Demon Possession or Just Good Thinking, the News' Segregation Editorial Was a Good Thing

Categories: Schutze

Rosemary-3.jpg
When I read the editorial Tuesday in the News, I felt like Rosemary. You know, "OK, whose voice is that?"
Yesterday The Dallas Morning News carried a really tough, plain-talking editorial condemning City Hall policies that have produced deliberate racial segregation in Dallas. It was the kind of editorial that should be applauded and really doesn't deserve to be nitpicked. But when did that ever stop me?

In a clear and unfamiliar voice (demon possession?), the paper's editorial page did not quibble one iota with findings of a recently released four-year federal investigation:

"City Hall must cease and desist," it said, "from discriminatory practices and find ways to eliminate, rather than reinforce, pockets of poverty dominated by racial minorities."

The editorial page even went on to say that if Dallas can't mend its ways it deserves whatever consequences may lie ahead. "Dallas officials must reverse this pattern or prepare for a well-justified punishment."

Wow. Look. The Dallas Morning News just doesn't say stuff like that. Ask any old person. That's why I say this editorial either reflects a major turnaround somewhere within the hierarchy at the paper, or it's demons. And who cares? This is something City Hall really really needed to hear: The News is telling them, "Guess what guys. We do not got your back on this." That message will resonate in the halls of insider influence.

In yet another of my own uncanny prognostications, I predicted recently that the city's only daily would never take on this issue directly because of its own institutional complicity in the downtown redevelopment policies at the center of the scathing report by the U.S. Department of Housing and urban Development (HUD). I'm telling you, I'm bulletproof on these predictions. Just bet the other way.

But did I mention possible nitpicking? Oh, yes, and in fact I see this as a bit more than a nit. Some of the rationale offered in the News editorial felt to me like an echo of many heartfelt, well-stated, wonderfully emotive, totally wrong comments we have seen here on Unfair Park on this same topic -- namely that whatever racial segregation HUD may have found in Dallas is an unfortunate but unintended echo of inevitable divisions of class and income level.

No. If that were the case, there would be no HUD report. Listen. If anything, HUD has a long ignominious history of running in the opposite direction from these kinds of complaints. And that's sort of understandable, if not noble, given the brutal political blow-back against any and all attempts to achieve true racial desegregation of housing in our nation. For a great national summary of that sordid story, see ProPublica's series last year by Nikole Hannah-Jones, "Living Apart: How the government betrayed a landmark civil rights law."

The HUD investigation of Dallas only happened because two Dallas real estate developers, outraged over what they said was pressure from Dallas City Hall to break the law on use of federal desegregation money, carried out their own private investigation first, before HUD. That 15-month, very expensive investigation produced evidence that was, in Godfather terms, a deal HUD couldn't refuse.

In particular, a detailed analysis of segregation in Dallas, which you will find below, by one of the nation's top experts, showed two things: 1) Segregation by race in Dallas is worse than and does not conform to levels of segregation by income and class, and 2) in spite of that, segregation in Dallas was declining of its own accord until Dallas City Hall embarked on a kind of segregation spree a decade ago.

The study by Andrew A. Beveridge of City University of New York found that segregation of blacks from non-Hispanic whites in Dallas is significantly worse than segregation by income alone. In fact, affluent blacks are more segregated from affluent whites than the overall level of segregation between blacks and whites of all income levels. In other words, the richer you get, if you're black, the more segregated is the neighborhood you're likely to live in.

The Beveridge report and other evidence presented by developers Curtis Lockey and Craig MacKenzie are related to an important corollary issue in the ongoing federal court litigation on these charges. That question is whether or not Lockey and MacKenzie can qualify as the whistle-blowers who brought all of this to the attention of the federal government. If they meet that bar, then they can claim a lucrative financial reward under laws governing fraud against the government.

But it's a high bar. The rules may be more legally technical than what a humble nitpicker should presume to explain here. The judge over the case on the Dallas federal bench has ruled twice that the pair do not meet the requirements, arguing there were plenty of other ways for the federal government to figure out it was getting diddled by Dallas.

So let me go at it the humble nitpicker way, instead of legal technical. Based on the evidence of my own eyes and longer experience than I wish to reveal covering issues of government and race, I can say this without any equivocation: HUD was never going to shuffle its feet on this issue -- ever -- until Lockey and MacKenzie lit the agency's shoes on fire. And everybody involved, from the federal judge to the editorial page to City Hall, knows that.

In real-world terms, the argument that HUD could have figured it out from myriad other sources is absurd, a seamy inside joke, because HUD didn't want to figure it out. I don't know if that fact has any bearing at all on whistle-blower law -- probably doesn't -- but it has a big bearing on the social and moral reality here.

Nobody ever does what Lockey and MacKenzie did. Nobody ever bucks the sleazy deal. They keep their mouths shut even if they get screwed, because they know they'll never get another deal if they bitch.

In fact the HUD report states clearly that HUD only began to look into the Dallas fraud allegations because of the information Lockey and MacKenzie brought to the agency. This may be unfair of me (heaven forfend), but I can even read that part of the report as saying, "Hey, don't blame us. Lockey and MacKenzie made us do it."

What the judge in this case is really prescribing is more of the same rule of omerta that has always prevailed. When he says there were lots of ways for HUD to find out Dallas was misusing hundreds of millions in federal funds, he's giving us a nudge-nudge wink-wink. Yeah, everybody knew. Yeah, everybody saw it. But the point is, nobody squawked. Ever. Everybody went along to get along. Until Lockey and MacKenzie made it impossible for HUD to ignore the evidence they had amassed, this massive, deeply corrosive corruption was never going to be acknowledged by anyone. Maybe that's not whistle-blowing under the law, but if it's not, what is?

So, I'm a bit far afield from where I started. I think I started out wanting to get to something about the News editorial page doing a good turn for the city by taking a brave stance on a very tough issue. But darn it, look at the time, will you? And I haven't let my wife's chickens out yet as I promised before she left. So I'll have to get back to you on that. Pluck-pluck.

Beveridge Report by Schutze


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30 comments
Catbird
Catbird

"...find ways to eliminate, rather than reinforce, pockets of poverty dominated by racial minorities."


This sounds a lot like what the Great White Father said about the Indian reservations...

rusknative
rusknative

are you certain that affluent Blacks do not PREFER to live among OTHER affluent Blacks and not affluent Whites....do you remember the North Dallas Street, off of Preston, called "McShan"....only professional skilled Blacks had really nice homes there....surrounded by homes predominately White...but in a PART OF TOWN that was convenient to UPSCALE amentities and shops.....What is with this hold over of thinking that segregation is a COLOR only issue......white LIBERALS are so elitist and confused thinking THEY know what to do with BLACK FOLKS......Jim Crow still lives, but now pretends to TAKE CARE OF THE BLACK SOCIAL ISSUES....and like LBJ....to "wage war on poverty".....

What pathetic naive social claptrap.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

I too was surprised the 'ol Ed Board planted the flag and stood up.

But unlike sticking with JWP, what's the downside by horse slapping City Hall?

It ain't like HUD dropping the charges would hurt their reputation.  Hell, they got the morality play left.

But a full bore nationally televised spanking by HUD needed to be gotten out in front of.

And this chit does it.

No pods in the basement yet.

timdickey
timdickey

I remember John Ware using $25 million of Community Development Block Grant money to give to the developers of the Santa Fe project downtown. Same kind of thing?

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

O'Connor putting on his best Obi Wan face:

"These are not the whistleblowers you are looking for."

"Move along . . ."

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Dmn ed board... check the basement for pods.

noqt10
noqt10

You bring up a good point about HUD not enforcing their own laws, so why isnt HUD just as culpable as Dallas? They acted on the HUD complaint, but sitting by with no action on the False Claims lawsuit...............shouldn't they have to refer to DOJ to intervene?? Given the evidence................


If I were these guys I would look into suing HUD for the same false claims.........

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

Another HUD story. Well, at least it's not Mike Miles again, we've got that going for us.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@rusknative 

Good thinking. Do you also remember the period of American history when white people were all slaves and black people owned them? I think that was on Fox, too.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@timdickey 

I think CDBG money is the Oxycodone of local governance.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@noqt10  

Yeah, HUD kind of did their due diligence in the end. I don't know how HUD/DOJ works. What O'Connor has done here is give Dallas breathing space to settle the fair housing complaint, which is separate from the false claims action, before the false claims thing gets taken up by the 5th Circuit. If Dallas taxpayers ever saw all of it at once -- what the HUD housing complaint settlement will cost us PLUS what the false claims action will cost us -- then we probably would do what the good people of Westchester County did in the same position -- throw all the bums out who put us in this positon.

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/04/23/possible-contempt-charges-for-westchester-county-exec-over-fair-housing-settlement/ 

JMFitzmaurice
JMFitzmaurice

@P1Gunter

This isn't like a Miles story where there are opinion differences (some of us like his reforms, some of us want a lot of reforms, but think his are totally wrong, and some just don't want reform) even on the disciplining of him there is scope for disagreement (terms like "maintain a good working relationship" are pretty nebulous.) This is a flat violation of the law. Now one may agree or disagree with the law I suppose, but that doesn't really matter. The city didn't follow the law. They took money promising to use it on A: and used it not only on B, but on a B that was to do the exact opposite of A.


If I offer my kid $5 if he doesn't eat sugar for a week, and I catch him eating a couple candy bars that he bought with that $5 he doesn't get to say, "well I disagree with the ban on sugar, in fact currant studies show that the link between sugar and hyperactivity are questionable, and I feel my weight is within normal guidelines, so there is no reason for me not to eat sugar." He has to give back the money, and face additional punishment for breaking the rules I set down, and he agreed to. When the city of Dallas does much the same thing they have to not only give back the money, but they also have to pay the penalties for breaking the law. Simple as that.


Personally I'm horrified and embarrassed that the city was still trying to intentionally segregate, but even if you aren't or disagree that is what it was, it doesn't negate the fact that they broke the law.

rusknative
rusknative

@JimSX@rusknativeI will take your word for what is "on Fox" as most liberals seem to use Fox for material to play Don Quixote with verbally.  In fact, slaves have existed forever and were not originally all black....today, more little kids and women are SLAVES....but THEY don't have a bunch of lib organizations of Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton to march for THEM.  I stand my my comments, and trump your age experience as I am 72 and have been around the stump a lot longer than most midwestern transplants to Texas.

Catbird
Catbird

@JimSX@rusknative Jim, when will slavery be over with for you and the other liberal minded people? The south was defeated, Atlanta was burned, Sherman gutted the Confederacy when he marched to the sea, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863...that's 150 years ago and yet people who think like you refuse to bury the damned thing. Why is this so important to you?

Lorlee
Lorlee

@JimSX@timdickeyIt was worse.  I tried and tried to get someone to pay attention to that.  Can't tell you how many reporters I tried to get interested at the time.  Maybe I should get the whistle blower money.  They guaranteed the loans to developers with CDBG money, The loan from HUD was a 15 year note and the loans to developers were 25.  So after 10 years and CDBG picking up the loan payments -- about the time the money will start getting paid back to CDBG from the Developers, the City sells the loans for 50 cents on the dollar (Jerry Killingsworth's idea) and CDBG got nothing.  My recollection is that it was something like 22-30M that CDBG paid and no low income people were helped in the process.


ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Don't reference it...but post a link?? Methinks thou dost protest too much.

You were just explaining for the youngsters here, eh.

rusknative
rusknative

@JimSX@noqt10 or maybe let the fed funds go bye bye and make "po folks" shift for themselves at FULL PRICE...as in the MARKETPLACE rates....subsidizing slums is foolish.

rusknative
rusknative

@JMFitzmaurice@P1GunterDallas should have spent the money on more black memorial art projects like the County did with the old water fountain in the Records Bldg....per JWP funding.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

I don't disagree with you. The correlation to Miles is that was the last story Unfair Park beat to death. How many stories on this same subject with virtually nothing changing have we had in the last week?

subcutaneoustv
subcutaneoustv

@Catbird @leftocenter -- It's the overactive imagination of angry white males who have nothing better to do than to whine and bellow and moan when a particular minority achieves equality. If I had a dollar each time a conservative christian whined about gay marriage, I'd be a millionaire!

I've always just wondered why instead of being 'born-again' these folks don't just simply GROW UP like the rest of rational and sane society.

bargal20
bargal20

@Catbird@JimSX@rusknativeYeah, it's not as if Jim Crow ever happened. Also, it's gosh-darned annoying how liberals keep flying those Confederate flags everywhere! When will they accept the South lost?

Catbird
Catbird

@leftocenter We live in an affirmative action society Jim where white males born into poverty are legally penalized by the government and every significant societal institution for both their skin color and their gender. Is this "discrimination" or just the imagination of the angry white males?

leftocenter
leftocenter

@Catbird@JimSX

Right Catbird!  Done and done, and the African-American community is none the worse for it...

Why do you want to wash your hands of the fall-out?  Lemme guess...white male.  Never dealt with discrimination a day in your life.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

@JimSX@P1Gunter I think in Jim's perfect world HUD and Mike Miles team up to build the Trinity Tollroad and route it under the MHH bridge with John Wiley Price in charge of levee repairs with no oversight. That story would keep you busy for at least a month. Hell, it might be 2016 before we got another story out of you.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@P1Gunter 

Promise: next item -- ancient Mayan bean powder doubles kadoozer size overnight.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@P1Gunter 

I told you Mike Miles is a secret agent for HUD, right?

noqt10
noqt10

@P1Gunter 


You missed that this article was very different than the past articles regarding the HUD story; there were quite a few changes worth reporting, which Schutze did an excellent job of..............next time, read more than just the Title of the story................

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