By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Pauline Medrano, who represents District 2 in downtown and West Dallas, explained that she has been developing an overlay map of economic generators and large investments, public and private, in her district—everything from mega-churches to libraries. She wants to see if the city is investing its capital improvement budget in areas where there is a potential for critical mass.
Tennell Atkins, who represents District 8 in far southeast Dallas, also has a large map on his wall. He spent part of one afternoon showing me the links he hopes to help forge between big-box retail, the new University of North Texas campus, warehousing operations and other employment centers, all of which may feed new residential and mixed-use commercial development in the area.
The dean of the southern sector caucus on the council is Mayor Pro Tem Elba Garcia, who has represented District 1 in North Oak Cliff since 2001. Garcia's take on southern sector politics and the job of council members falls somewhere between big picture and small animal. She has a broad, long-range view of what southern Dallas needs, but she also knows that Caraway is on to something when he screws down the focus to something like animal control.
"Dogs, dead or alive, are the No. 1 complaint from constituents," she told me when I called about Caraway.
Today while I ride around with Caraway and Davis in the possible pursuit of crack houses, they have especially sharp eyes out for dogs.
"Pit bulls, D," Davis calls out at one point. "We got pit bulls!"
The dogs are chained in a back yard, but there are hints of other things going on. Caraway spots an empty metal chair at the end of a grass alley. He says these are signs of outdoor drug sales.
"You see the chair? They sit there. They'll be out here. It's just cold for them now."
We have left the boring media event at the boarded-up crack house and are now on to another challenge, which has yet to be divulged to me.
What I can't believe is that Mayor Leppert is still following us. A Dallas police officer is driving him in an SUV, and somewhere behind Leppert are a couple of squad cars and a car carrying the city attorney. I don't know if Leppert knows where we are going either.
Caraway is talking to some lady on one of his cells:
"I'm en route over here on Exeter," he tells her. "I got an entourage with me now. Tell me, what am I looking for when I get over there?
"Got a candy shop selling beer," Caraway says. "Now, how certain are we on the beer? Now what about the drug side of it?"
Caraway tells me: "We are going to a little candy house where they hang out. A lot of them are little felons... When these people tell me there's a drug house I got to listen to them."
It sounds as if this is going to be a kind of impromptu drug raid by Caraway and the mayor. The mayor is going to play a supporting role in the Dwaine Caraway Show, and that obviously is a lot of what Caraway gets from him. Depending on what's really going on, the mayor's devotion to him may be quite remarkable. If this really is a raid on a typical crack house, then I guess the mayor is willing to give his life to Councilman Caraway.
Riding shotgun in Caraway's car, I, on the other hand, am not. Also, it occurs to me that I do not like the phrase, "riding shotgun."
Nuzzling his cell, Caraway whispers to the lady on the phone: "You stand on your porch and watch, because in 30 seconds, you're going to see an entourage passing you by. The mayor is with me too."
After a beat, he repeats. "I say the mayor is with me too."
And there she is on the porch, waving. This is being done pretty much the opposite of the way the cops do it. Cops sneak up.
He pulls up in front of a house that is typical of the area—not caved-in, fairly upright and weatherproof, but with obvious indications of inattention including a broken toilet in the mud out front and random wrought iron scattered willy-nilly, as if someone was trying to invent something and gave up.
Caraway doesn't climb out of his car but seems to float into the air with the smooth physical grace of a heavyweight boxer. A big man clad in dark suit and fashionable shades, he could be almost anyone pulling up in front of this little house. If I were inside peering out, I might guess anything from Publisher's Clearing House to Grim Reaper.
But what would a person inside make of the next car to arrive? Mayor Leppert, a spry 53-year-old silver-haired white man in a tight-fitting suit, climbs out, like a daddy long-legs jumping off a log.
Caraway waves him over, and the two walk toward the front door, Caraway in the lead. "I'm going to go up and talk to these people."