Former New York Governor Elliott Spitzer did it, Former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner is trying to do it, Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford almost did it and former Portland Mayor Sam Adams served out his term despite admitting to a relationship with a teenage boy. So what should Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh do to save a reputation he has worked so hard to build, first as a journalist, then as a rising leader in Detroit? He should:
- Stop avoiding the media and start talking. Either set the record straight or face up to the mistakes made. We all have issues, some worse than others and some more public. Some people will be forgiving. Others will not. However, elected officials have a responsibility to be accountable to the people who elected them. So seek us out, rather than hide.
- Get in front of the issue. The more you let it linger and the more you let others talk for you, the harder it will be to recover your reputation.
- Apologize. Admit what you did or did not do and set the record straight.
- Create political goodwill. After you apologize work hard on finding positive solutions that will help you move forward and the rest of the city to move on to other more important issues.
- Stay visible and take positive steps to gaining your reputation back. Admit what you did (if you did it) and take positive steps to rehabilitate yourself and move on.
Unfortunately, in politics and in government, scandals happen. People love power and sometimes the perks of elected office gets the most of us. It is no excuse, and unfortuantely it is not uncommon. In fact, earlier this month, the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic was forced to resign over a spying issue. The Mayor of Toronto was recently pegged for a drug addiction he did or did not have and the Mayor of Montreal resigned over a bribery scandal, the Mayor of a Montreal suburb resigned over issues with a prostitute. A government minister in Italy resigned over tax issues, while a Governor of a Mexican state was just arrested for embezzlement -- And all of this in just one month.
So what is another scandal involving the President of the Detroit City Council. There is no doubt, this city has seen its fair share of drama, that we have been the front and center of national talk shows for it, but we are not alone. And those involved, should take steps to face the music, stand before the public, admit what did or did not happen and help us all move on.