Kickback City

You wouldn't believe how bad Dallas looks in Austin

Hodge alluded to a competing car wash owned by an ally of Chaney. She said Chaney had leaned on Davenport to contribute money to certain community organizations. "You see, they try to designate who he hires, who he pays and how much. Well, Mr. Davenport went along with that for a while, but it became a big problem."

I've had my own run-ins with Terri Hodge over allegations of vote fraud. She did not return my calls for this story. I'm not presenting her here as the gold standard of credibility.

Chaney was asked to appear before the committee but declined. He spoke to me and denied that he had brought any undue pressure on the Davenports, although he did acknowledge that he sometimes encourages businesses in his district to contribute to worthy causes.

The city of Dallas blames Freddy Davenport, left, and his son Dale Davenport for the high crime rate in the South Dallas neighborhood around their car wash.
Mark Graham
The city of Dallas blames Freddy Davenport, left, and his son Dale Davenport for the high crime rate in the South Dallas neighborhood around their car wash.

"I do believe in partnerships," Chaney told me. "I do believe the corporate folk that do business and earn millions of dollars in the community ought to give back. As far as shaking people down for personal gain, that's outrageous.

"That's not true, that's not true at all. This is just some vicious politics going down."

But as citizens of Dallas, we need to put ourselves in the place of these legislators, who are from Houston, Austin, Pasadena, Plano and around the state, and try to imagine what impression is created by this kind of testimony.

The committee was amazed and obviously infuriated by the testimony of an assistant Dallas city attorney, Jennifer Richie, who described with evident pride how she had successfully sued the Davenports on the basis of crimes on and near their property. The crimes counted against the Davenports as evidence of their low character included 911 calls they had made for help, the murder of a man who died next door and the discovery by police that a guy wiping down cars for pocket money at the car wash had marijuana in his pocket.

The members of the committee were incredulous and seemed at times on the verge of bitter laughter. Representative Joe Nixon, a Houston Republican who chairs the committee, asked Richie: "Mr. Davenport didn't kill anybody, did he?"

"No, he didn't," she said.

"He's running a car wash, right? Does he want people killed on his property?"

"I would hope he doesn't," she said grudgingly.

"Well, now, do you think he wants drug deals on his property?"

"I would hope he doesn't."

I looked at a transcript of the Davenports' trial, by the way, in which the city of Dallas prevailed against them. The city persuaded a Dallas judge to slam them with hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of special security requirements that no small business could possibly afford and stay in business. I want you to hear something that a Dallas judge told 70-year-old Freddy Davenport to do when he's down there on MLK at night trying to keep his business open and deal with the wretched multitude of crack addicts who live in the fields and abandoned buildings nearby.

Please. Just look at this. This is what Judge David Evans in the 193rd District Court told the Davenports to do to deal with the crime problem around them. Exact quotation:

"But, I mean, if they want to give it a go and--where they have, like, an on-site manager and they equip that person with a pretty good water hose and a cell phone so that, you know, in the middle of the night, somebody starts congregating out there and that person steps out of some sort of mobile home or trailer or RV or something and starts--decided that that's the time that they just decide they want to clean down their property, it's their property. And if the drug dealers are standing around getting sprayed while the person's on 911 on a cell phone, that the drug dealers can't stop because they can't--the person may be--if it's a big enough crowd, they may be prevented from or scared to go to the pay phone at the front of the place. But you know, walking around with a spray hose, you know, watering down their pavement or the rest of their property, you know, maybe people won't stay there. Maybe it will be such a hassle, they'll go somewhere else."

Judge David Evans wants 70-year-old Freddy Davenport to cleanse his portion of Martin Luther King Boulevard of drug dealers by spraying them with a water hose.

I just don't know what to say. Is there something in the water in our city that causes people in positions of power, authority and responsibility to be complete morons? What kind of totally separated-from-reality golf-course goofball could even allow a speech like that to escape his lips, let alone on the record, let alone from the bench, wearing a black robe?

Imagine it. The shootout at the Car Wash Corral. Here comes Freddy Davenport. Squish! He squirts water all over those crack dealers! Pause of 1.5 seconds. Next: roar of gunfire roughly equivalent to what American soldiers faced when landing at Normandy on D-Day. Finally: pathetic squirting sound--the gush of water from a car wash wand to clean off the spot where Mr. Davenport used to be.

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