Shocking Outburst Halts City Council Hearing
Last Update: 9:03 pm
A shocking outburst by Detroit City Council President Pro Tem Monica Conyers, in which she referred to the council president as the movie character Shrek and taunted him to "do it baby" when he threatened to adjourn a hearing, brought proceedings to a temporary halt.
WATCH THE SHOCKING OUTBURST IN VIDEO PLAYER RIGHT - RAW VIDEO FOLLOWS ACTION NEWS REPORT
The outburst, during the third day of council hearings about Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's secret deal to settle the police whistleblower case, came as members were questioning an independent attorney.
The meeting began to fall apart just before noon when Conyers and Councilwoman JoAnne Watson began arguing. President Ken Cockrel brought the meeting back to order, but couldn't control Conyers. The exchange:
With all due respect president pro tem, I have the floor ... you just jumped on another councilmember about interrupting and now you're doing it to me. I have the floor.
We know you do. But I said based upon...
I have the floor president pro tem.
The floor's out there.
I don't want to hear you anymore.
You don't have to hear me. We don't have to hear you.
Then be quiet because I'm speaking.
No, you not my daddy. You do that at home, not here.
I'm not your father, but I am the president and right now I have the floor.
Exactly, so treat me with respect. Cause I'm tired of that. Be respectful. You may not do that at home, but you gonna do it up in here.
Grow up. Control your house and you know how to treat other women better.
You're the last one to talk.
I'm the first one to talk - Shrek. Shrek! The first one to talk. Don't disrespect me.
I will call this to adjourn.
Do it baby! Do it! Do it!
We're going to take a brief recess.
Do it! Cause ya'll not gonna disrespect me up here.
You're the one who just interrupted me.
No, I did not.
DETROIT (AP) - A longtime attorney said Friday that lawyers representing Kwame Kilpatrick did not need to rush to settle an $8.4 million whistle-blowers' lawsuit after learning of sexually explicit text messages apparently linking the mayor romantically to his ex-top aide.
Carl Edwards, speaking as a legal expert, said lawyer Sam McCargo and members of the city's law department had legal tools to challenge the release of the embarrassing messages from former Chief of Staff Christine Beatty's pager.
"If lawyers involved in the case knew those text messages were to be turned over to the judge, then there is absolutely no rush to judgment concerning those messages," Edwards told Detroit City Council members during the third day of hearings delving into actions behind the settlement.
Council members say Kilpatrick and lawyers on the city's payroll did not make them aware of a confidential agreement referencing the text messages when they approved the settlement last fall.
They say the agreement they approved did not include any references to text messages.
Michael Stefani, who represented three former Detroit police officers in two separate whistle-blowers' lawsuits, testified Tuesday that he used references to the messages in a motion for attorney's fees to spur on stalled settlement negotiations in one of the suits.
McCargo testified Thursday that he worried the release of the messages would be damaging to his client, Kilpatrick.
But those fears were unfounded, Edwards said.
"Once Mr. Stefani threatened the city with these text messages, the city lawyers could have filed a series of motions and shut it," Edwards said.
Edwards said in his opinion, Kilpatrick and Beatty also could be liable to the settlement amount because they signed the confidentiality agreement as individuals and not as city representatives.
That sparked interest from several council members.
"In my opinion the city wasn't even being bound by the confidentiality agreement," he said.
The two agreement documents also present problems in decision-making by the city's lawyers, Edwards added.
"I have settled many cases where there have been confidentiality agreements, but never where there is a separate confidentiality agreement," he said. "It is highly irregular."
The hearing tested the patience of some council members. Toward the end of Edwards' testimony, Council President Ken Cockrel Jr. and President Pro Tem Monica Conyers launched into a shouting match over interruptions during the proceedings.
Friday's hearing began with testimony from Wayne State University law school Dean Frank Wu. City Corporation Counsel John Johnson was to testify later Friday.
Kilpatrick and Beatty were arraigned last month in Detroit's 36th District Court and face a June 9 preliminary examination on perjury, misconduct and obstruction of justice charges.
Early Friday afternoon, Kilpatrick was in court in Detroit for a hearing where a judge clarified the conditions of his bond governing his travel. The terms were set at his arraignment last month.
Kilpatrick and Beatty are accused of lying under oath during last summer's whistle-blowers' trial. Kilpatrick and Beatty denied having a romantic relationship in 2002 and 2003. Kilpatrick also is accused of lying under oath about his role in the firing of one of the officers.
Excerpts of the text messages published in January by the Detroit Free Press contradict their testimony.
Despite testimony during the council hearings by lawyers representing the city and Kilpatrick, city officials continue to deny any wrongdoing.
"The documents forwarded to council to settle this matter were no different from the hundreds of other settlements routinely recommended by the Corporation Counsel's office and approved by Council without comment," city of Detroit General Counsel Sharon McPhail said Friday in a statement.
"Confidential agreements are a part of virtually every settlement agreement."
Settling the case for the $8.4 million also was "in the best interest of the city," she said.
"By Mr. Stefani's own testimony, he was seeking $11 million from the city but settled for $8.4 million," McPhail said.