TIM SKUBICK: Not all politicians are crooked

The kids were high school National Honor Society members. The crème de la crème.

How many believe that all politicians are crooks? They were asked during a give and take on state government.

90 percent of the hands went up. 90 percent!

Guess what boys and girls, it’s not true. If it was, the capitol press corps would be working out of Jackson prison not the state capitol.

There’s no question that elected officials give the citizens lots of reasons to question their integrity, but let’s be honest here. Michigan is not Illinois where governors routinely spend more time behind bars than they do in the governor’s seat.

The bulk of the officials over the years in Lansing have toiled in the public interest not their own. No grand jury has ever swooped into town and snared one crook after another.

Yet the behavior of a few crooked pols, allows the public to grab that broad brush and tarnish everyone just like those smart high school kids who thought there was not an honest apple in the bunch.

The truth be known, the kids got that opinion from their parents and the parents got it from the news media which provides a steady drum beat of bad news concerning bad guys in the political process and pretty soon, every believes they are all rotten apples

Just look at Kwame Kilpatrick. Think of a crime and he’s done it according to the courts.

Taking bribes, steering contracts to a friend, extorting business persons, deceiving donors, living high on the hog on all that graft and beefing up the Detroit payroll with cronies and family members.

There was so much potential way back when.

It was one of those Pure Michigan mornings. The sun beat down on the front steps of the capitol where CBS 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace was holding court. The politicians were buzzing all around Mikey as he relished all the attention as everyone wanted to be in the story he was doing.

And there in the crowd was Rep. Kwame Kilpatrick. Back then he was an “up and coming” star in the Democratic Party. There was talk that maybe some day he’d be the state’s first African-American governor long before the first African-American president even though about it.

Mr. Kilpatrick with a smile a mile wide warned Wallace about a certain capitol correspondent who was grilling Mr. Wallace for a change.

“He does that with all us,” all the time the charismatic Mr. Kilpatrick advised.

The correspondent then abruptly turned his microphone and asked the Detroit Democrat, “Is it true you cannot be mayor of Detroit?”

He did not miss a beat sending back the volley, “I’ll definitely be mayor of Detroit. There’s no problem with that.”

He turned out to be right, but he was wrong about the “problems with that.”

Of course, Mr. K. is not the only crook to wend his way through Lansing.

The Rogue’s gallery is not as huge as you might expect but it’s respectable.

The list includes former U.P Peninsula Sen. Joe Mack who was double dipping on his state expense account; Senator Arthur Cartwright of Detroit who padded his restaurant bills he turned into the state; Rep. Monte Geralds got bounced for embezzlement, former Sen. Basil Brown got caught up in a drug raid and former Rep. Casmer Ogonowski was convicted on extortion charges.

But if we consider the thousands of legislators who have come and gone, the vast majority have played it straight.

The media does not report on that, but perhaps, in fairness, it should.