It began as a great week for Detroit city councilman George Cushingberry Jr.
The new charter for the city of 700,000, which last month became the largest in the U.S. to enter into bankruptcy, gives the council authority to elect its president and pro tem — as opposed to the previous method in which the positions went to the two highest vote getters in the general election.
And Cushingberry got the pro tem nod from his fellow council members on Monday, making him the second-most powerful member of the body.
But a Detroit News editorial wasn’t nodding; it blasted the council, along with Cushingberry, calling him a “worse choice” and an “old-school political operative” who represents “the status quo in Detroit politics” and won’t likely “support positive change or reform.”
Cushingberry’s reps didn’t take the criticism lying down, posting a fiery response to the Tuesday editorial right in the comments section:
“Dear Detroit News, Go to hell. Go straight to hell. Do not pass go and don’t even think about collecting $200. Jones and Cush will lead the Push for an even Greater Detroit. #WeLoveDetroit”
As you might imagine, some readers weren’t happy with the choice of words:
“I don’t allow the language Councilman George Cushingberry used…in my house, would never say that to another human being, and expect more dignity than you showed from my government,” wrote Kevin Lucey of Detroit. “I am embarrassed yet again by my city’s council.”
But things would only get worse for Cushingberry.
Police found marijuana, open alcohol, and detected a strong odor of marijuana in Cushingberry’s vehicle during a routine traffic stop Tuesday night, according to WDIV-TV in Detroit.
Sources told WDIV that Cushingberry was leaving a strip club when he was pulled over, a charge the new council pro tem denied: “I was not coming out of any strip club,” he told WDIV. “I was coming out of the Penthouse Lounge, which is one of the places I’ve campaigned in all year.”
A post on Cushingberry’s Facebook page presumably commenting on this allegation puts it this way: “We never saw a t*t. Fox news is full of ___t.”
WDIV added that police said Cushingberry almost hit a squad car when he was leaving the strip club, leading the officer to pull him over.
Sources told WJBK-TV in Detroit that Cushingberry tried to flee police and then flashed his city council badge; he specifically denied the first allegation to WJBK: “Why would a city councilman try to run away from a cop?”
Cushingberry refused to get out of his vehicle, WDIV said, adding that the officer suspected he had been drinking and driving, smelling alcohol and finding marijuana.
His explanation to WJBK regarding the marijuana: “There was another man in the car with me by the name of Richard Clement, who is a Michigan medical marijuana patient,” Cushingberry said. “He had marijuana on his person. That’s what the cops smelled. He told them up front that he was a medical marijuana patient.”
TheBlaze contacted Clement by phone Friday, and the Detroit-based computer tech confirmed that he’s the same Richard Clement whom Cushingberry said was with him during the traffic stop and who is depicted in the above photo. He also told TheBlaze that Cushingberry’s explanation to news outlets accurately explains what happened at the stop.
“It’s an unfortunate incident,” Clement told TheBlaze, adding that Detroit has an “excellent department” and “rookie officers got a little overzealous.”
As for the open bottle, Cushingberry told WJBK: “There was an empty bottle that was in the back of my car but it was an old bottle. And, so, when the supervisor came, he said, ‘There’s no open alcohol; there’s nothing in this.'”
A Detroit police patrol supervisor was called to the scene, WDIV noted, adding that the supervisor allowed Cushingberry to drive away after being ticketed for not signaling.
“A supervisor was contacted who responded to the scene. A decision was made that the council person would be cited and released. That did happen, there was no arrest,” Detroit Police Chief James Craig confirmed to WJBK, adding that the supervisor’s actions are now the focus of an internal investigation.
After the news broke Thursday night, a question was posted on Facebook asking Cushingberry about the allegations and wondering how it all might “play out.” Cushingberry’s Facebook account responded: “My assistant likes pot.. a lot”
Further down the thread a comment from Cushingberry’s account reads: “We love and respect the men and women of the Detrot (sic) Police..”
The Detroit City Council could deem Cushingberry no longer fit as president pro tem, WJBK reported, and vote to remove him from the position. Emergency manager Kevyn Orr also could strip Cushingberry of his pay and revoke his power as a council member.