The Dallas Corruption Scandal
A sweeping City Hall corruption probe that has produced federal charges against a dozen black civic and political leaders is renewing suspicions of racism in a city with a long history of combative minority relations… Sixteen people - 12 of them black - were named in corruption indictments unsealed this week. Most of them were charged in what the FBI said was a kickback and bribery scheme involving the awarding of contracts to white developers to build affordable housing, mostly in black neighborhoods… Among the blacks indicted are a former City Council member, a former city planner, businessmen, state Rep. Terri Hodge of Dallas, and former Mayor Pro Tem Don Hill, who was considered a front-runner for mayor in June but was hurt by the investigation. He was defeated in the first round of elections. Four white developers were also charged. (Source: “Dallas indictment raises race issues”, Star-Telegram, Thursday, October 04, 2007)
Oh horror of horrors! Black officials and white bribers, again I should be shocked.
Normally, I leave Dallas to the crazies, given the city’s recent history in race relations. But before the cow jumps over the moon, I gotta say: “Woo! Wait a minute.” How did this get to be a race-bait investigation and incrimination?
“I refuse to subscribe that this was racially motivated,” said Michael Sorrell, president of the city's historically black Paul Quinn College. “But given all the factors, what is the statistical likelihood of producing that ratio?”
I am not a particular fan of the FBI because of the dark legacy of J. Edgar Hoover. But I must admit the agency has some pretty good bloodhounds, and these guys don’t move in for the kill with this kind of widespread Mafioso roundup unless they smell corruption.
I am the last person qualified to go in and condemn what may very well be “good, legitimate police work”. If I must do time for my own crime, let every lawbreaker’s chips lay upon the pyres of justice. Let the guilty be punished and the innocent go free, no matter the color of their skin.
What befuddles me is not the long list of prominent Dallas blacks now cast under a cloud of criminal suspicion. I have seen this movie before- many, many times- especially in the area of federal housing where there is a high concentration of black professionals. Even the City of Fort Worth has its own housing scandal and rumors of favoritism, sweetheart contracts, and kickbacks. What confounds me is the scenario of white rats and black mice, where the black mice eat the cheese and the white rats turn state evidence. These are the words of a former black outlaw who knows something about the tricks and the traps of the white double-cross. (And, you would think the next black mouse coming along would realize that the green cheese is bait).
I have warned many of my brothers and sisters in offices to beware of the “Dirty Dollar” from bribe artists. Sometimes it’s not always cash, like in the case of the Louisiana congressional representative who stashed $90,000 in his freezer. Sometimes it is as innocuous as the loan of a company car or a rent-free apartment. Looks innocent and legal enough, but if you accept gifts from Greeks, the hook is in the mouth for good. One illegal transaction obligates the benefactor to a lifetime of bribe-taking.
But this is not simply a hook in the Dallas investigation. It’s a net, and a pretty wide dragnet, at that. It looks like 12 maze-bound black mice and 4 dirty white rats. Now who bribed whom, and who is going to be prosecuted, defamed, and sent to prison?
Don’t you know it? Somebody is going to sing like the songbird of Alcatraz, and I bet there will not be but maybe one black snitch among them.
Before we get hyped up on the race thing, we need to follow the bloodhound’s scent. Did someone get entrapped, or was this another infamous “sting operation”? I bet somebody is asking how in the world they got themselves into this trap.
Looking at the illustrious careers of these African-Americans, the last thing they probably expected while on their way to college degrees and high salaried positions was to end up in handcuffs. No, this was more than a fall from power and loss of esteem. It was a disgrace in the eyes of black admirers who looked upon these leaders as “role models”. Graciously, they al made bail arrangements before being arrested, otherwise we would have to endure the shame of their being carted away in handcuffs, like ENRON’s Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling.
What irk me are the white contractors- kickbacks and bribery- and how unfair it makes the field of business deal-making. While minority businesspeople go to city leaders every day on their hands and knees begging for contracting opportunities, trying to play the game by the rules, there are white businessmen going through the back door and undermining the selection process with gifts, grafts, bribes, and kickbacks.
This is how America does business every day. And, when things go afoul, the bribery rats jump ship, and leave the little black mice to sink or swim. I’ve been there. I’ve been offered money to bribe black elected officials on behalf of white contractors. I’ve been offered money to fabricate financial records in order for a Mexican national to file back taxes and become a US citizen. Criminal solicitation is a crime, but do I report it? No. Why? Because no crime is committed, in my book, until a conspiracy goes into effect, and I know all too well how the devil gets his hands into your pockets… Good Heavens! I’ve lived on both sides of the law and I know how criminal schemers think.
Like the Godfather said about an “offer that cannot be refused”, in the crime world they say that every man has a price. And, they truly believe in finding it if “the mark” holds public office.
Getting out of the trap is another thing, once in. White rats will give up grandma before they do hard time, but black mice will wonder for daze how they got into this maze.
To confound the issue, the newspaper raises the “race issue”- for what? We need to know more about how the trap was fixed and how it was sprung.