With Kwame Kilpatrick in the hoosegow, the city needs a new mayor. Look at this fine list of candidates....
As the race to complete the term of former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick speeds toward the Feb. 24 primary, tax liabilities are expected to come under scrutiny as 15 candidates seek to succeed a mayor whose fall from grace began when he used taxpayer money for private gain. Last week, for example, Dave Bing disclosed his personal income and challenged his opponents to do the same.
Bing, who moved to a Detroit condo this fall from Oakland County, paid $9,995, including $384 in interest, this month to settle property taxes on his home in Franklin. Campaign spokesman Cliff Russell said the bill was a "mishap" that was corrected once it was discovered.Last week, Wayne County Sheriff Warren Evans paid $11,656 in delinquent summer taxes on his Washtenaw County horse farm. He bought the roughly 20-acre farm in 2001 for $590,000, according to property records. Tax bills on his three rental properties in Detroit and Grosse Pointe had already been up to date.
"It was an oversight," said Bob Berg, a spokesman for Evans' campaign. Evans rents an apartment in Detroit and that address is on his voter registration, but he uses the address for his farm, located along a gravel road in Salem Township, to register his motorcycle. It also is listed as the address on some of the mortgages and tax records for his business interests. Evans, who does not declare any of the properties as a primary residence to reduce his tax bill, paid the overdue bill after his campaign was contacted by The Detroit News.
Owing the most for unpaid income tax is candidate Duane Montgomery, an engineering consultant. According to liens filed by the IRS and the state of Michigan, he owes $34,697 in federal and Michigan income taxes. Montgomery outlines some of his woes on his Web site -- www.4etr.com -- that includes a receipt from the IRS stating he overpaid his federal taxes last year and the excess was used to reduce his debt.
"If there are skeletons in my closet, then they are listed here," writes Montgomery on the site. He didn't return phone calls seeking elaboration.
First-time candidate Jerroll Sanders, a businesswoman who recently moved to Michigan from Missouri, owes $19,650 in taxes, according to liens filed in St. Louis.
On Dec. 23, Sanders explained the liens as the result of "political malfeasance" waged against her by operatives in the federal government that began in 1999 when she lost a government contract. "We are going to slug this out," she said last week from a home she owns in Missouri.
Observers say the way candidates handle their tax obligations is a fair indicator of how seriously they take their role as public servants and how responsible they would be as mayor.