Detroit Politico’s Five-Figure Five-Finger Tax Discount was a “Clerical Error”
by Byrne Hobart
It’s happened to everyone: one day, your property taxes drop from $1400 a year to $50, and you, well, you figure it’s not a problem. Or if it is a problem, it’s somebody else’s problem.
Detroit City Council member JoAnn Watson has landed in hot water thanks to revalations that she saved a sweet $12,000 over the last nine years. A flurry of media attention forced her to explain exactly what was going on, and a thorough investigation (it lasted about a week). She didn’t exactly get a positive reception when she explained herself:
If anyone here in this circle received a bill and you’ve argued to pay more, just raise your hand.
That’s fine, but if I lived in a notoriously corrupt city, and happened to have a job in politics, I might at least think it looked bad.
And it’s not like Detroit is doing especially well, financially. Did Watson have any idea how many steamy text messages from Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to his chief of staff that money could have paid for? Or how many jobs for the mayor’s friends and family that money could have saved (answer: not many — his associates got raises averaging 36% over two years, while city employees scraped by on raises totally 4% during that time period).
JoAnn Watson’s behavior is inexcusable. The city of Detroit has far more entertaining forms of corruption, some costing just a few cents per ridiculous text message. If she has any sense of civic responsibility, she’ll return the money to the city — or share the wealth and cut a big check to Blagojevich’s defense fund.