March 10, 2009 at 1:00 am

Regime saw enemies in media, council

Finger-pointing, race card among tactics in issues of controversy

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DETROIT -- Blame the other guy, resist efforts at transparency and don't be afraid to play the race card.

Those were themes seen in some text messages made public Monday that were sent by former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, his staff, family members and friends. Through 600 pages, Kilpatrick and staffers rail against the media, outsiders, the City Council and -- sometimes -- white people.

Often feeling the brunt of the Kilpatrick administration's fury was Sharon McPhail, who in 2002 was a City Council member frequently at odds with the administration, but later became Kilpatrick's general counsel and staunch supporter.

On Aug. 16, 2002, then-corporation counsel Ruth Carter sent a message to Kilpatrick saying that then-Wayne County Prosecutor Michael Duggan thought McPhail would be a good choice for a Michigan Supreme Court candidate. Carter, who served in the Kilpatrick administration from 2002-05 and is now a 36th District Court judge, did not think so.

"I think shes evil and must be destroyed. :)" Carter wrote.

On Jan. 28, 2003, another government official messaged Carter: "Apparently, McP (McPhail) is on radio calling mayor a thug and alleging he tried to electrocute her rigging her office chair."

Carter fired back to Kilpatrick: "It's official. You're a thug plotting to kill her b/c of her vote on the casinos."

Carter did not return a phone call seeking comment.

McPhail said she does not believe legally the messages should have been released. She was "surprised' at Carter's comments but "people say all kinds of thing in private when they don't think those things will be repeated."

When criticism rained down on the administration or when things didn't go its way, the specter of race was raised quickly.

One of the most vexing situations for Kilpatrick was Police Chief Jerry Oliver, hand-picked to reform the department. On Oct. 18, 2003, airport security officials confiscated a loaded, unregistered gun belonging to Oliver after the firearm was found in his checked baggage when he was boarding an airline flight.

The incident ignited a flurry of discussions between the city and then-prosecutor Duggan over the case. City officials debated a severance package and worried about charges. Oliver eventually resigned and paid a fine.

On Oct. 23, 2003, Carter texted Kilpatrick: "Mr. Mayor, the meeting went okay as long as you subscribe to JO (Oliver) theory that White people are behind this."

On Oct. 26, 2003, Kilpatrick exhibited unexplained anger at his and Duggan's political party.

Kilpatrick wrote to his longtime friend and city official Derrick Miller: "I don't like Democrats! I'm sorry."

Miller: "They are racist!"

Even citizens were not spared the spite of Kilpatrick's inner circle. In 2003, the former mayor's sister, Ayanna Kilpatrick, expressed her disappointment in election results by texting Beatty and Kilpatrick: "How do you educate voters in a city full of idiots ... ?!"

Even when the media turned against him, race was viewed as the motivator for negative coverage in the press.

Shortly after former Deputy Chief Gary Brown was fired, The Detroit News wrote an editorial criticizing the leadership of the Kilpatrick team.

"When do I get to speak for myself?" Beatty complained on June 26, 2003. She wanted to write a response to the editorial. "This is really a knock on my ability to lead and it is a woman thing. Their comment is pretty much saying 'little woman sit down and let the mayor and chief do their job.' "

Kilpatrick replied: "You get to do that in speeches. This is about Me and my ability to administrate and lead. You prove your worth with work. Not countering the Detroit News Ed. Brd."

Beatty: "I hear you BOSS."

Kilpatrick continued: "White Men will never define you the way you want. They WILL respect you!"

The administration was circumspect about public requests for public information.

In October 2002, Carter notified the mayor that the media was "at it again" after a reporter submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for Manoogian Mansion tapes and the names and ranks of the police officers assigned to Kilpatrick and his wife.

And when former Detroit News reporter Darci McConnell was spotted having lunch with a councilwoman, Carter dubbed them the "demonic duo!" in a May 14, 2003, message to Kilpatrick.

You can reach David Josar at (313) 222-2073 or">