How City Officials Keep Dallas Segregated, and the Two Developers Suing to Stop Them

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Yesterday I wrote about Curtis Lockey and Craig MacKenzie, who were on my mind Tuesday night as I watched the final electoral votes for Obama click into place. Lockey and MacKenzie are real estate developers suing Dallas in federal court over what they claim is massive misuse of federal de-segregation money. I said I was going to check back in with them ASAP after a long silence.

See also:
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The point was this: Their suit really turns on the assumption that an Obama administration in general and HUD Secretary Ron Sims in particular will be a lot less prone than predecessors to wink at this kind of claim. The plaintiffs argue that over several decades Dallas took hundreds of millions in federal money dedicated to furthering de-segregation. The city swore on official documents they were using the money the right way. The plaintiffs swear the city spent it instead to do just the opposite - promote segregation.

They say Dallas spent the money building condos for rich white people downtown and then jamming more and more all-minority subsidized housing into all-minority neighborhoods. That, the plaintiffs claim, is an official policy of segregation. Swearing on federal documents you're doing the opposite, they say, is fraud.

Well, I did not have a whole lot of luck getting the plaintiffs to talk to me yesterday. Something about being in the middle of a federal lawsuit and not wanting to jam themselves up by being blabbermouths. Duly noted.

But I did look at the court documents. Fairly interesting. The latest thing filed is an agreement by the plaintiffs that the Dallas Housing Authority does not have to give them certain documents that might compromise the privacy of public housing residents. Makes sense that two guy suing to make public housing more fair and just don't want to mess up the private lives of the people who live in public or subsidized housing.

More interesting are the earlier documents, which I revisited. First of all, the city claims that it did nothing in secret or with subterfuge, and that everybody knew all along how it was spending the federal de-seg money. Part of their argument is the Mitt Romney defense - look at my web page: "Information on a publicly available website is a public disclosure either as an administrative report or news media," the city says in its brief.

Wow. You ever try to find something on the city's web site? If I stole an elephant from the circus, that's where I would hide it. Ah, but, anyway: I'm not a lawyer, am I?

It was other arguments that really caught my eye. The city argues in the brief that the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD, which gave them the moolah, never told them they were doing anything wrong, so they weren't doing anything wrong.

Mmmm. Don't know about that one. My understanding was that Westchester County, New York, where the first really big case of this same sort took place, made this argument when it was sued over the very same claims. Westchester got slammed big-time on that one. The judge said basically, "No, no. You swore on the documents that you spent the money the right way. HUD took you at your word. That's it. HUD had no obligation to check to see if you were lying, which you were."

There's another intriguing argument in the city's brief. They seem to suggest that furthering segregation was what Dallas' minority leaders wanted. I think they've got a point. It's an important aspect of a social tragedy I've been writing about since I wrote my book, The Accommodation, in 1986.

It's true. Dallas minority leaders, especially in the black community, are Marcus Garvey separatists. They have always been distinct from the national black civil rights movement for their continued faith in segregation.

Here's the problem. Segregation is against the law. If Dallas happens to be some kind of bizarre civil rights Brigadoon living in the past, so what? So what if this stubbornly entrenched separation from reality happens to include local black and Hispanic leaders? That doesn't make segregation legal. It just makes Dallas bizarre.

Reading this brief, I keep hearing the voices of convicted felons and former city council members Al Lipscomb and Don Hill, and maybe even the voices of the ever bizarre closed-door downtown moneybags leadership group called The Dallas Citizens Council:
But this is how we have always done it in Dallas. As I once heard a federal law enforcement official say: "Yes, that's the problem."

Why does any of this matter? Last year the Dallas Housing Authority eliminated 117 jobs to deal with a 17 percent cut in only one of its many HUD-funded programs. The theoretical remedy called for in the law, if Lockey and MacKenzie nail their claims, is a cut-off in all HUD funding for the city and related entities. That's pretty much the budgetary equivalent of Hurricane Lockenzie.

Of course, that's not what happens. Instead, we wind up like Westchester, with a settlement and a federal judge running a huge chunk of federally funded city operations.
My own two-bit projection is that this case, which has been mired in process for months, is going to start moving forward again. I said yesterday that this case, like Westchester, was premised at least in part on the belief that, "there's a new sheriff in town." Sheriff Obama.

The sheriff just got his mojo back.

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48 comments
LatinoSpeakBlog
LatinoSpeakBlog

One of the very troubling impacts of this case, is the disproportionate effect on Latino's in Dallas, given their exploding population in Texas. Considering they (Latino's) were the deciding factor in the election of Obama, Dallas politicians better take heed. 

Lorlee
Lorlee

If I remember correctly, this has to do with the City using Community Development money (which has income restrictions) to back downtown housing which didn't have any housing for the people the money was intended to serve -- and then lied about that.  Much less to do with plopping lots of low-income housing in white areas. 

HSPP
HSPP

There was a mandate sent to America by the People on Tuesday:

 

ALL PEOPLE WILL SHARE IN THE BURDENS OF AMERICA, AS WELL AS THE OPPORTUNITIES OF AMERICA!!! 

JMLO
JMLO

"It was other arguments that really caught my eye. The city argues in the brief that the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD, which gave them the moolah, never told them they were doing anything wrong, so they weren't doing anything wrong.

 

Mmmm. Don't know about that one. My understanding was that Westchester County, New York, where the first really big case of this same sort took place, made this argument when it was sued over the very same claims. Westchester got slammed big-time on that one. The judge said basically, "No, no. You swore on the documents that you spent the money the right way. HUD took you at your word. That's it. HUD had no obligation to check to see if you were lying, which you were."

 

Yeah, great defense: "Yeah, were guilty as hell, but HUD knew about it, so we are exonerated." Good luck with that one! 

 

PerryMoore
PerryMoore

If Mr. Obama wants to be the sheriff, godspeed. We sure as hell need one. All we really expect down here is for him to chase all that big-time corruption and leave us the hell alone. Oh yeah, and if I am forced to help pay for my neighbor's bike, I want to ride it once a month.

joblo
joblo

I don't understand.  Are you actually suggesting to put government subsidized housing in rich areas?  There is a reason that people with money choose to not live in a HUD environment, or anywhere near it.  

censormeallyouwant
censormeallyouwant

The crux of Jimmie's article: Minorities can only live in subsidized housing.

 

Why is that Jim? Is it because you believe they are incapable of making their own way? Seems like you believe minorities are helpless and need white people like Jim Shutze to save them

censormeallyouwant
censormeallyouwant

All of you white guilt liberals are free to move to these so called "all minority neighborhoods" you feign to care about.

 

But you won't.

 

So please spare us your disingenuous outrage. You're all racists.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

After the secession, TX. won't need to worry about all that federal moolah.

GraveDigger
GraveDigger

 @JMLO Or, "we put our wrongdoings on the internet, therefore we are exonerated." 

 

This is where a few Judges bastardized the public disclosure bar with horrific rulings, which was never the intent of congress. That issue has now been cleansed by other rulings, appellate courts, and legislative amendments. 

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

 @Jeez

The PEW study is aimed more at income (or wealth) segregation and not racial segregation.  I don't think that you can correlate the two, especially in northern Dallas County.

 

Face it, people with wealth and income will situate themselves in an area that is pleasant, crime free (relatively so) and has the infrastructure support around it of schools, commercial, retail and employment.

 

There is one factor overlooked.  In NYC there is this thing called rent control.

 

Another factor is land use patterns.  Many of the newer cities in the south and southwest have a large amounts of vacant land available for development.

 

And then there is the JWP "tax" in south Dallas, now which kind of racism is that?

 

A lot of what you see is similar to that of Detroit which is an extreme example of capital flight.

JimSXXX
JimSXXX

@joblo actually, enough americans are comfortable with diversity to produce more than than 300 electoral votes. How many you get?

joblo
joblo

and if you did the rich would all move elsewhere leaving only the minorities... of course they can't follow the rich until Obama steps in and gives them a new home to move to.

Perry_Lowe
Perry_Lowe

 @censormeallyouwant Its attitudes like yours that got City Hall in the mess they find themselves in now. Perfectly emblematic! 

 

You are a true Dallasite. 

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

 @censormeallyouwant Think maybe some of your happy meal got stuck in your keyboard. Maybe try eating with mouth closed.

FH_Tex
FH_Tex

 @censormeallyouwant  @LatinoSpeakBlog Spoken like a true racist. If you are so intolerant of people of color, why don't you move as far north as you need to be around mostly whites. Texas is going to become more colored as time goes on. It will even become a blue state by 2020, so you better get a move-on. 

JMLO
JMLO

 @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  @Jeez You have missed the whole point. Of course, rich people live in rich areas, but segregation is segregation (meaning by color - blacks over here, whites over there, not incomes). It all started decades ago, government planned it, orchestrated it, and lastly still to this day, supported it. 

Guesty
Guesty

 @JimSXXX  @joblo Jim, I'm normally with you, but your response doesn't address the issue.  People who like diversity still generally don't live very economically diverse lives.  

 

President Obama lives in a very affluent neighborhood in Chicago (an average home is about a million in Kenwood).  He sends his kids to elite private schools few could even dream of paying for.  Like most wealthy African-Americans, he has structured his life so that he lives around people of similar economic status.  People with sensibilities similar to President Obama like to live in culturally and racially diverse neighborhoods, but they still like to avoid living in areas with problems common to poverty (crime, bad schools, etc.).  Even in NYC, where people have no choice but to live on top of each other, there aren't poor people intermixed with rich, they just measure the segregated areas in blocks instead of miles.

 

I've found this is one reason Dallas has trouble attracting professionals that are racial minorities.  They often want to live in a very nice neighborhood like HP but they don't want to live in a lily-white neighborhood like HP.  Places like NYC, Chicago and Atlanta have neighborhoods that satisfy both.  Dallas, not so much.  

censormeallyouwant
censormeallyouwant

 @JimSXXX  @joblo I don't see Obama trying to use a  Section 8 voucher any time soon so what is your point? If you are so comfortable with diversity then what is stopping you from moving to one of these "all minority neighborhoods?" The government? No.

Jeez
Jeez

 @jim.schutze  @joblo Yeah, its like these right wing nut jobs missed the whole election on Tuesday! 

censormeallyouwant
censormeallyouwant

 @Perry_Lowe Attitudes like mine? Or Yours and Jimmie's? 

 

Nothing is stopping you from moving out of your whiteopia and into one of these so called segregated "all minority neighborhoods." So do it. Or STFU.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

 @drtz  @JMLO  @Jeez If you are talking about items such as the poll tax or the minimum amount of cash needed to avoid vagrancy charges then you are absolutely correct.

 

These weren't tantamount to racial discrimination, these were racial discrimination.

 

The same goes for the so called literacy tests at polling locations.

 

What is at matter here in this lawsuit is that the City certified to HUD that the funds would be used for low income housing when in fact the funds were not used for low income housing.

 

If you are saying that income segregation is equal to racial segregation then I do not see how you can draw the causal link.

drtz
drtz

 @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  @JMLO  @Jeez I thought we decided close to 100 years ago that laws that discriminated by means of monetary resources (some of the Jim Crow Laws) were tantamount to racial discrimination.  For some reason courts haven't made the seemingly obvious connection that policies which encourage income segregation via infrastructure and real estate development in practice still encourage racial segregation.

 

 

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

 @JimSX  @JMLO  @Jeez It is also illegal for individual citizens to do certain things based on race, religion and gender, most notably housing, lending and employment.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

 @JMLO  @Jeez The logic does not follow.   The PEW report says that cities are segregated by income then Jim makes the conclusion that we are therefor segregated by race.

 

There are other factors that can account just as easily for the income segregation.  For me the most obvious is level of education.

 

Why not do a similar study to determine if the racial segregation is due to level of education and my expectation is that a similar pattern or correlation with income level will be shown.  I think that there is more of a causality between income segregation and level of education than there is causality between income segregation and racial segregation.  As an initial item of proof for this causal link, look at the racial date for the census tracts in northern Dallas County.  While there are not as many blacks living in northern Dallas as a percentage of the overall population, there is probably a stronger correlation between residence and education than there is between residence and income level.

 

Additionally, other confounding factors are land use patterns and land available for development.

 

Please don't think that I am condoning what was done with the HUD funds.  On the contrary, the furtherance of segregation by racial characteristics is highly abhorrent to me.  While I hope that the City of Dallas gets its clocked cleaned on this, the consequences will be on the citizens of Dallas and not on the individual perpetrators of the fraud.

 

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

 @JMLO  @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  @Jeez Good point. People have the right to separate themselves by all kinds of factors, but we decided as a country almost half a century ago that it's illegal for government to enforce or promote separation by race.

HSPP
HSPP

 @Guesty  @JimSX  @JimSXXX  @joblo Government started these terrible policies/attitudes/actions a long time ago, discontinued some but did continue many:

 

Of those 160,000 residents, more than 13,000 belonged to the Klan, the highest per capita of any city in the country. Dallas journalist and historian Darwin Payne, who has written extensively about the KKK in Dallas, has estimated that "after discounting ineligible groups such as women, children and minorities, the membership presumably represented about one out of three eligible men in Dallas."

 

Nationwide, between 4 million and 5 million belonged to the Klan. Dallas Klan No. 66, according to the KKK itself, was the nation's largest chapter.

 

Over the last few elections, candidates backed by the Kluxers had won control of City Hall and the county courthouse. The city police commissioner and the county sheriff were Klansmen.

 

So were many of the law officers they commanded. So were many of the city's working men, businessmen - including Chamber of Commerce members - lawyers and judges, dentists and doctors, and several journalists. The pastors of some of the larger, influential Protestant churches praised the Kluxers from their pulpits.

 

http://www.dallasnews.com/section-archives/125th-anniversary/headlines/20100515-at-its-peak-ku-klux-klan-gripped-dallas.ece

 

Guesty
Guesty

 @JimSX  @JimSXXX  @joblo No disagreement from me that there shouldn't be a policy of segregation of any sort.  But I think you put too fine a gloss on the issue of how easy it would be to place public housing projects in nicer neighborhoods.  No nice neighborhood wants public housing to go in next door, regardless of the racial composition of the neighborhood or the race of the prospective tenets of the public housing.  Look what happens when someone wants to put a damn Boat House on a lake, or a Wal-Mart on Greenville Ave., etc.  Hell, people don't even like nursing homes to go into their neighborhoods.  

 

Of course, you are also either oversimplifying Lockey and MacKenzie's position, or they are oversimplifying the facts.  I have no doubt the city steered public housing projects to South Dallas, in part because some folks in North Dallas and the CBC didn't want "undesirables" moving in next door.  And we all know that the effect results in predominately African-American tenants of public housing living in predominately African-American neighborhoods.  But that isn't the same thing as having "an official policy that says white people cannot live next to non-white people, no matter what."  It's more a policy that says poor people on public assistance aren't welcome to live in areas the Dallas elite would like to reserve for themselves (note they would rather Ron Kirk live next door than any poor white family) or want to keep happy for political reasons (e.g. middle-class neighborhoods).  

 

I also doubt the developers much cared about the racial issues one way or the other.  Rather, I'd guess they found that they could make more money building public housing in African-American neighborhoods, where land was cheap, than they could in established middle-class neighborhoods.  None of that makes it right or fair, but it also isn't quite the picture you've painted.       

Guesty
Guesty

 @JMLO  @Guesty  @JimSXXX  @joblo  What did I write that had anything to do with federal dollars?  I only intended to suggest that rich African-Americans or other diversity loving rich folks don't want to live around poor people, as much as they might otherwise promote cultural or racial diversity.  Jim seems to believe that because a majority of people voted for Obama (I did) that a majority of people would also have no problem living next door to a public housing project.  I just don't think that conclusion can be drawn from the evidence relied on by Jim.   

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

 @Guesty  @JimSXXX  @joblo Sure. You're right, a big reason being kids. People who are successful, especially newly successful so they still remember the losers back in the 'hood, don't want their kids growing up within 100 miles of what they know to be self-destructive culture. That makes sense. And they sort of know the allure that the bad guys can exert if they show up in an apartment building down the block and start walking around all pimpy cool. But Section 8 housing and other federal programs nowadays  have been very cleaned up and go mainly to young families, fully employed single parents and the elderly. It's perfectly possible to find acceptably congenial neighborhoods for those units  that are not in all black neighborhoods, just as it is perfectly feasible to shoehorn some affordable units into a fancy condo tower downtown without making all the rich people heave themselves off the roof in fear and loathing. What Lockey and MacKenzie are talking about is an official policy that says white people cannot live next to non-white people, no matter what. We''re not really going to argue about that one, are we?

GraveDigger
GraveDigger

 @JMLO  @Guesty  @JimSXXX  @joblo Case in point: Check out what is going on with Jesse Jackson these days. What about JWP? What about Don Hill? 

 

Nobody (including Municipalities) is above the law. 

JMLO
JMLO

 @Guesty  @JimSXXX  @joblo Did President Obama use his own personal income to live this life you describe? Yes!!! 

 

If he used federal dollars that were to be used for something other than his personal life, then your comment might mean something. 

 

Therefore, your comment means, blah blah blah blah! And I was being nice to give you that much credit. 

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

 @censormeallyouwant  @JimSXXX  @joblo I live in an "all minority neighborhood", in south dallas county in fact.  I'm surrounded by good food, helpful neighbors, and respect for my bounds of residence.  Sure there's crime in the area.  We all are aware of it and conduct ourselves accordingly.

 

The argument being made in the comments is not the argument in the story.  Yes there is an income divide in Dallas County, yes funds for low-income housing were misused (stolen would be an accurate assessment) and the local government is complicit.  What segregates people is not race, income or education, but willingness to be a victim.  The people in my neighborhood do not see themselves as victims, nor will they tolerate anyone trying to victimize them.  We may be struggling, we may be lacking certain luxuries, but we're not asking anyone to give these things to us, and we're certainly not about to let anyone take what we have.

GraveDigger
GraveDigger

 @Perry_Lowe  @censormeallyouwant Speaking of the Dallas Citizens Council, I just read that Donna Halstead (President of DCC) is stepping down next year. Ironically, she talks about the segregation in Dallas in the short article: 

 

“We will have a geographic divide, but I don’t see the racial tension we had in 1991.”

 

You would think after a 20 year reign she would have more to say, unless it was really weighing on her, literally. 

 

http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2012/11/donna-halstead-to-step-down-next-year-as-president-of-citizens-association.html/     

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