The Michigan Daily - Thursday, November 8, 2001- 5A
Better safe than sorry
Kilpatrick discusses new
plans to improve Detroit
DETROIT (AP) - His voice hoarse
from little sleep and a lot of cheering,
newly elected mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
yesterday talked about revamping the
police department, improving neighbor-
hoods and creating the type of city that can
compete with the world.
From college football player to school
teacher to state representative, Kilpatrick, at
age 31, embarks on the latest in a whirlwind
political career, becoming one of the youngest
elected mayors of Detroit.
It's a job that comes with a laundry list of
challenges, further compounded by an esti-
mated multimillion-dollar budget shortfall.
The state House Democratic leader
defeated City Council president Gil Hill on
Tuesday. He replaces Mayor Dennis Archer,
who announced in April he would not seek
a third term. With 91 percent of precincts
reporting yesterday, Kilpatrick had 104,287
votes or 54 percent to Hill's 88,992 votes or
Kilpatrick has grown up with politics. His
father is Bernard Kilpatrick, chief of staff to
Wayne County executive Ed McNamara and
a former Wayne County commissioner. His
mother is U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kil-
patrick. He takes congratulatory phone calls
from Al Gore and Dick Gephardt.
When he was done talking to Gephardt on
yesterday, he passed the
phone to his mother,
telling Gephardt, "my
mom wants to talk to you
a little bit."
Rep. John Hansen (D-
Dexter), said Kilpatrick
has worked to bring
Democrats and Republi-
cans in the House together
and has taught leadership
Kilpatrick skills to people who are
almost twice his age.
"I think Detroit has a future. Kwame repre-
sents the future. The man is born to lead,"
But leading the city of Detroit, with its
declining population, high crime rate, bro-
ken street lights, poor transportation system
and thousands of abandoned structures will
be a different challenge.
Political analysts suggested before the
election that campaign promises would
immediately be broken because of a pro-
jected $33 million budget shortfall for the
Kilpatrick acknowledged the tough road
"We'll never experience the kind of incredi-
ble ups and incredible downs as we'll face in
the next four, eight, 12 years," Kilpatrick said.
But he said that during his campaign he always
stressed organization, which "costs nothing."
"We want to spend our first 180 days on
organization, making sure the city works. We
can't compete and we'll never have any money
if the city isn't organized," Kilpatrick said.
He lists education, neighborhoods and the
city's beleaguered police department as areas
ripe for restructuring.
Improving the police department, he said,
includes taking officers from task forces and
putting them back into precincts, making
commanders accountable and working with
The police department is under investigation
by the U.S. Justice Department over fatal shoot-
ings by Detroit officers, prisoner deaths in lock-
ups and allegations that detectives illegally
detained potential homicide witnesses.
At the City of Detroit's vote counting headquarters, an election worker wears a protective mask
and gloves as he processes absentee ballots.
Problems encountered in counting absentee ballots
Even with absentee tallies,
Kilpatrick maintains eight
point lead over Hill
DETROIT (AP) - Absentee ballots in the
city's election were still being tallied yester-
day after a problem counting absentee ballots
halted the process for hours.
Elections officials temporarily stopped
their count shortly after noon Tuesday, after
the state said the city failed to use software
designed to identify flawed ballots.
The count resumed at 7 p.m., City Clerk
Jackie Currie said.
"The votes will be counted and everybody
who voted by absentee, as long as they didn't
overvote, their votes will be counted," Mayor
Dennis Archer said.
Secretary of State spokeswoman Elizabeth
Boyd said elections officials expected to be
finished counting the absentee ballots by
Despite the counting problems, Kwame
Kilpatrick defeated Gil Hill to become one
of the youngest elected mayors in Detroit's
With 91 percent of precincts reporting,
Kilpatrick had 104,287 votes or 54 percent
to Hill's 88,992 votes or 46 percent.
Wayne County Circuit Judge Cynthia
Stephens ordered the clerk's office to count
the absentee ballots using the state-mandated
software, including re-counting 13,000 bal-
lots that already had been tabulated using an
electronic scanning system. '
In order to make sure every vote counts,
state officials directed clerks to use software
that kicks out problem ballots, allowing
clerks to determine if it is a valid vote, state
elections director Chris Thomas said.
The state did not order the city to stop
counting absentee ballots, but told them to
start using the software, he said. Regular bal-
lots from polling places were not affected.
Flawed ballots include so-called overvotes,
in which too many candidates are selected
for a specific race, and ballots that are filled
out by a pen or pencil that can't be read by a
Overvoting one race did not void an
entire ballot, so few if any ballots would be
thrown out entirely, Currie said. She did not
know how many absentee ballots contained
State officials found out Tuesday morning
that Detroit election workers weren't follow-
ing the stkte's mandate, Thomas said.
"The fact that it must be implemented is
not their option," he said.
"We have uniform standards, and we cer-
tainly intend to enforce them," Secretary of
State Candice Miller said.
Currie, who was running for re-election,
said earlier that city officials started using
the same procedures Tuesday that they had
used during the September primary. They
had no indication there was a problem until
the state intervened in the middle of the
count, she said.
LANSING (AP) - Consumers
Energy's natural gas customers will
see their monthly bills increase
between $15 and $25 this winter,
the Jackson-based utility said yes-
November's average monthly gas
bill is expected to be $50.78, more
than the average $42.86 bill at the
same time last year.
The utility is charging $3.72 per
thousand cubic feet for gas this
The average household uses
10,000 cubic feet per month.
In December, gas bills are
expected to increase to an average
$87.30 because the utility will
charge $3.85 per thousand cubic
feet of gas, an increase of 3.5 per-
cent. Last December, the average
monthly bill was $71.14.
Consumers Energy expects to
continue charging $3.85 per thou-
sand cubic feet until April 2002,
but bills will fluctuate based on
The winter increase is lower than
the $40 to $60 hike Consumers
Energy originally anticipated just
before finishing its three-year con-
tract with the state earlier this year
to keep its rates frozen at $2.84 per
thousand cubic feet.
Carl English, Consumers Energy
president and chief executive offi-
cer for natural gas, said the utility's
1.6 million gas customers are bene-
fiting from good timing.
"Our frozen rate protected them
from the big price jumps last win-
ter," English said. "Natural gas
prices have dropped since then."
November bills also will include
a pamphlet outlining assistance
programs available to low-income
families who may have trouble pay-
ing their heating bills.
The Home Heating Credit is one
of the ways customers could reduce
their heating bills. Customers who
apply for the credit beginning in
January could receive up to $150 to
help them afford their bills.
Earlier this week, Michigan Con-
solidated Gas Co. said it expects to
charge gas customers around $4.50
per thousand cubic feet beginning
on Jan. 1, 2002, up from $2.95 last
year. The utility is scheduled to fin-