Mayorial mischief
Acton Institute Powerblog

Mayorial mischief

In a row over the Freedom of Information Act, Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick‘s administration has finally acknowledged expense information first requested by media outlets nearly two years ago. According to the Detroit Free Press, documents were turned over last month, “But in dozens of instances, pages were missing, or information on the city-supplied records was blacked out.”

Now that the Free Press has obtained unedited and complete copies of the records, comparison of the two sets of papers shows, “The information blacked out on records the city provided frequently dealt with Kilpatrick’s spending while out of town,” and, “More than a dozen documents dealing with the Kilpatrick administration and his family’s spending at hotels were not included with what the city turned over to the newspaper. Those documents were included in Harris’ unedited records.”

Poor bookkeeping practices, disputes of charges, and reimbursements were cited by Kilpatrick for the delay in making the documents public. Here’s an example of the kinds of charges made on Kilpatrick’s city-issued credit card:

In January 2003, when Kilpatrick went to Washington for the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ winter meeting, the city was billed for 36 hours of chauffeur service during the 62 hours Kilpatrick spent in the capital, according to detailed receipts obtained from the auditor.

The total cost to taxpayers was $3,837.60. City officials blacked out all but $135.15 of those charges from the mayor’s credit card statement and pulled receipts before providing documents to the newspaper. Beatty said the city is disputing those charges, too, and did not provide documentation.

For more about the rude reception an investigative reporter received when following Kilpatrick to a recent mayors’ convention, see this post.

For my take on proposals like Kilpatrick’s “fast-food tax,” see this op-ed from Sunday’s Oakland Press.

And for other mayorial mischief, see this piece (here) on Grand Rapids mayor George Heartwell’s contention that his position deserves a raise to $85,000 per year, more than double the current salary.

Jordan J. Ballor

Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is director of research at the Center for Religion, Culture & Democracy, an initiative of the First Liberty Institute. He has previously held research positions at the Acton Institute and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and has authored multiple books, including a forthcoming introduction to the public theology of Abraham Kuyper. Working with Lexham Press, he served as a general editor for the 12 volume Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology series, and his research can be found in publications including Journal of Markets & Morality, Journal of Religion, Scottish Journal of Theology, Reformation & Renaissance Review, Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Faith & Economics, and Calvin Theological Journal. He is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary and the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity & Politics at Calvin University.