Watch Carefully as The Dallas Morning News Tippy-Toes Away from John Wiley Price

Categories: Get Off My Lawn

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If you are a regular reader of The Dallas Morning News, Dallas's only daily newspaper since 1991, and if you are following the federal corruption investigation of John Wiley Price, the county's most powerful black politician, then from here on out you need to put on your magnifying specs and read the fine print. The News has already started trying to write itself out of this story, an effort that will only get more obvious as this business unfolds.

Why is The News in it? Oh, you have not been keeping up, have you? Tsk-tsk. I thought I told you there would be an exam later on Jim Schutze columns.

If all you remember is Price as the firebrand protester who slow-walked with his "Warrriors" across the front of The News' property 20 years ago, then you may be in for a very bad grade. Since then The News has transmogrified into Price's principal aider, abettor, hagiographer and co-conspirator.

They love this guy.

It was only last April 17 that News reporter Scott Parks, normally a fine journalist, penned a kiss-ass portrait of Price, drooling over his collections of classic cars and weird Barbie Dolls, in which Parks offered this reportorial rebuff to Price's critics: "What most people don't see," Parks wrote, "is his day-to-day dedication to improving county government."

Ah, yes. That and ... how many cars are there again?

johnwileypriceportrait.jpg
Photos by Mark Graham
Now Price is the subject of an FBI investigation. That doesn't make him guilty of anything. But it sure has The News crab-walking away and covering its own traces.

The News has embraced Price warmly in recent years, working aggressively and shoulder-to-shoulder with him in what history will certainly deem to be Price's greatest betrayal of his own people, whether he ever gets indicted for it or not -- the Inland Port deal.

In 2005, Price led an effort to stymie development of a massive rail and shipping development called the Inland Port in the black part of the city. The Inland Port promised more than 60,000 well-paid jobs with benefits in an area of the city that has had a Third World economy since Reconstruction.

The main developer, Richard Allen, had just completed five years of land purchases, planning and permission-seeking from Dallas and other communities involved and was ready to start selling and leasing land. But Price decreed that the whole thing needed to be put on hold. He said lots more planning was needed before Allen would be ready for prime time.

This was just after Allen had shot down an attempt by four of Price's allies to get Allen to give them $1.5 million and a 15 percent cut of his family-owned company in exchange for their help making sure he didn't have any political problems with southern Dallas politicians.

In a story in Wednesday's Morning News, reporter Gromer Jeffers seeks to perpetuate two untruths about this transaction. We might call one of them a known untruth, in Rumsfeld-speak, and the second is more of a known unknown. But Jeffers knows better on both.

Of the demand that Price's allies made for a 15 percent stake in Allen's company, Jeffers writes, "The trio also wanted an opportunity to purchase 15 percent ownership in the development."

But both Allen and Price himself told me at the time that there was never any "purchase" contemplated in this picture. Allen told me when the group asked for an equity stake in the company, he told them everything he had out there on the ground was for sale. All they needed to do was give him an offer.

What he got was silence from them and more pressure from Price, who started doing everything he could to screw up a crucial road and bridge project Allen needed done on Wintergreen Road in Hutchins.

I discussed this with Price at the time. I asked why, if the group wanted equity, they didn't come up with some money for it. He told me that what they offered in exchange for equity was not money but "intellectual capital."

That would be the part about helping make sure Allen didn't get no windows broke, speaking in strictly political terms of course. That's "intellectual capital."

The other little tippy-toe dance-around in Jeffers's story involves an attempt to include state Sen. Royce West, in whose district the project was being developed, in the gravy train. In today's story, Jeffers reports as fact that it was the leader of the group, Pettis Norman, a Dallas Cowboy 100 years ago, who told Senator West it would be naughty for him to be a member for the group.

It would have been naughty for sure. West had major direct legislative say-so over important public funding for the project. The proposal was that West should be a hired consultant for Allen, helping make sure Allen didn't have any problems with people who had major direct legislative say-so over him (wink-wink).

In his report, Jeffers writes: "West was originally tapped to be the fourth member of the consulting group, which they called SALT, but Norman shot down the idea."

Yeah, that's what Norman says.

But as I reported at the time, Allen said different. Way different. He said he was the one who told Norman it would be screwed-up and shady for him to hire West, because West had major direct legislative say-so over him.

The guy really pushing all of this on Allen was southern Dallas radio personality Willis Johnson, now a contractor with DART, the city and the school district. Johnson also is the main southern Dallas political consultant to our recently elected mayor, Mike Rawlings.

Allen told me he told Johnson that hiring West was out of the question because of the obvious ethical pitfalls. He said Johnson came back at him several times. Allen quoted Johnson as telling him, "It's already been cleared with the ethics commission in Austin."

That would be the Texas State Ethics Commission -- an entity that any heads-up businessman would understand was an oxymoron at its birth and might as well be called the "Official State of Texas Cover-up and Alibi Commission for Way-Shady Sleazy Deals."

Allen told me: "I said, 'Well, I don't care if it's been cleared or not. It makes absolutely no sense. He needs to be able to represent his constituents.'"

In other words: fuggetaboutit.

But Allen says Johnson came back again, this time with the whole group on a speakerphone. "They were in a panic to get hold of me. And they were on speakerphone. They didn't tell me at the time that Royce was there, but I suspected that he was, just because they're asking me the same questions all over again, [as in], 'Now help me understand why.'"

He says later that Norman admitted to him that West had been present for that call. Norman told me that Allen was lying and that he had never said that.

But, look. You don't just report as fact that, 1) The Willis Johnson group wanted to pay for the equity they demanded, and 2) It was the high ethical standards of the Willis Johnson group that kept the greedy senator at bay. We know the first is not true. We know the second is staunchly disputed.

In a story about all this published in the News on April 12, 2009, Jeffers and county reporter Kevin Krause summed up the whole problem as a misunderstanding caused by Allen's own racial insensitivity: "Allen, who is white, appeared blind to the county's complicated racial politics," they reported as fact.

In an editorial four days later, the News wagged its finger at Allen for trying to rip off southern Dallas: "Going forward, white-dominated companies must keep foremost in mind the unique history of southern Dallas. It is not simply a great business opportunity to be exploited for maximum profit."

As I reported at the time, Allen's record for minority participation on his jobs far outstripped anything done by local Dallas companies. On the Wintergreen Bridge project, for example, Allen's minority participation was 55 percent. The prominent local company on that job championed by Commissioner Price had a minority participation of 4.9 percent.

Allen provided Price with a list of minority elected officials in areas all over the nation where he had done business and asked Price to contact them and inquire about his racial sensitivity. As far as Allen could tell, nobody ever called any of them.

Part of the wild hypocrisy in all this is the News' Pulitzer Prize winning series of editorials calling for a clean-up, spruce-up campaign in black southern Dallas devoted mainly to litter and code enforcement. Too bad their daily newspaper cronies on the Pulitzer committee never bothered to check out their record on the Inland Port.

But here's the point now. The News has been pushing and promoting Price and his agenda for years. We can talk about why later. It will all come out. Basically, Price, who is very smart, has figured out the formula. There is no Dallas or Dallas County. There is no Fort Worth or Tarrant County. Those are meaningless abstractions.

In the world of power and money in North Texas there are only families -- five or six. Price picked a couple to work for.

From here on out, if you read the News closely, you are going to see them doing with Price exactly what they are also trying to do with their other great passion, the proposed Trinity River Toll Road. They're going to be busy getting their story right by getting it wrong.

Don't forget. There will be a quiz in heaven.


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205 comments
lawsuth
lawsuth

Thanks! I'd especially appreciated the statistic of minority hires showing Price's impassioned assertions at a mere 4.9%!

Debbie Stansell
Debbie Stansell

Thank you so much for telling like i see it ,Gone on for 2 long

peggy1974
peggy1974

Remember truth tellers get bashed....and you will. I say good job!

Blevy
Blevy

Lots of nervousness at the DMN and throughout the the power structure.

Jcgreen59
Jcgreen59

This is the only paper in Dallas, and they along with the Dallas Blog are sure to print propaganda to mislead whites about JWP. Frivolous reports have already surfaced that are based on propaganda. Its sad in Dallas that Dickey, and Foster can mislead the FBI and then brag about it openly. Basically lynch a man publicly and bragg about it. 

coolonion
coolonion

As you predicted, they're walking away even as we speak.  Check out Sharon Grigsby's recent blog post, "Setting the record straight on the inland port" in which she cites this blog:

http://dallasmorningviewsblog....

She says, "If you read our entire editorial, it's clear we were critical of both business owners and politicians..."  lol!

Justice
Justice

Jim Shutze, This is NOT news. It's apparent that your opinioned editorials concerning JWP are personal.  When did journalist take on the role as judge, jury, and executioner?  You should only be presenting the FACTS, and I don't think at this point, the FBI has released ANY.  U.S. law says that a person is PRESUMED INNOCENT until proven guilty but YOU twist one of the MOST  important fabrics of this nation.  JWP has done alot for the AA community, standing up against adversity, in whatever role it exist will cause others to try to DESTROY progress, the FBI is known for keeping a watch on "powerful"  Black Men whom they fear will theaten the status quo of white power politics.  You also reference to "the race card" in several of your articles as if it doesn't exist, any person with common sense can see that racism is alive and well in this nation, the names have just changed to organizations like the TEA PARTY whose motto is "Let's Take Our County Back" from who? from what?  Why don't you report on real news.  Like how Texas is the state with the most Billionaires but we lead the country with the most children with no medical insurance. Or how governor Perry supports "states rights" and this right gave states the right to support slavery which lead to the Civil War. Or maybe you should write about public education and the lack of funding along with a bill that was recently passed in the Texas legislature to furlough teachers for 6 days without pay and slash their salaries.  This is the type of news that MATTERS, the kind that you should be PASSIONATE about, the sort that you should be writing about on a DAILY basis.  But I guess that type of news doesn't ignite your FIRE.

maria
maria

Good job clarifying, Jim. These things are often hard to follow and you do a great job always making such situations easy to understand for the lay person and I do appreciate that. However, can you explain why just due diligence isn't equally given to White politicians or corporate officials? I'm not necessarily referring to you alone. But I know, from work experiences in related areas, that elected department heads have had major contracts where their wife or friends were on the board of the company, and there are many intermingled relationships between elected officials and corporations on various boards, etc in the community. Or the Whites in power hire their buddies, etc. Is it me or are these not given as much attention and dramatization or do we just quietly let the White powerful guys get away with much the same that you suggest here on JWP? I'm not judging JWP's situation, rather what seems to be media and powerful players' selectivity on what is or is not ethical. Doesn't the good ol'boy white power system still run the show? And I am not giving JWP a pass cause I know everything is still under investigation. But I sure detect white institutional and systemic racism in general just from all the entities involved, whether it be the elected, business, community or media leaders, that is still the one in charge calling the shots. What do you think?

Catbird
Catbird

On the surface, this seems driven by someone who must have Eric Holder's private number at the Justice Department.

I'm thinking that a certain someone wants someone other than Price to have Price's job and taking him out through indictment, tral and maybe even prison seems like the best way to make it happen - and if they can take out a few rich republicans, then it all good.

If I was Price, I'd use mtDallas CountyAmex card to charter a jet to a tropical island that didn't have an extradition treaty with the US and live the lux life with my ill gotten gains...

Living well is the best revenge.     

Joey G. Dauben
Joey G. Dauben

What I fear most is Price's hand-picked (sans one Maurine Dickey) commissioners cartel foisting that Master Plan over the economic "miracle drug" in Southern Dallas County, you know the one, the Master Plan that was defeated on a 3-2 vote; Jim Foster being the tie-breaking vote against it.

Time4growth
Time4growth

A greased palm here, and a greased palm there.  These things go on all over the Earth. Oh, and well written piece i might add (:

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Let me get this right: Black ministers want to stage a protest about what, exactly? Are they playing the race card SO SOON----AGAIN? When was the last time they called a march in Dallas to protest the number of pregnant teens we have DISD, or the number of parents who regularly insult, threaten and otherwise mess with DISD teachers? When are they going to have a march to demand accountability from their own children of their community? When are they marching to curb the black dropout rate in Dallas, or the SHARP DECLINE in math scores on this year's TAKS tests in high schools? (Hint: As middle class blacks run for the suburbs like whites did 40 years ago, their numbers will dwindle as the scores decline--and exactly where is the protest of uplift going to be held?)

I have no doubt, dears, that Dallas has a strong racist current coursing through it, but you know what? That current runs both ways. Frankly, I am 50 years old, I am sick and tired of the race card being played EVERY SINGLE TIME. Get a new deck and play a new card!! We are no longer afraid of the race card, as it is the 21st century. What worked in 1977, does not work now. Again, get a new deck of cards, man, a new deck.

JWP is innocent until proven guilty. He has not even been called to court yet. Why not wait, ministers of God, until you have PROOF of something--or are you afraid YOUR names and YOUR churches just might show up on some witness list? Hmmm.

richard schumacher
richard schumacher

So what happened with that protest march thing?

'"The Rev. Horace Bradshaw of the New Greater Emanuel Baptist Church in Dallas has called for a march at the Dallas Federal Courthouse for 9 a.m. Saturday." He does know the courthouse is closed on Saturday, doesn't he? Does he plan to stand outside a closed building in 100 degree heat chanting, "no justice, no peace?" Sheeze, no wonder JWP keeps getting re-elected'

LivingToday
LivingToday

Can the FII look into the corruption at Parkland Hospital next.

iblobar
iblobar

dallas  morning news is a joke,,weisels and have no huevos, everyone know that!!! JWP  rocks!!!  Bully ?  well, well,,i guess a Stong Black Man is  unnerving to most eh????  TOUGH!!

holman
holman

The bad guys will try and blame the Inland Port deal going South on the commercial property collapse and the lock up in the credit markets.  Beginning in late 2008, market demand for it dried completely up.  I think that might work if the Feds also jumped the gun on their trap.  If something forced them to spring it before they had all the pieces in place.  Coming out of the box, badging and serving warrants is the last step.  The wire taps and flipped witnesses must already be in place and producing.

meweubuntu
meweubuntu

Ross Perot Jr. Hillwood Dev. received suboena. DMN

Borborygmus
Borborygmus

THE SCHUTZE LOVE-FESTThe man in the bathrobe, holding the gun,It’s our hero, Jim Schutze, (is this not fun?)Wielding his fierce pen in another attackOn JWP, “Where’s the popcorn? Sit back.”‘Tis true when the subject is bad snollygosters,Shakedowns, land flips or weird deed transfersNobody writes with such nimble speedAs Jim Schutze, our champion journalist, indeed.He’s shown us before where bodies are buried.Unfortunately not always agreed with – he’s parriedWith a Trinity project wrapped in political slime,Turning naysayers words against them with time.So it’s time for some credit where justly due,Acknowledgment of the rumors – it must be true -He’s really a softy, his heart belongs to Dallas,Our political narrator really does love us.

BradleyLLL
BradleyLLL

So, WFAA tv has scooped the DMN on DMN's front page article on the bondsmen of Dallas owing the county millions of dollars.  What's up with that?  I thought the DMN had "diversified" WFAA and that they were supposed to be separate news gathering institutions.

trannyntraining
trannyntraining

JWP and the Powers that bethings are going down in Dallasjust you wait and seethe heat is only rising as the summer rolls onit's time to cool off this corruptionand sing a different better song...Just you wait and see!

Pay the Price
Pay the Price

I've despised that snake Royce West since I met his sorry ass 10 years ago.  I really, really, really, I mean really hope he gets netted in this business and a nice cot in county.

RW1961
RW1961

Seems awfully strange timing for the kiss-up article to Perot Jr. in the DMN Sports section today. 

pencil
pencil

I know that political corruption is colorblind, but why do the negro machinations resemble the buffoonery from Haiti or other corrupt third world countries?

Handy
Handy

I have been following this story, and thanks Jim as always.  I have another question, maybe unrelated, but.....Why did Channel 8 News/Belo lead their 6:00pm news yesterday with a 10 minute story about a patient leaving Parkland Hospital and going missing for 13 hours?  Newsworthy, yes, but not as sexy as the most powerful politician in Dallas and under Federal Investigation.... What does Belo have against Parkland?  I may have missed the story...or way off base.

meweubuntu
meweubuntu

Know anything about JWP treasurer Zan Holmes, Fredrick Haynes & Pettis Norman's Gateway Economic Development?  Could it be the link to SALT... then from there Pettis Norman, Jon Edmonds, etc. for Dallas Together - 21 (big hitters listed with DT21)

Tad Banyon
Tad Banyon

As soon as John Wiley Punkass began all the delaying tactics, Allen should have gone to the FBI, offered to wear a wire, and started talking to Price about whether things might get rolling along again if he accepted the proposal after all. Of course, for all we know, maybe he did and maybe this is all a piece of that. Or maybe JWP pissed off the city godfathers and their FBI brass connections trumped those of Price's preachers. I like to imagine Price got to thinking he was a little too big for his breeches and had to be taught a lesson. So much potential intrigue, I can't wait to see not just how it ends, but how it began.

John Finley
John Finley

I was only a kid when Laura Miller's D Magazine article was published in 1991, and I remember the windshield wiper incident like it was yesterday. After reading Miller's article for the first time, I had no clue that Price has been doing this for years! On a side note, I grew up in Lancaster and I was hoping the new inland port would help revitalize Lancaster, Wilmer, Hutchins, and the rest of southern Dallas County. I remember when they were sleepy little towns, but I hardly think Lancaster " has had a Third World economy since Reconstruction." Along with the rest of southern Dallas County. However, I can agree that those towns hit skid row after the 1994 Tornado and the city officials screwed the town by making "overnight" changes to city codes. Anyway, JWP has been a boil on the butt of Dallas for years and he's the one that needs to be cleaned up.

Publicintegrity
Publicintegrity

Let's ask JWP's attorneys about the source of their retainer.  Cash? Money Order? Note secured by some Dallas County issued car titles?  Hopefully the FBI already knows and will seek the return of any fruits of criminal enterprises from the attorneys.  Not less than a 300k retainer, without question.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

By the way, we all know the Feds read these columns, because sometimes, just sometimes, a bit of useful info comes out.... So, Dallas FBI, we are BEGGING YOU, PLEASE, go after the ones with the largest pockets, not just the ones who receive the hand-outs. Go after the ones who BENEFIT in the millions from these sweetheart deals, the developers, the millionaires, not just the little guys with their thousands in "walking around money," And if ANY church interferes....IRS needs to look into that as well. It is time to CLEAN UP DALLAS.

Now, the next time we have an election, will we still see only a small number turn out? When will people wake up??? Next time Angela Hunt gets skewered by the Oligarchy, will you stand up for her?

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Oh, get off the "lynch"  word. This is not Mississippi in 1962. This is an investigation and a serving of warrants. Where is the harrassment? Where, what, whom? He has not been arrested, nor has he been interviewed/interrogated. His house was not destroyed, nor were his cars damaged. He was not manhandled, shall I go on?

Lynching was a real and horrible crime committed in the South, even in this county. DO NOT EVEN try to compare this to that. That is an affront to th poor souls who have really been hung without justice.

Again, folks, the old ways of throwing racism charges, throwing "lynching"--it just does not work anymore.

Catbird
Catbird

Oh puleeese "Justice", there does not exist a bigger bleeding heart white-male-guilted liberal that Jim Schutze and everyone knows it.

He has established his leftist bona fides for his entire career and has valiantly defended even the most repulsive of their causes right here in the Observer for the two decades I've been reading.

But the thing about Schutze is that he isn't apologist for individuals...he's an qual opportunity truth teller; Republican, Democrat, white, black, rich poor, I just really don't believe it matters much to him...he lays it out flat.

And by the way, just because some members of the white establishment have been ripping off the electorate of Dallas county for years and getting away with it doesn't mean that its right or that it will go forever unpunished...maybe they just haven't gotten caught yet.

 

OED_Denizen
OED_Denizen

I have been on the faculty of the UT Southwestern Medical Center for many years and each year we MUST complete a financial disclosure form that covers all of the situations that you describe. If there is a financial conflict of interest, a conflict of interest group will counsel you regarding what you should/must do about it.

I have also served on City Boards and Commissions. Depending on the Board or Commission, the Financial Disclosure form is more or less complicated. These must be completed each year. I know that they are checked because my appointment was held up because of a percieved conflict which was not real but it still had to be resolved to the satisfaction of the City Attorney's Office.

I note however that both of these institutions are PUBLIC and not PRIVATE businesses

Catbird
Catbird

Make your exit plans now cause it's gonna happen...only worse than you could possibly know.

Dallas Diner
Dallas Diner

I'm sure the DMN will report on it in a week or so.

LivingToday
LivingToday

Sorry, the FBI is what I meant to type

Cujo
Cujo

Just curious whether they'd censor Jim if he replied to the DMN blog that "Guest" refers to above. My suspicion is that they would only because they probably have already done this to others previously. It'd be fun to drag this out in public debate but I can't see anyone from the DMN crazy enough to do so.

Willie
Willie

It's like a newspaper burying a very worthy, but delicate, story in the middle of the front section.

Dallas Diner
Dallas Diner

My guess is that there are no Belo Corp. business interests that are dependent on Parkland, so it is a convenient big target when the DMN wants to flex its oh so creaky investigative chops and pretend like it actually gives a damn about the community.

JimS
JimS

Good point. The Southern end of the county beyond the city limits of Dallas has done much better than Southern Dallas itself. I painted with way too broad a brush on that one.

Tjfjr2
Tjfjr2

if you're going to get the big dogs, you must ferret out the disadvantaged extortionists andtake the money back. thank god for mr. jim. he's been working on that very task for so many years.  

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

That's my hope, as well.  If this investigation starts and ends with John Wiley Price, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Royce West, etc.-- that's the equivalent of just cleaning up the street level drug pushers and leaving the big-time dealers alone.  Other corrupt politicians will simply be "hired" to take their place.

Justice
Justice

Hmmmm.  Why don't "YOU" think "THEY" haven't gotten caught yet?  I mean, it's not like there are a shortage of "THEM" 

ThatGuy
ThatGuy

Did this march happen?

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Well, EBJ is no fan of JWP, and has made comments about Inland port stuff before....

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

They don't "Extort," because they BUY what they want. They buy off people, contracts, shut down competition---hence the statue of a cattle drive that never happened in Dallas located where another rich, white guy wanted to build a hotel...

You are defending how they use Dallas like toilet paper?

Catbird
Catbird

If you really want to know I'll tell you but you won't like it.

You can look at Maslow's hierarchy of needs and predict what, for instance, Teri Hodge and Ross Perot, will be motivated by.

Hodge was clearly located in the second level "Safety" because she traded her influence and the public trust for free rent and was convicted and sent to prison for the illegal exchange.

Perot, on the other hand, alread has everything he could need or desire and is located in the "Self Actualization" level which is all about morality, creativity, problem solving and acceptance of facts.

In other words, the rich white guys don't really do anything themselves...they don't use the power of their elected office to extort an apartment, a suit, a meal, a car or a consulting contract from anyone. (All felonies by the way)

They never get caught because they never get themselves involved in any criminal conduct of any kind.

These folks are not like you and me Justice, they take a sort of "ownership" attitude towards Dallas (or wherever) and, looking globally at the long view, initiate the sorts of actions within their sphere of influence which cause what they believe to be beneficial macroeconomic change to occur over very long periods of time...which coincidentially may benefit their financial interests but only indirectly.

No law against that Justice...in fact, it's called philanthropy.

Told you you wouldn't like it.

      

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