anything this council does is basically subject to Orr’s approval, so it really only has the illusion of authority anyway.
Which may be why there are an increasing number of vacant chairs around the council table. Kwame Kenyatta, who’s also been a frequent no-show, resigned last week because of medical issue. And Gary Brown, who had already announced that he wouldn’t be seeking a second term, said he’d be leaving early to take $225,000-a-year job working as Orr’s chief compliance officer.
As if all that weren’t excitement enough, we also saw Mike Duggan’s re-emergence as a mayoral candidate. It was only last week that Duggan, after twice being told by the courts that he didn’t meet the charter’s residency requirement to run for office, said that the political damage already suffered was so extensive that he wouldn’t even bother trying to appeal his case to the state Supreme Court.
Now, it seems, the damage wasn’t all that devastating after all, because Duggan has announced that he’s back in the race, running as a write-in candidate. Normally, that scenario would all but guarantee defeat. But with a relatively weak field of candidates to compete against and the city’s two daily papers embarrassingly pimping for Duggan, no one seems to be thinking this is merely a quixotic gesture on Big Mike’s part.
In terms of Detroit politics, we’ve long grown accustomed to seeing the crazy meter edge into the red zone, but it’s difficult to recall a week that’s contained as much all-round upheaval as this one.
— Curt Guyette