By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Home to roost: First off, Buzz apologizes to U.S. Attorney Richard Roper and his cohorts for ever hinting in this space that the feds' investigation into alleged corruption at City Hall was taking too long. As the release of indictments Monday accusing 16 people of various counts of bribery, extortion, embezzlement and money laundering suggests, preparing a massive bill of charges is like cooking a great dish. It takes time to get all the ingredients just right.
Second off, we have some advice for former city council member James Fantroy, accused of embezzling money from Paul Quinn College while he was on the school's board. Fantroy was quoted in the The Dallas Morning News that the upcoming trials will be "the biggest mess since O.J." Um, Mr. Fantroy? It generally behooves criminal defendants not to make comparisons to O.J., since he's widely believed to have gotten away with murder.
Fantroy's point, of course, was the same tired old point he's made before, that this case is about race, since most of the defendants, including former city council member and mayoral candidate Don Hill, are black. The Morning News added its two bits to that discussion with a story headlined "A cloud over Dallas' black politics."
But we wonder: What cloud? Let's say for the sake of argument that the three politicians indicted—Hill, Fantroy and state Representative Terri Hodge—are guilty. Wouldn't the U.S. attorney's case be removing a cloud from black politics? What sort of perverse state have we reached here in which a handful of black pols and fixers are accused of crimes and their behavior is a greater reflection on the entire black political community than the many black public servants who do their jobs without being indicted? Do Hill and Fantroy represent their race? More likely they represent a certain type of politician, one who puts his own interests above his community's. But, hey, cheer up, black people. We have lots of those people playing on the white team too. Sometimes, they even get indicted. The notion that every black politician somehow is a representative of his entire race is a sucker's game that plays into the hands of racists.
True story, by way of example: Buzz's father once asked a random black acquaintance, who had no relationship with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, "So, where does the NAACP get its money?" The guy was black. Dad figured he'd know.
Dad was, sad to say, a bigot. But if you automatically assume the case against those indicted at City Hall concerns more than their individual behavior, you might be too.