Treated equally?


It's hard to trust Detroit politicians. With the constant scandal and history of falsehoods being told to the city's constituents, even the most honest and worthy candidate can get caught up in Detroit's bad image and labeled as no better than a certain ex-Mayor.

There's no doubt that Charles Pugh's current financial struggles are unfortunate. Or, even that he should be scrutinized for them. But before jumping to conclusions, pigeonholing him as another corrupt politician or (in the case of the Detroit Free Press) rescinding endorsements, the facts must be examined and everything must be put in context.

Last week, it was announced that Pugh's mortgage had gone unpaid and his home was up for foreclosure after the City Council candidate left both of his jobs as a reporter and anchor for Fox 2 Detroit to run for the political spot.

Immediately, the bashing began.

Pugh was called a liar and was judged as unfit to run the City Council - a position which he was in the lead for by 10,000 votes in the August primaries.

Pugh argues that he doesn't think the foreclosure will hurt his run for city council (although there's no word on his spot as president). He says that the common Detroiter will sympathize with him, not attack him.

We at Between The Lines, while not formally endorsing a full city council ballot for Detroit or other races, support Charles Pugh. Still.

The Free Press claims that Pugh was dishonest during his endorsement interview, telling them that his finances were stable when, in fact, he was already in financial trouble. But logically, if he thought he could solve the problem on his own, why would he create a fuss about it - to one of the largest papers in the state, no less?

Moreover, many are treating Pugh as if his situation is unique. Councilman Kwame Kenyatta previously lost a home he owned after defaulting on his mortgage, and a rental property in the city owned by Councilwoman Alberta Tinsley-Talabi was scheduled to be auctioned before she made a last minute payment. In addition, Saunteel Jenkins, who came in the top nine in the August primary, told The Detroit News that like Pugh she, too, had to default on the mortgage of her condo in order to restructure payments.

The difference in Pugh's case is that he was forced to give up any source of income in order to run for City Council, and as a result, the mortgage company refused to work with him.

His lost salary? $240,000 a year. That alone is reason to see that his commitment to Detroit is unwavering. What other candidate can say that they were willing to take such a huge pay cut to work to better the city they love?

For the Free Press to compare Pugh's incomplete disclosure about his financial situation to the scandal and lies of past Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is sloppy. In fact, in a contradictory move, the paper endorsed the re-election of Mayor Dave Bing, who lied about his college education. They should be the first to admit that not all lies should be treated equally.

We believe that Pugh still has some explaining to do if he wants to retain his lead and earn his seat - and he has only a few days left to do so. There are still unanswered questions, but the community owes it to him to listen to why he still deserves their support. We haven't given up on Charles Pugh as the great leader he seems poised to be for the city of Detroit, and we urge you to hold on, too.

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