John Wiley Price Withdraws Request for Court-Appointed Attorney

Alex Scott
Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, acting through his attorney Billy Ravkind, has pulled his application for a taxpayer-paid lawyer. Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn reset a hearing to evaluate Price's claims of indigence after Price didn't show up to court -- apparently with Ravkind's blessing. Lynn was aggravated, demanded Price show up next Tuesday and resolve a series of questions she still had about his apparent poverty.

Among other things, Lynn asked Price to give the court the values of his residence and rental property on East Fifth Street near Lake Cliff, to detail his monthly income including his vehicle allowance and to explain what happened to the $11,000 in cash Price had on him at the time of his arrest.

Lynn also wanted to know about the monthly mineral rights checks Price gets, a trio properties deeded, by Price, to Ravkind in addition to a detailed listing of all the cars owned by Price and why he was unable to sell them or use them as collateral for a loan.

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John Wiley Price Doesn't Show for Federal Court Hearing on Court-Appointed Lawyer

Thumbnail image for JohnWiley_Price_Merten.jpg
Sam Merten
The man himself, JWP.
As one might have expected, knowing that Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price was expected in federal court Tuesday, the morning's regularly scheduled commissioners' meeting was one member short. Much to U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn's chagrin though, it wasn't Price who missed the meeting -- Theresa Daniel was absent -- he was there, in the same seat he's held for 30 years, sitting just to County Judge Clay Jenkins left.

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In the Hours After Ebola Landed in Dallas, No One Knew Who Was In Charge

Dallas Observer
All of Vanity Fair reporter Bryan Burrough's portrait of Dallas in the hours, days and weeks after the arrival of Thomas Eric Duncan is worth reading, but we thought it'd be worthwhile to highlight some of the most interesting stuff in his piece for those who can't afford to read 9,000-plus words in the middle of the workday.

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Craig Watkins' Use of Forfeiture Funds Is Being Audited by the Feds

Sam Merten
Getting hit by the door on his way out.
Maybe Mike Cantrell was right. As first reported by The Dallas Morning News late last night, the Dallas County District Attorney's Office is being investigated for the potential improper use of money seized during criminal investigations.

Cantrell, the lone Republican on the Dallas County Commissioner's Court, fought a solo battle over the summer to have outside council appointed to take a deeper look into Watkins' management of the forfeiture fund, specifically his using it to settle a February 2013 car wreck for which he was at fault.

See also: Commissioner Mike Cantrell Continues Lonely Crusade Against Craig Watkins

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Dallas County Officials Say Video Won't End Regular Jail Visits. Can We Believe Them?

Thumbnail image for dallascountyjailwikicommons.jpg
Andreas Praefcke
In October 2012, Travis County officials promised that bringing video visitation to the local jails wouldn't affect anything else about jail visits.

"We're not changing anything else from what we're doing," Travis County Major Darren Long told the county commissioners before they voted to approve a contract with Securus, the Dallas-based company offering the video visitation. "You can still come and do your free visits the traditional way, but that will provide an opportunity for those that don't feel like driving long distances."

In May 2013 Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton eliminated all in-person visits at his jails.

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Software Vendor Takes "Full Responsibility" For Election Day Website Crash

Stephen Young
How looked on election day.
They had one job. Last Tuesday, the one day this year most people will even think to look at the Dallas County elections website, it went down. For seven hours. Any person needing to know her polling place had to seek out other methods. The situation was laughable, but it also couldn't have helped turnout.

See also: Dallas County's Voting Website Is Down

"I've got some real concerns," county commissioner John Wiley Price said at this Tuesday's Commissioner's Court meeting. "This is the second time that the website has gone down."

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Bentley Is an Extremely Cute Dog, But Tomorrow's Press Conference Is Insane

Dallas Animal Services
Maybe we should leave them alone.
As of Tuesday, Amber Vinson and Nina Pham, the two Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital nurses to get Ebola after treating Thomas Eric Duncan, are Ebola-free. It's remarkable, inspiring news. Seeing the two speak at their post-release press conference was, in a way, like seeing someone back from the dead.

Then there's Bentley. Bentley, as you surely know, is Pham's impish, year-old King Charles Spaniel. After Pham's diagnosis, he was taken from her Marquita Avenue duplex to be monitored for signs of Ebola at Hensley Field in Grand Prairie. The dog's now officially Ebola free, so he's going to be reunited with Pham tomorrow.

That's awesome.

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John Wiley Price "Knows What Happened" at Presbyterian in Ebola Case

Centers for Disease Control
Transmission electron micrograph of the Ebola virus
Just before heading into a private executive session to address what he called "security issues" related to the Ebola virus' arrival in Dallas, County Commissioner John Wiley Price told his fellow commissioners and County Judge Clay Jenkins what led to the temporary release of an Ebola-stricken Thomas Duncan from Dallas' Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

"We know what happened at Presbyterian whether we say it or not," Price said. "If a person who looks like me shows up without insurance, they don't get the same treatment."

The issues at Presbyterian, Price said, were the "elephant in the room."

See also: How About We Very Calmly Count the Failures on Ebola So Far? Calm Enough For You?

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Dallas County Will Experiment with Not Arresting People Caught with Marijuana

Flickr user Blind Nomad
Get caught with a joint in Dallas this afternoon and you'll find yourself being chauffeured to Lew Sterrett in the back of a squad car. Get caught with a joint in Dallas this January and you may well escape with a ticket and a stern admonition to show up in court.

The Dallas Morning News reported over the weekend that Dallas County will pilot a cite-and-release program next year allowing those caught with less than two ounces of marijuana, a Class B misdemeanor, to avoid a trip to jail.

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Clay Jenkins and Inmate Groups Push Dallas County to Stop Profiting from Jail Phone Calls

Andreas Praefcke
Dallas County Jail
They successfully fought contract provisions that would have banned in-person visits at the Dallas County jail while the county made money from new video visits. Now exonerated inmates, prison rights advocates and County Judge Clay Jenkins aim to make the county among the first in the nation to stop profiting off phone calls between jail inmates and their families.

See also: Dallas County Will Not Ban In-Person Visits for Inmates After All

About $3 million in the county's recently approved budget stands to come from surcharges applied to phone calls made to and from the jail, but Jenkins wants to change course and find the money elsewhere.

"What you've got is an irreconcilable conflict between our desire to make money off these poor families so we can balance our budget and our duty to lower crime and treat people fairly," Jenkins says.

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