By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Don't let the doorknob...: Oh, such warm, moist sighs of sadness swept the city last week over the end of state Representative Terri Hodge's political life. What a shame. What a tragedy.
What a load of crap.
Quick show of hands, readers. Before she pleaded guilty to federal tax fraud charges last week as part of the long-running Dallas City Hall corruption scandal, did any of you think that she might be clean in the scheme to extract bribes from low-cost housing developers?
We thought not.
So off she goes into the sunset—and perhaps the federal pen. Another corrupt pol is drummed out of a job. What are we supposed to do about that, cry?
Her plea makes her ineligible to hold office, though her name will stay on the March 2 primary ballot for District 100. Theoretically, she could still take the most votes in the primary, which would then throw the selection of the Democratic candidate to the district's 45 or so precinct chairs, though politically savvy sources tell Buzz that's not likely to happen.
Too bad, because watching the backroom deals being cut among the precinct types would be pretty entertaining.
The real shame is that Hodge took her plea before the primary. Watching an indicted Hodge square off against her primary opponent Eric Johnson would have told us a lot about the voters in her southern Dallas district. Are they as jaded and cynical as the political elites who lined up to endorse Hodge before she agreed to plead guilty (and who spent much of last week gently tiptoeing away from her as if she emitted a bad smell)? There was always something creepily patronizing about the smart people, many of them white, who lined up behind Hodge even though the evidence of her corruption was pretty clear.
A straight-up primary between her and Johnson—minus the big asterisk the guilty plea places on the vote—would have been a good chance for voters to tell their "leaders" that however nice a lady Hodge is, they prefer honest government.
Johnson is pretty confident about how that vote might have gone. He's spent countless hours knocking on doors in the district, running a grassroots campaign, and he apparently has a lot more confidence in District 100 voters than all the folks who lined up to endorse Hodge.
"Voters in southern Dallas are not stupid," he tells Buzz. "They don't like corruption either. Our voters are no different than voters everywhere."