Letting Kilpatrick Enterprise contractors skate creates moral hazard
You will forgive me if I can’t muster the sympathy to even play the world’s smallest violin for Soave’s misfortune.
Whatever the power dynamic of the Soave-Kilpatrick relationship, Soave made out pretty well on the deal--just like all the other businessmen who allegedly paid into the Kilpatrick Enterprise. Soave had special access to multimillion dollar public contracts in exchange for the vulgar trinkets that the Kilpatricks craved—basketball tickets, leased SUVs, and airplane rides. Seriously, if the alleged arrangement between Kilpatrick and Soave was extortion, please, someone extort me.
As heartwarming as a federal Kilpatrick conviction would be, I’m seriously wondering when the clowns who kept the Kilpatrick Civic Fund flush will find themselves taking group showers in a men’s penal colony.
It really doesn’t matter if Kilpatrick extorted the bribes or if they were freely given as a cost of doing business, everyone had a choice in the matter: Pay and play or sit out the rigged game and run your business with integrity.
Those who allegedly paid and played were allowed to circumvent a bidding process that is supposed to ensure every qualified bidder has an honest shot at winning public work. The process is also supposed to ensure that taxpayers receive the best possible work from public contractors at the most efficient price.
Guys like Soave cheated their honest competition and helped screw the taxpayers. Even if, Karl Kado-like saint that he is, Soave didn’t pad his city contracts or fold-in the extortion/bribes as a business expense, the Kilpatrick Enterprise indictment certainly alleges others did. Everyone involved in this corrupt bargain is complicit in the gouging of taxpayers.
And look, it’s no surprise the businessmen are getting the plea deals in exchange for cooperation. These guys may be dirty but they aren’t stupid. They know if they tell their tale, the punishment will be light. The Kilpatricks, on the other hand, fully intend to (if convicted) do their time standing up. Theirs is a kind of dull machismo that usually betrays deeper Freudian insecurities.
Nonetheless, there’s a moral hazard being established here. If you play dirty to get public contracts, this process is essentially saying, the consequences will be minimal. Karl Kado received probation. Soave and others receive an occasional unflattering newspaper article.
Until some contractor actually finds himself at the defendant’s table with Kwame, Bernard, and Bobby, then the lesson is paying to play is always the smart move. Competing for public contracts with integrity is a sucker’s bet.
That’s not exactly justice for everyday Detroit residents and taxpayers.