25 March 2008

Who Is Kym Worthy?

High profile court cases tend to destroy existing celebrities while creating new ones. The seminal example, of course, is the O.J. Simpson trial, where even the not guilty verdict resulted in destroying the defendant's image and mercifully ending his acting career. At the same time Johnnie Cochran and Kato Kaitlin became household names.

I expect the upcoming trial of Kwame Kilpatrick to follow the same model. The mayor had been a rising star in the Democratic Party and a voice of hope for both the city of Detroit and the state. But his image has been tarnished by the scandals of his administration, and that existing tarnish will be nothing compared to what will happen once the national media has the mayor and the city under a microscope. Detroit is already treated like the stinky uncle who likes to scratch his crotch during church. Once this trial starts, even the mayor's staunches supporters may stagger under the abuse the city will take from the rest of the country. And don't expect things to improve if the major networks decide to trot out the likes of Monica Conyers and Sharon McPhail as representatives of the city.

But there is hope. There are prominent Detroit leaders who have the ability and strength to step forward and restore the city's pride and image. One is Detroit City Council President Kenneth Cockrel Jr. We've been watching another for the past couple of days: Kym Worthy.

Soon the nation will be asking, "Who is Kym Worthy?" Who is this woman who stood calmly at the podium and professionally delivered the first felony indictments on a Detroit mayor since . . . since Fred was courting Wilma? Who is this prosecutor who handles interviews as deftly as God handled Old Testament blasphemers? Like every bio, hers could be condensed to bullet points
  • She is a graduate of the University of Michigan (Go Blue) with a law degree from Notre Dame.
  • She is an experienced litigator
  • She has been a judge
  • She is a controversial prosecutor.
  • She is a mother
  • She is a community activist

But when she is center stage people won't see the bullet points. People will see a strong woman with a clear message. People will see somebody who is calm under pressure. People will see intelligence melded with insight. People will see Detroit.

She will not prosecute the case in the courtroom, but I have a feeling that Kym Worthy is about to become a star and Detroit's image will be the better for it.