City Hall has officially become the Chinese Imperial Palace.
Since the resignation of Deputy Mayor Saul Green a few weeks ago, we’ve been told that Karen Dumas played the role of the scheming wife of the senile emperor -- played by Mayor Dave Bing -- who assassinated her enemies while hiding in the folds of the robe of her doddering old husband.
And like the emperor’s wife, Dumas was handed her head on Friday.
There is no doubt Dumas, who functioned as Bing’s de facto chief of staff, is an abrasive character: hard-charging, self-inflated, a political neophyte who captured the ear of the mayor. If she were a man, we’d be calling her ambitious. But she’s a woman, so we call her unemployed.
But firing Dumas doesn’t fix Bing’s troubles. The fact is he doesn’t know what he’s doing. By my count, the firing of Dumas and Shannon Holmes, his chief of staff, makes 48 top-level executives that have quit Bing or been fired by him.
You had to know there were going to be problems when candidate Bing said he didn’t care about politics or being popular when he stumped for the job more than two years ago. That’s a pretty bold statement for a man who didn’t even know where the executive washroom was.
So who did he surround himself with to help him navigate the corridors of City Hall? Political retreads.
Did Dumas push them out? Or did they walk away because the problems are too deep and too wide?
The fact is, the city has changed. Business no longer gets done over a cocktail. Contracts no longer go to cousins. The feds are barking at everybody’s heels. The media has grown teeth. The governor is threatening to take over the city.
The party is over and the honey pot is empty.
I’ve watched the pronouncements come out of City Hall month after month: the police department was on the mend, ambulances were getting fixed, the abandoned houses were getting torn down, the “rightsizing” of Detroit was under way.
Those pronouncements were half-truths at best. We’ve had three fire commissioners and three police chiefs in two years.
So where does Bing turn now? We need fresh blood in City Hall. People who are intellectually sharp. Honest people. People who can add and subtract.
But the Bing/Dumas/Green drama only shows how shallow the talent pool is.
Before he became deputy mayor for Bing, Saul Green was the deputy mayor for interim Mayor Ken Cockrel Jr., whom Bing defeated in 2009. You may also remember that Cockrel’s chief of staff, John Clark, went to prison for soliciting bribes in the sludge contract scandal. Cockrel has gone back to the city council.
Green was brought to the table by his friend Charlie Beckham, whom Bing had tapped to run his campaign and serve as his chief administrative officer. Beckham, you might recall, served time in the federal penitentiary for his role in water department scandal in the 80’s while working for Mayor Coleman Young.
Green made his bones as the chief legal counsel to Wayne County Executive Ed McNamara. And it is worth noting that McNamara’s chief political counsel was Bernard Kilpatrick, now under federal indictment along with his son, Kwame Kilpatrick, on a raft of corruption charges.
Before Kwame Kilpatrick was sent to the state penitentiary, Dumas worked as his community affairs director, which handled relations with neighborhood organizations and churches.
Dumas has hired Sharon McPhail as her lawyer to fight a lawsuit filed against her this week by a disgruntled former employee, the same Sharon McPhail who represented Kwame Kilpatrick in his sext-message, perjury and obstruction case.
The secretary who filed suit against Dumas and Bing -- Rochelle Collins -- worked for Kirk Lewis, who was Bing’s right-hand man at Bing Steel until the company went bankrupt. So much for business acumen.
Lewis came to City Hall and in little more than a year was fired by his old friend after allegations he was lobbying the governor for a job as the emergency manager of the Detroit Public Schools behind Bing’s back.
Now Lewis is back as chief of staff. I’m told the governor had his hand in that because of Lewis’ said business acumen.
After the nightmare of the Monica Conyers era, it’s funny to think that we’re suddenly looking to city council for leadership.