March 11, 2009 at 1:00 am

Texts reveal insights on ex-mayor's life

Kwame Kilpatrick, we now know, was many things: football player, philanderer, charismatic mayor and now a convicted felon.

But was he also a one-time drug dealer? Or is he merely a leg-puller?

The question -- among several others -- was raised from the mountain of text messages released Monday. In a snippet of one conversation with Christine Beatty, then his chief of staff and paramour, Kilpatrick appears to confide in a secret: He sold marijuana while in college.

After Beatty asked him, on Sept. 9, 2004, to divulge something she didn't know, he demurred. She offered her own tidbits, about flunking tennis in college and naming a boy she kissed when she was 13.

After a few more exchanges, Kilpatrick decided to share: "You TOLD ME. OK, I SOLD WEED IN COLLEGE!"

Beatty's response was brief and with a measure with some disbelief: "WHHHHAAAAATTTT! THAT'S A GOOD ONE!!"

Kilpatrick then answered, "LOLOLOLOL! YEP!"

The exchange is one of hundreds that reveal little about the inner workings of the mayor's office but offer a colorful insight into his world and that of his friends, family and co-workers.

On many days, the Kilpatrick administration was clearly focused on the media and damage control. They make multiple references to stories by the newspapers and TV stations as they try to line up supporters -- at one point trying to coach young employees on how to call a popular radio show -- to answer and deflect criticism.

But sometimes, it appears the administration doubted its own story. One-time mayoral spokesman Dave Manney was helping to craft the response to news that the city bought a Lincoln Navigator for use by first lady Carlita Kilpatrick. At first, the city said it wasn't true and said it was a police vehicle. Days later, they admitted it was for the mayor's wife.

Before that admission, though, Manney sent a message on Jan. 20, 2005, to Ruth Carter, then the mayor's top lawyer, that questions the soundness of the plan.

"Also ... the 'plan' to deal with NaviGate is like death by a thousand paper cuts. Issue a statement that splits hairs and make Mayor available to press. Bob Berg is trying, but won't work. Strategy relies on outrageously unbelievable timeline and Mayor being calm and cool with press..."

Insults of the region's and state's most powerful were common, with the mayor's father Bernard, in June 2003, calling Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano "a weasel," and Carter saying, on Feb. 23, 2004, that Prosecutor Kym Worthy looked "a lot like an easter egg on crack."

They are part of dozens of exchanges in which salty language and coarse exchanges were the norm.

Often, though, they can just be quizzical: Can someone who helps run a city that borders Canada not know where Montreal is? After Kilpatrick suggests a rendezvous there in December 2003, Beatty asks him: "WHERE IS THAT?" Luckily, she has an idea: "IN CANADA?" He confirms it: "Lol. Yes Canada."

Four months later, in April 2004, Kilpatrick suggests taking Beatty for a getaway weekend at a spa in April 2004. Excited, Beatty asked if they could drive together.

"Yes," Kilpatrick wrote. But in a nod to the things folks do to hide affairs, he added a not-so-chivalrous caveat: "You would have to Park somewhere across Bridge."

Kilpatrick has his own head scratchers, including one in January 2004 that also touches on geography. He texted his father the query: "What Country is Amsterdam in?"

The messages released this week show no reply. But here's the answer: It's the largest city in The Netherlands, where, incidentally, marijuana has been decriminalized.

You can reach Mike Wilkinson at (313) 222-2563 or mwilkinson@detnews.com">mwilkinson@detnews.com.