Politicians who break the law should lose their jobs

Serving the people of Detroit is a privilege Gabe Leland forfeited long ago

By M.L. Elrick

It never should have taken this long for Detroit to be rid of the now former City Councilman Gabe Leland.

It’s been seven years since I first raised questions about Leland’s fitness to serve the people of Detroit; nearly four years since I revealed that he voted to give $2 million in city contracts to companies owned by his then-girlfriend; more than three years since I exposed his effort to get $15,000 in illegal payments from a Detroit businessman and a federal grand jury indicted him on public corruption charges; and nearly a year since his own attorney acknowledged Leland committed a felony and would plead guilty to misconduct in office.

Today, Leland resigned from office after telling a judge what we already knew — he broke the law. Afterward, Mayor Mike Duggan said: “The charges against Gabe Leland were a negative cloud hanging over the City of Detroit. With his decision to resign, we can now move forward and focus on the business of rebuilding the city.”

Amazingly, this was the first time a Detroit official criticized Leland’s conduct. For months, I’ve been calling for Leland to resign, or for his colleagues to defund his office. Yet he continued to enjoy the privileges of a city councilman. He continued to drive a city vehicle and draw a salary of nearly $90,000 off the backs of the hardworking people who voted for him. That sent the wrong message to Detroiters who elect officials based on the promises they make while running for office and the progress they make when they get in.

Elected officials are held to a higher standard because they take an oath to serve the people. But it’s been clear for far too long that the only people Leland was interested in serving were himself and his cronies.

For more than 20 years, I’ve been holding public officials in Detroit and throughout Michigan accountable. Now, as a candidate for Detroit City Council in District 4, I’m hearing from neighbors who agree we deserve accountability, safety, and opportunity from the people we elect. 

I’ve been knocking on doors since January, and voters tell me they agree we need opportunities to help better ourselves and our families—not opportunists like Leland interested in enriching himself.

We want leaders who are dedicated to our safety. We want honest officials in office protecting our tax dollars and setting an example by abiding by the law — just like the rest of us are expected to do.

We expect elected officials to be held to the same standards we’re held to and to pay the same price when those standards are broken. Who among us would have been allowed to keep our job under the same circumstances as Gabe Leland? 

Leland is gone, but it never should have taken this long.

For years, I’ve called out officials who put self-service before public service. Detroiters know I’ll never sit in silence next to someone who has violated his oath and betrayed us all.

What Detroit politics need now is honest change.

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M.L. Calls for Gabe Leland’s Immediate Resignation

M.L. calling for the immediate resignation of Gabe Leland.

M.L. Calls for Gabe Leland’s Immediate Resignation

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Journalist M.L. Elrick vows to battle for transparency in Detroit City Council race

“I started my career as a reporter 30 years ago and I spent much of that time putting government under scrutiny, exposing waste, incompetence, corruption. I’ve also told the stories of underdogs, people who are mistreated, abused, their rights denied,” said Elrick, a former Detroit Free Press reporter. “It’s no longer enough for me to be just the scorekeeper, it’s time for me to get in the game.”

Journalist M.L. Elrick vows to battle for transparency in Detroit City Council race

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Detroit — Journalist M.L. Elrick laid out a platform of opportunity, safety and accountability Monday as he kicked off a campaign for an east side City Council seat. 

Elrick, with his family at his side, stood at the front entrance of the shuttered former paint store on East Warren Avenue that he worked at as a teenager, telling a small crowd that Detroiters need elected officials who “put public service above self-service.”

“I started my career as a reporter 30 years ago and I spent much of that time putting government under scrutiny, exposing waste, incompetence, corruption. I’ve also told the stories of underdogs, people who are mistreated, abused, their rights denied,” said Elrick, a former Detroit Free Press reporter. “It’s no longer enough for me to be just the scorekeeper, it’s time for me to get in the game.”

The Pulitzer Prize-winner and “Soul of Detroit” podcast host known for investigative reports involving elected officials turned in petition signatures Monday morning to be vetted for the August primary.

Elrick in a 2018 television investigation scrutinized Spivey’s collection of nominating petition signatures for the ballot in the last city election cycle. The report centered on allegations that Spivey and his campaign had misrepresented who circulated ballot petitions. In the report, Elrick noted it is unlawful for circulators to say they witnessed the signing of a petition when they did not. Spivey, in a written response to Elrick from an attorney, said campaign workers were given clear instructions to follow the rules in obtaining petition signatures. The letter added that a deadline for filing a complaint over the petition signatures had elapsed. 

Elrick is among a high-profile field of potential contenders for the seat. The East English Village neighborhood resident made his bid official a week after fellow contender Toson Knight, a youth mentor and dean of students for the city’s public school district, shared his intentions with supporters in the Eden Gardens neighborhood. Retired Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Virgil Smith also has said he plans to make a bid for the seat. Spivey’s chief of staff, Keith Jones, also has pulled petitions for the District 4 seat.

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Podcast: Detroit journalist on his bid for city council

Authentically Detroit is a BridgeDetroit partner podcast that tells the stories of Detroiters’ lives through exposition and interview. In this episode, hosts Orlando Bailey and Donna Givens Davidson talk with M.L. Elrick, investigative journalist turned candidate for city council in District 4.

Podcast: Detroit journalist on his bid for city council

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Authentically Detroit is a BridgeDetroit partner podcast that tells the stories of Detroiters’ lives through exposition and interview. 

In this episode, hosts Orlando Bailey and Donna Givens Davidson talk with M.L. Elrick, investigative journalist turned candidate for city council in District 4.

Last week, Bailey and Givens Davidson critiqued the role of the media in Detroit and Elrick’s place in it. Elrick wanted a chance to respond.

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‘Craig Fahle Show:’ Reporter M.L. Elrick Wants To Be A Detroit Councilman. Why?

“If I have a message to get out to the people of Detroit, I know how to do it, and I’m not going to be shy about doing it. And I’m not going to run from a camera and I’m not going to hide from a reporter. And in fact, I’m going to call reporters and I’m going to say, here’s what you need to know. Here’s what we’re doing.”

‘Craig Fahle Show:’ Reporter M.L. Elrick Wants To Be A Detroit Councilman. Why?

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You probably recognize investigative reporter M.L. Elrick, the guy chasing after a politician in a parking lot or gettting into a shouting match with a criminal defense attorney after the Kwame Kilpatrick trial or questioning a state lawmaker about skirting the residency requirement.

Now the city resident, husband and father of two wants to trade in his reporter chops to run for Detroit City Council. Elrick, who has worked for Fox 2 and WDIV, just took a buyout from the Detroit Free Press, where he won a Pulitizer Prize in 2009.

“If I’m on the council, where I’m coming from will never be a mystery,” he says in an interview on the “Craig Fahle Show” on Deadline Detroit.

“If I have a message to get out to the people of Detroit, I know how to do it, and I’m not going to be shy about doing it. And I’m not going to run from a camera and I’m not going to hide from a reporter. And in fact, I’m going to call reporters and I’m going to say, here’s what you need to know. Here’s what we’re doing.”

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M. L. Elrick running for City Council after leaving Detroit Free Press

Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter M.L. Elrick, who spent nearly three decades exposing misdeeds, dirty politicians, and wasteful spending in Detroit, is running for a seat on the Detroit City Council. Elrick announced his bid for council on his podcast ML Soul of Detroit on Tuesday afternoon.

M. L. Elrick running for City Council after leaving Detroit Free Press

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Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter M.L. Elrick, who spent nearly three decades exposing misdeeds, dirty politicians, and wasteful spending in Detroit, is running for a seat on the Detroit City Council.

Elrick announced his bid for council on his podcast ML Soul of Detroit on Tuesday afternoon.

“For 28 years now I’ve been a reporter trying to hold public officials accountable, and I’ve been kind of a lone gunman,” Elrick said. “I moved back to Detroit more than 20 years ago because I wanted to be a part of its comeback. It was important for me to be here for family and to help the city I’ve always loved.”

Elrick’s storied career at The Detroit Free Press ended this week after he accepted a buyout. In 2009, Elrick and his coworker Jim Schaefer won a Pulitzer Prize in local reporting for uncovering wrongdoing by then-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Their work triggered a criminal investigation and jail time for Kilpatrick.

Elrick also was an investigative reporter with WDIV-TV Channel 4 and WJBK-TV Fox 2.

Elrick is running for the District 4 council seat held by Andre Spivey, who isn’t expected to run for another term. Metro Times couldn’t reach Spivey for comment.

Since 1999, Elrick has lived in East English Village, where he serves on the neighborhood association’s board and is a frequent volunteer. He coached baseball and soccer at Balduck Park in the 4th District and helps with a charity fundraiser for the Clark Park Coalition, which provides recreation and educational programs for young people.

In high school, Elrick worked at a paint shop on East Warren Avenue in the 4th District.

“As a reporter, I’ve done so many stories about city government, exposed what’s wrong, talked about what could be better, and at some point, you say ‘I’ve done as much in this role as I can to make things better,’” Elrick said. “As a reporter you know a lot and you see a lot. It’s not quite the same thing as having a seat at the table. It’s definitely not the same thing as having a vote. But in terms of having the ability to expose wrongdoing, call for reform and make things better, not only can I continue to do that, but if I get elected, I’ll have a vote, and that’s a pretty powerful thing.”

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Journalist M.L. Elrick to run for Detroit City Council

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist M.L. Elrick plans to run for Detroit City Council after leaving the Detroit Free Press.

Journalist M.L. Elrick to run for Detroit City Council

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Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist M.L. Elrick plans to run for Detroit City Council after leaving the Detroit Free Press.

Elrick has filed paperwork to create a candidate committee for the 2021 election. He said he accepted a buyout from the newspaper.

He and Jim Schaefer won a Pulitzer Prize at the Free Press for exposing scandals involving Kwame Kilpatrick, who resigned as Detroit mayor in 2008. Besides working at the newspaper, Elrick has been a reporter at metro Detroit TV stations.

“I think people know what I can do,” Elrick said Tuesday. “They’ve seen me for the last 20 years trying to get to the bottom of things, trying to make sure that government works, calling out people who are cheating us, people who are stealing, who are putting self-service before public service. That’s not going to change.”

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Paid for by Michael Louis Elrick for Detroit

Investigative reporter M.L. Elrick is running for Detroit City Council seat

Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter M.L. Elrick, who spent nearly three decades exposing misdeeds, dirty politicians, and wasteful spending in Detroit, is running for a seat on the Detroit City Council.

Investigative reporter M.L. Elrick is running for Detroit City Council seat

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Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter M.L. Elrick, who spent nearly three decades exposing misdeeds, dirty politicians, and wasteful spending in Detroit, is running for a seat on the Detroit City Council.

Elrick announced his bid for council on his podcast ML Soul of Detroit on Tuesday afternoon.

“For 28 years now I’ve been a reporter trying to hold public officials accountable, and I’ve been kind of a lone gunman,” Elrick said. “I moved back to Detroit more than 20 years ago because I wanted to be a part of its comeback. It was important for me to be here for family and to help the city I’ve always loved.”

Elrick’s storied career at The Detroit Free Press ended this week after he accepted a buyout. In 2009, Elrick and his coworker Jim Schaefer won a Pulitzer Prize in local reporting for uncovering wrongdoing by then-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Their work triggered a criminal investigation and jail time for Kilpatrick.

Elrick also was an investigative reporter with WDIV-TV Channel 4 and WJBK-TV Fox 2.

Elrick is running for the District 4 council seat held by Andre Spivey, who isn’t expected to run for another term. Metro Times couldn’t reach Spivey for comment.

Since 1999, Elrick has lived in East English Village, where he serves on the neighborhood association’s board and is a frequent volunteer. He coached baseball and soccer at Balduck Park in the 4th District and helps with a charity fundraiser for the Clark Park Coalition, which provides recreation and educational programs for young people.

In high school, Elrick worked at a paint shop on East Warren Avenue in the 4th District.

“As a reporter, I’ve done so many stories about city government, exposed what’s wrong, talked about what could be better, and at some point, you say ‘I’ve done as much in this role as I can to make things better,’” Elrick said. “As a reporter you know a lot and you see a lot. It’s not quite the same thing as having a seat at the table. It’s definitely not the same thing as having a vote. But in terms of having the ability to expose wrongdoing, call for reform and make things better, not only can I continue to do that, but if I get elected, I’ll have a vote, and that’s a pretty powerful thing.”

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