Enjoy a Friday LinkSwarm:
Posts Tagged ‘John Wiley Price’
Here’s a small virtual buckets for a few pieces that I didn’t catch earlier:
I meant to post on the defeat of Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos in the Republican Primary. This was not an issue of ideology so much as incompetence and abuse of office. For the full details, check out Dwight’s pieces on Whipped Cream Difficulties and keep scrolling. (Or do the same at the Life at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center blog, which has been following the Lykos story for a long time.)
Now a few more John Wiley Price tidbits:
In 2002, when I asked Nealy what she did with all the money sluiced into her account by the Citizens Council candidate, she called me a racist.
It’s strangely heartening to learn that black political functionaries are just as eager to play the race card on their fellow liberals as they are on conservatives.
I want to point out that black southern Dallas has consistently voted against honesty, against progress, against inter-ethnic neighborhood cooperation and against any kind of civic responsibility in citywide elections.
But we are told nevertheless — we are beaten about the ears, in fact — that it’s everybody else’s job to clean up and bring prosperity to the black precincts.
After decades of watching this dismal scam operate, you may have to forgive me if I have become a bit jaded. I look at the editorial campaign of The Dallas Morning News, 10 holes in the bucket or something, about all the stuff it’s my job to clean up in South Dallas, and I can’t help wondering if this isn’t part of the same old sleazy political deal.
You know what? I’m starting to wonder if maybe it isn’t time for southern Dallas to clean up its own crap and leave me the hell alone.
Mr. Schutze and I might differ over our respective definitions of “progress,” but I suspect the rest is accurate.
Maybe it’s time for the rest of Dallas to start consciously and deliberately voting against southern Dallas, as long as southern Dallas continues to support the Price/Nealy machine. How the hell can we be expected to fix all the holes in southern Dallas’ damn bucket if we don’t fix the holes in our own first?
Moving from the specifics of the Price case to the issue of urban black machine politics in general, a few politically incorrect questions:
- How pervasive is this type of black political machine corruption in other cities with significant black populations?
- To what extent has black America’s overwhelming allegiance to the Democratic Party created such corruption, since it prevents the sort of inter-party competition that could sweep the corrupt from office?
- To what extent has the Democratic Party’s need for black votes encouraged such corruption, by making them turn a blind eye to it as long as they votes keep rolling in?
- Fair or not, the impression I get from the Price case, from the decades-long mismanagement of Detroit, etc., is that a significant portion (and perhaps a majority) of the urban black community is just fine with pervasive political corruption, as long as it’s black politicians that are the ones with their fingers in the pie. Is this impression correct, or is it too cynical even for me?
Sometimes you know there’s a big, juicy story swimming just under the threshold of public consciousness, but don’t have the tools, sources or knowledge to bring it to the surface. Such is the case with the FBI’s ongoing investigation of Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, a powerful, long-serving fixture in the Dallas black political power structure. Right now the story involves current Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and money that may have improperly made it’s way from Rawlings’ campaign chest to Price’s pocket via political consultant Kathy Nealy. The FBI raided Price’s office last year.
The lefty Dallas Observer is more blunt in what the FBI is alleging: “The affidavit claims a pay-for-play scheme existed in which businesses would pay handsome consulting fees to Nealy’s company at about the time they were seeking to win a contract with Dallas County. A portion of that money would be funneled to Price, who would steer the favored contractor through the Commissioner’s Court.”
Not living in Dallas, the first time I ran across John Wiley Price’s name was in connection to the previous mayor of Dallas, then-aspiring Senate candidate Tom Leppert. Leppert and Price seem to have cooperated in killing Richard Allen’s Inland Port project, Leppert allegedly because it competed with a similar project by backer Ross Perot, Price allegedly because Allen wouldn’t pay Price and his cronies $1 million in shakedown money. I should hasten to add that Price, who has been a fixture on the Dallas political scene long before Leppert even moved there, is to the best of my knowledge not one of Leppert’s cronies, or even particularly close to him. However, Willis Johnson, who was allegedly part of the shakedown effort, is one of Leppert’s cronies, and was (along with the late Lynn Flint Shaw) one of Leppert’s conduits into the Dallas black community.
Price has an, ahem, interesting history. He was arrested for felony assault charges, of which he was acquitted just after the Rodney King riots. And his protege Aaron McCarthy is a member of the New Black Panther Party.
But if Price committed the crimes alleged in the FBI affidavit, the question is: How deep does the corruption go? How many other Dallas political players were paying off Price, and in exchange for what? Price has been in office a long, long time. It’s quite possible he has enough skeletons in his closet to make it an ossuary.
I don’t have the answers, and I don’t even have the knowledge or connections to properly dig for those answers. But I suspect we’re going to find out in the near future anyway…
I must admit that I have not kept up with the doings of the New Black Panther Party. I knew of the Philadelphia voter intimidation case, and involvement in the various corrupt practices the likes of ACORN and their ilk get up to (voter fraud, etc.). And it doesn’t surprise me that the New Black Panther Party might be pretty weird, since the original Black Panthers were quite weird themselves. (Search for “Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, bullwhip”…but not while at work or eating.)
But I didn’t realize just how weird until I read this Jim Schutze piece. (Schutze was the source for this critical look at Tom Leppert’s term as mayor of Dallas.) It turns out that Dallas City Council member John Wiley Price has a protege named Aaron McCarthy (aka Aaron Michael) that Price wanted placed on the “homeland security advisory committee” (“whatever the hell that’s supposed to be” says Schutze). And it turns out that Aaron McCarthy is a member of the New Black Panther Party.
And what is it the NBPP believes? Well, hold on to your hats for this quote from NBPP leader Khalid Abdul Muhammad, speaking at a protest in Baltimore, Maryland, February 19, 1994: “Our lessons talk about the bloodsuckers of the poor. … It’s that old no-good Jew, that old imposter Jew, that old hooked-nose, bagel-eating, lox-eating, Johnny-come-lately, perpetrating-a-fraud, just-crawled-out-of-the-caves-and-hills-of-Europe, so-called damn Jew.”
Wow. Even by the very low standards of Black Nationalist rhetoric, that’s a pretty breathtaking does of Julius Streicher by way of H. Rap Brown antisemitism. If I put that in some of my fiction, an editor would reject it as being an unbelievable caricature. Hell, I think Al Sharpton would send that back to his speechwriter as being beneath even his standards of subtlety and tact.
But wait! There’s more where that came from! Take a look at this fine, grade-A rant from King Samir Shabazz, head of the NBBP Philadelphia chapter:
I hate white people. All of them. Every last iota of a cracker, I hate it. We didn’t come out here to play today. There’s too much serious business going on in the black community to be out here sliding through South Street with white, dirty, cracker whore bitches on our arms, and we call ourselves black men. … What the hell is wrong with you black man? You at a doomsday with a white girl on your damn arm. We keep begging white people for freedom! No wonder we not free! Your enemy cannot make you free, fool! You want freedom? You going to have to kill some crackers! You going to have to kill some of their babies!
You might think these are just some made-up quotes from a random weekly alternative newspaper. (And I would agree that anything that appears in The Dallas Observer should be taken with a grain of salt unless verified elsewhere.) But no, those quotes are directly from the leftist-friendly and conservative-hostile Southern Poverty Law Center, and you can be pretty sure they’re not just whistling Dixie.
While these are particularly virulent quotes, how many times has the media just decided to ignore the latest racist or antisemitic rants from the black community? (Here’s one from today of a black radio host refusing to shake the hands of a black GOP candidate because he doesn’t want her “whiteness” to rub off on him.) How many times has the MSM passed on reporting on corruption and cronyism in the black political community out of political correctness, or because black America is such a reliable vote farm for the Democratic Party?
It doesn’t fit the narrative.
Before I interviewed Tom Leppert, I wanted to research several controversies that came up during his term as Mayor of Dallas. Unfortunately, because of The Dallas Morning News paywall (and, as you can read below, possible DMN involvement in some of those controversies), information about them was hard to come by.
Lacking a good Dallas political connection to pump for information, I ended up reaching out to Jim Schutze, one of the writers for the Dallas Observer‘s Unfair Park section on local Dallas politics. Schutze had
foolishly generously offered to dish the dirt on Leppert’s term as mayor, and when I called him up I was evidently the first person who had taken him up on the offer. I ended up talking to Schutze on the phone for over an hour.
I’ve edited the notes from that phone call into the semi-coherent form found below, and the material in block-quotes represents the gist of what I was able to transcribe from Schutze’s description (I can only type so fast, so word-by-word transcription of a one-hour phone call in real time is quite beyond me). I’ve also included some links to columns where he covers some of the issues we discussed.
I should point out that neither The Observer (which is the Dallas equivalent of The Austin Chronicle, but not as sad) nor Schutze could be considered conservative (though Schutze says that a quarter-century of observing local politics firsthand has “beaten the bleeding liberal” out of him). As such, everything said below should be taken with a grain (or several grains) of salt, and adjusted as needed for bias. However, while Schutze’s version of events should not be treated as gospel, all of the below seem to be real controversies that occurred during Leppert’s term as mayor, and I believe all should be looked at and investigated more thoroughly than they have been heretofore.
I conducted the interview with Leppert on September 19, and I really meant to have all this up considerably earlier, ideally just a week or two after that interview, but events intervened. I’ve been both busy (including a new job) and lazy, and this material needed considerable editing, which meant it got put on the back-burner while I grappled with the endless press of current events.
Trinity Toll Road Controversy
Angela Hunt (East Dallas progressive City Council member) put up a referendum on wonk infrastructure issues. Leppert mischaracterized it as an attempt to kill the toll road, but it was really a debate over where to put it: outside the flood plain or (as Leppert wanted) inside the flood plain. The 1998 election to authorize the bonds for the original project didn’t say “highway,” it said “park road” on top of the levee, not a highway. When it became a freeway, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said you couldn’t build one on the levees, because it was unstable and too big a risk. Plan B was to build the highway between the levees. None of the numbers for this road work, because the road is way too expensive for the amount of traffic to be carried.
Angela Hunt referendum said the road would flood, and the plan would diminish the carrying capacity of the floodway and increase flood risk. Five rightaways were under consideration, only one in the flood plain. A levee collapse would be worse than Katrina.
In 2007, Leppert was anointed by the business leadership to defeat the Hunt referendum as Job One. Leppert could sell any board of directors on anything. He was a developer in Hawaii. He was the one who moved to Dallas, Turner Construction didn’t. He wasn’t CEO for long, and I [Schutze] don’t know why he left.
Carol Reed (of a consulting company now called The Reeds) lead the campaign to defeat the referendum. Leppert said the Corps of Engineers had signed off. But the Corps said: “We haven’t signed off on anything.” The North Texas Toll Road Authority told reporter Michael Lindberger they hadn’t signed off on the money. The Dallas Morning News sat on the story; the owners are landholding families in favor of the road.
The referendum was narrowly defeated, meaning the road stayed between the levees.
The estimated $400 million turned out to be $1.4 billion (2007), $1 billion over budget, now over $2 billion. (Leppert’s dodge: “I am very comfortable with their [the Corps'] position.”)
Leppert said there were fewer issues with a toll road than there actually were, and promised numerous recreational facilities would be built as well. Angela Hunt said that “Leppert’s not a liar, he’s a salesman, and he believes his pitch.”
After Katrina, the Corps of Engineers reexamined levees and said they were useless even in a hundred year flood.
Urban Crime statistics have been dropping nationally. When Leppert came into office in 2007, Dallas had the highest crime overall per capita for cities of over a million people. Leppert vowed to change that. Leppert called in Police Chief David Kunkle (a tough, respected chief) and said he wanted the crime numbers down. DPD changed the way it reported crime statistics to the FBI for the Uniform Crime Statistics. Dallas Morning News did a terrific series of investigative news on the process. For burglary, an incident would no longer be counted unless something was stolen. Most other cities disagreed with the Dallas redefinition and called it a “Lawyering of the language.” As soon as they put in the new guidelines, crime rates dropped, and Dallas was no longer number one.
Another Leppert crime controversy was the creation of SAFE (Support Abatement Forfeiture and Enforcement) teams: A team of cops, code inspectors, health department inspectors, etc. would “wallpaper” cheap apartment complexes with code violations in order to seize properties. The Property Owners Association got involved, since property rights were being trampled, and in some cases apartment buildings were turned over to connected city council friends.
The City-Funded Hotel
Built by the city, owned by the city, funded by bonds, unless there’s enough revenue. Trammel Crow was against it and said the Dallas hotel market was flooded. Leppert pushed it forward anyway.
Lynn Flint Shaw and Willis Johnson
What role did Lynn Flint Shaw and Willis Johnson play in Leppert’s campaign and administration? And what role did they having in steering/approving minority business contracts with City Hall and/or DART?
Shaw was a black woman who was well liked by sophisticated white arts people, a liaison between rich white Republicans and poor blacks. That vote has been important in pushing big Business Establishment initiatives (sports stadiums, etc.). Shaw was chair of Leppert’s fundraising committee.
As soon as he was elected, she sent an email to all business contacts to go through Willis Johnson (then a radio DJ). The email said that all requests for minority contracts with the city should go through Shaw, Johnson and a small cabal of black leaders who called themselves the “Inner Circle.” Willis Johnson is at the center of an FBI investigation as a major minority contractor and lobbyist. He had a regular weekly meeting with Leppert when he was mayor.
Shaw had no official roll in City Hall, and an unpaid role at DART.
Rufus and Lynn Flint Shaw’s Murder/Suicide
Lynn Flint Shaw and her husband, columnist Rufus Shaw, were found dead of an apparent murder/suicide on March 8, 2008.
Shaw was about to be indicted on a fraud charge that had nothing to do with politics, on a debt/signature forging issue. Circumstances of her death are mysterious. She had started to run for the council, then lived on the campaign funds, and made up phony expenses. Police determined there was nothing there to investigate. She was still Leppert’s campaign chair at the time of her death.
The Inland Port
Richard Allen in California buys up 5,000 acres, says he’ll create an “inland port,” a transshipping hub in south Dallas that will create 65,000 jobs. This would compete with a Ross Perot initiative in Ft. Worth. (Perot was a big Leppert backer; Leppert had his mayoral victory party at Ross Perot, Jr.’s pad). Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, longest tenured and most powerful among Dallas’ black politicians, stopped the project. He said there needed to be more planning, and Leppert backed him up. Allen had been planning for six years. Price sent cronies (the SALT group), including Willis Johnson, demanding $1 million to be paid to them, and 15% cut of profits. It was a classic shakedown. Allen refused, they blocked the project, and now Allen is in bankruptcy. (Note: The FBI raided the offices of John Wiley Price on June 27, 2011.)
Despite all the foregoing, Schutze wasn’t universally negative on Leppert. He said Leppert’s friends thought he was a good guy, more of a chamber of commerce guy than a politician, and would would probably be naturally somewhat shy and retiring if he weren’t in politics.
As soon as this goes up, I’ll send a query to the Leppert campaign to let them respond, and I’ll post their reply (if any) unedited here.