First, I know people who have criminal records that do have real jobs. And secondly, this person has a late model car? WTH. I drive a 16 year old car, and work a full time job.
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Last week I got into a flame war on the blogs with Rudy Bush and Tod Robberson. They are editorial writers for The Dallas Morning News. We were arguing about the very controversial Jim's Car Wash in South Dallas, target of legislative investigations, police mobilizations and endless City Hall politics for more than a decade.
When I caught my breath, it occurred to me that Bush, Robberson and I were all probably having a pretty good time. Mud rasslin' is what we're paid to do, after all. It also occurred to me that something very important gets lost when the mud rasslers are busy putting on their show. I thought of Tomekia Jones.
I first met Jones, who is 33, and her mother, Wanda Joyce James, who is 55, a year ago when I was working on a story about people in South Dallas considered "not in the labor force" by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS says they are not technically unemployed, because they haven't had a regular job in a long time and are not looking for one. But they don't have jobs. They work, though.
Most of the people I interviewed who were in that status had criminal records that made it impossible for them to be hired by most companies. Companies say they can't get workplace insurance if they knowingly hire ex-cons. It's a trap that leaves millions of Americans fenced out of mainstream society for life just as effectively as if they were still in prison. Many of them return to crime.
Tomekia Jones declined to discuss her personal history with me when I met her. She was one of dozens of tough hearty souls I met on the streets of South Dallas who were making it anyway, finding a way to get income without breaking the law. She and her mother were doing it by putting in hard seven-day weeks at Jim's Car Wash cleaning other people's cars.
She told me: "Speaking for myself, and I can speak for some of these others as well, we are out here trying to work and make an honest living. We don't have to steal. We don't have to rob. We are out here working."
Her mother said, "I got everything to pay, food and everything. But I'm blessed. God blessed me with everything that I need, and I thank God for it. I don't suffer from nothing. I thank God for what he give me, and that's the miracle of being alive."
Last Sunday as I was leaving the car wash after reporting on a story there, Jones and I spotted each other in traffic. She backed up and rolled her window down. I wanted to know if she was one of the car washers targeted recently by police. She said yes. She agreed to return to the car wash with me to talk.
This is the real heart of what Bush, Robberson and I were flaming each other about. The car wash is a kind of social center where people who live in South Dallas gather, especially on weekends, to wash cars, eat barbecue, show off rims and generally have a good time. Black people. There are no white people at these events except for the owner of the car wash, Dale Davenport.
The mayor of Dallas, Mike Rawlings, has been frank with me in describing the car wash as a place that he thinks is frightening for people who use Martin Luther King Boulevard as the main approach to Fair Park and events held there. He believes there is a better and higher use for the property. He has been working through community leadership in South Dallas to find that use and a new owner.
Davenport and his father, Freddy Davenport, don't want to sell. They say the car wash is profitable for them. As the only white people along that whole stretch of MLK, they have no connections among black elected officials, but they are personally popular with the black, mainly poor populace who live nearby.
Initially Rawlings considered the use of eminent domain to get the land away from the Davenports, but he backed off quickly when he realized eminent domain is political poison in South Dallas. He told me he had been advised by the city attorney he could accomplish the same outcome through use of the city's nuisance ordinances.
That requires establishing a record of infractions to show that the car wash is a nuisance. Under the ordinance, once the city can deem the property a nuisance it can withdraw the car wash's zoning and shut down the Davenports' business.
That is what was going on that Sunday afternoon. It is what has been going on for months. Bush and Robberson are under the impression that repeated massive police mobilizations, including the barricading of the whole property, are aimed at routing out drug trafficking. But there have been only three drug arrests on the property in six years.
Meanwhile the mayor told me at the beginning of all this that he had asked Police Chief David Brown to mount a massive undercover operation at the car wash, and he said Brown had declined, explaining to him that there is not enough drug activity at the car wash to justify that use of resources.
First, I know people who have criminal records that do have real jobs. And secondly, this person has a late model car? WTH. I drive a 16 year old car, and work a full time job.
The conduct of our Nation's affairs always demands that public servants discharge their duties under the Constitution and laws of this Republic with fairness and a proper spirit of subservience to the people whom they are sworn to serve. Public servants cannot be arbitrarily selective in their treatment of citizens, dispensing equity to those who please them and withholding it from those who do not. Respect for the law can only be fostered if citizens believe that those responsible for implementing and enforcing the law are themselves acting in conformity with the law. -- William F. Downes, United States District Judge - Carol Ward v. United States 79 AFTR2d Par. 97-964 No. 95-WY-810-WD (2 Jun 1997)
There has to be a lawyer out there willing to file a class action on behalf of these people.
Where is the ACLU when you need them?
Emotions aside, you have unfortunately misrepresented and misstated the applicable law.
First of all, there is no Chapter 31 in the Dallas City Charter. You mean Chapter 31 of the Dallas City Code.
that is RACIST DALLAS , PURE AND CLEAR YOU GOT UNCLE TOM BLACKS CITY UP IN CITY HALL EVEN kissin the kkk and the arabics over at yellow cab who pays them under the table to let illigal africans with no green card drive cab , you dont see the city harrassing yellow cab? the same company that will not even hire african americans to drive a dam cab even .dallas police dept , and yellow cab are all in a conspiracy to discriminate against black communities . no one says shit about the fact yellow cab will not send cabs over in south dallas for pick ups !!! and thats ok with the city . if all the city is worried about is whites coming to fair park and having to pass black folks ? what does that say about who is sitting up at city hall ruling the rooste . abunch oaf black uncle tomes and racist whites . for sure
our community has not asked fora lot from city hall and since you cant and want advocate fair hireing in the city . then at least stay out of our communitiy running it like a plantation with police behaving like patty rollers on horse back in a cotten field . harrassing black folks all the time for trying to make a few dollars and the black cops in the city are used as shields in the same communities they went to school in , harrassing thieri own people behind abadge . its poor ethics im so glad the reporter at observer saw through their shit . no wonder some of these white business owner get away with descrimination all the time of patrons . dallas is the most racist city i have ever known . you dont hear about other citys allowing city hall to be bias ,they the city hall was behind that uber thing trying to protect their investment YELLOWCAB COMPANY A BUNCHE OF ARABIC WHO ARE RACIST AGAINST BLACKS FROM DALLAS SO THEY HIRE BLACKS FROM NIGERIA TO MAKE IT SEEMS LIKE THEY ARE NOT RACIST . and city hall allows this kind of hiring practice hiding behind i was glad uber moved in and cause them to loose a lot of drivers , stop them from thier illiegal hiring practices , now yellow cab started hiring amercans some ,cause uber hire women , and men americans mostly most of the foriegners dont speak english so who cab do you think the public will choose? the cab companys cowboy and yellow cab is a major pain on the communities from plano to ftworth they have the worst drivers in the cab .
so dallas city hall need to mind their own dam business and help yellow cab hire properly . and stop issueing fake id cards to forigners to help in crease yellow cabs income level
pitiful and discusting , when i read this story it sadden me ,cause for years blacks in dallas particularly south dallas has been the lower level of respect form police and city officials john wiley aint doing shit for his city but , try to loosen the noose round his own ni...ger neck
they got him scared as hell , we need to take badk our city. from the snakes and arabic riunning fraudulent cab companies and restuarant owners in down town trying to hire whites to keep black patrons from comeing there west end particularly one black man sued recently a restaurant down town that told him he couldnt come in but let white come in dressed any kind of way . racist blantantly we want stand for it .. that car wash owner respect black business now matter how small those people are not pan handleing if they are washing cars for a tip isnt that what the cab company do get tips .?
i swear dallas better get it together before cnn do a segment on the high calibur of high tech racism in dallas they hide behind the mask and hood .
most new comers to dallas has reportedly said they felt racist tension in the divison of the city and when they feel this they move away they ,moved that stadium to arlington for a reason dallas is embarrassing all they have is the kennedy center and that new park to attract anyone , what the fuck is west end ? in comparrson to new orleans and kansas city plaza? lol a joke .dallas city leaders need to do more than hound poor blacks to clean up the entrance to old broke down fair park ,should have been demolished 20 years ago . a cold sore even when the fair come to town , horrific sight big text and all , old red neck country look is horrible for a diverse city which dallas is not . they dont even want blacks to come to the fair for fear of looking like atlanta or which altlanta blacks dont get treat indifferent and told they make the city look bad . i feel sorry for blacks in dallas they have literally no voice at all , i hope the car wash owner sue the hell out of them for discrimianation and inhumanity of police brutality . they tried to strong arm uber and got shut the fuck down uber is a billion dollar industry i promise you they would have put dallas on cnn news so they drew back . city hall and yellow cab sat the hell down and left uber alone . not ubers fault cause the choice dallas to bring more jobs to black people and ethnics lol dallas city hall sure wasnt trying to hire black cab drivers . from america so be it but . they all need to be fired !!! at city hall all of them .starting with the police chief on down the line to the all of them and clean house the city would prosper with the right officials to stop all the racist divison they only tryed to clean up some of south dallas because of fair park not for the people who live there . this is sad
This whole thing makes me sick, because nowhere in this is ANYONE asking the real question: why aren't we down at city hall with pitchforks and torches over such an obvious abuse of police power? They're writing tickets they know are bogus. With zero evidence. So there's not a single honest judge in the city? Not a single honest prosecutor? Nobody anywhere in the government willing to step up, blow the whistle, and call this what it is?
Why is Schutze the only person talking about this?
And that's why I'm NEVER living inside Dallas city limits. I may start working there soon, and I'm honestly worried I'll have my life screwed up in some way by some bogus city hall boondoggle or personal power play. I love the city, but man...I've never heard of such open lawlessness.
I sympathize with the situation that the folks who offer to clean cars are in. And I appreciate that the owners welcome them. And the city's "crackdown" on all of these folks is clearly aimed at shutting down the business
That being said, there exists an option that I haven't seen discussed. Why doesn't the car wash hire these folks as employees, or at least bring them in as 1099 contractors? Then they could collectively tell the city to kiss their butts. And I would note that this approach has worked well for over 50 years at the Car Bath on Garland Road in east Dallas.
Side thought: Is their an attorney out there who would represent these folks for a reduced fee? I'd contribute $100 to their defense in a heartbeat.
Sounds like the not-so-old days of Dixie. People arrested on pretext for crimes that don't really exist, forced to work for nothing for the City to pay off their fines.
Why is Jim reporting on this? They're doing it to the car wash; any day they want, they can come do it to you. One of the reasons for a Free Press (at least in theory), is to shine a light on the actions of those in authority. Nuke, if you don't like the reporting, you can take your eyes elsewhere, and no one would be the wiser ........
Why do you care so much about "Jim's car wash"? What about the residents that live nearby that think the car wash is an eyesore and a nuisance, did you interview them? Do they have a right to say what is a healthy business in their neighborhood? Your reporting is patronizing to blacks, particularly those that panhandle at the car wash. Did you interview any black business owners on MLK Boulevard? How bout the Black Chamber of Commerce, they are located on MLK Boulevard. In order to be fair and balanced in your reporting you need to report both sides of the issue. They teach that in Journalism 101 in most credible university's school of journalism.
Jim, you interviewed that lady for 45 minutes. Did she wash your car? Did you pay her?
Must be a slow news day. Anything to sell a paper, right? Jim, since you care so much about "Jim's car wash", why don't you find a location for "Jim's Carwash" to move to close to you when it gets shut down? I know you don't them "that close" to you.
@holmantx Well said. Now free all of the wrongly convicted in this nations prison system!
@Adam What is a solicitation? Does the owner's sign out front count? What if the owner is on the property and audibly telling people where they may put their money in the machines if they want a car wash? What if he also offers ancillary services for a fee? What if he contracts out those services to independent contractors?
In response to Adam above: All this effort -- and your efforts are welcome here -- but you fail to address the center of it, which is the definition of solicitation. Please, have another go at it. We will read with interest: how do you get labor for pay under the umbrella of the definition of panhandling in the ordinance, and isn't that definition the motor that makes all of the rest of it go?
They are independent contractors who offer exterior detailing for a fee. The owner of the property and operator of the coin-operated car wash business has, by written agreement, allowed this additional service as an adjunct to his provided service. Both parties to the contract have told code enforcement but the City has deployed the Dallas Police Department to provoke and intimidate the operator of the business and the patrons instead of simply writing them a code violation, like grass that needs to be mowed why?
Because a code violation would be easy to get dismissed in municipal court when the property owner objects under the code you cite.
Bottom line - it's a legal use of the property under the code because the owner allows it and it's part of the service he provides. It's a listed use under that zoning.
And no amount of what would otherwise be laughable tap dancing by the City changes the reality of it.
It is disgraceful what the City is doing in this case and one can only hope that they get ripped a new one for their efforts.
The only question I have is what is motivating this? Jesus! Is this some weird automaton accidentally set in motion by a system that has no mechanism to stop or are there humans pushing it along? Are we to believe that it is the system itself that is attacking the Davenports?
Because if this ugly dust up is being driven by private interests or elected officials they need to step out into the light.
Otherwise we drag them out.
And it sounds like the Mayor knows who it is. Because he is acting out of character. Like the cop, he looks embarrassed, hiding behind his duty.
@xdarkridex you are not at city hall protesting cause dallas police will shut you down before your on the evening news. thats why they work together dallas police and city hall are pals , so anytime injustice is on blacks the city hall treat them like its 1050s again , the black community has no voice at all, blacks are wrongfully shot all the time over in oak cliff and south dallas the city try to cover it up by paying for the wrong doing before the black family go to al sharpen or the black panther party with it lmao so they know what to do , they cover up their lies if they have to do it every time a tragedy against a black family occurs the do that pay out . hush money keep the media out of MY CITY MONEY! THERE FORTHE FAMILYS DONT BRING OUT THE INJUSTICE OF A FLAWED CITY. SYSTEM
Did you read the article? These are not the sort of folk with permanent addresses and likely do not have bank accounts. Ex-cons, mostly-homeless, etc. Many work when they need cash and then stop for a bit. Not 9-5 employee stock. And what are they going to do with a 1099?
The whole legit independent contractor gig is fine for folks that can manage to set up a C-corp and all the attendant paperwork and such. Not so good for someone who may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer but still has the morality and motivation to provide for themselves.
@ThatOneGuyInDallas Your comment regarding hiring the panhandlers is my sentiment exactly. Jim Davenport is a poacher and taker not a giver! He has not produced one job. I know, but he let's them wash other peoples cars, and sell dope and stolen merchandise at midnight, 1am, 2am, 3am. Good businessman my ass!!!!!!
@ThatOneGuyInDallas paperwork, government control and tax collection. why should the Davenports do that?
Heck, he's been here and no one is the wiser...
@halldecker Go straight to hell! I don't have to agree with this bullshit! You take your ass elsewhere!
Just do this one little line for me: my reporting is patronizing to blacks, particularly to those who pahandle at the car wash.
@nuke I'll take the bait. No, the neighbors don't have a right to say what is a healthy business in their neighborhood. If the use is legal, and properly zoned, any shutting down of a business because some people in the neighborhood regard it as a nuisance is simply government-sponsored theft. Same idea applies if the zoning is changed out from under the owner. If the neighbors don't like what is going on there, I'm sure Mr. Davenport would be glad to entertain offers for the property. Or the city could buy it from him, on a willing buyer / willing seller basis. Or even offer him an inducement to change the property use. Remember, the next business the city goes after could be yours.
Did you interview any black business owners on MLK Boulevard?
you mean the business owners near Jim's Car Wash that are happy to sell goods to the people who earn a living at Jim"s Car Wash by washing people's cars?
I bet they are very eager to keep as many people working and earning a buck so these businesses can stay open....they don't view Jim"s Car Wash as an "eyesore and a nuisance", I'd wager they see it as a contributor to their viability. Without customers, these folks who earn money at Jim's, these businesses would have fewer sales...
@JimSX What about the day laborers that hang out at familiar street corners in Dallas looking to do odd jobs or daily work for pay? Should the city also be giving them citations for solicitation as well? They're just hanging out waiting for someone to drive up and offer them work. Same as the people at the car wash. Aside from the car wash owner giving these folks permission to hang out on his property, what's the difference?
@pak152 To save their business. If the appeal of the business is largely based on the freelancers' services this is a logical path to keep these folks there.
I would note that the paperwork, tax collection, etc. isn't a big deal. I own a small business, and like tens of thousands of businesses throughout the Dallas area I manage to muddle through it; really it requires minimal effort given the benefits. In addition from what I've read these folks seem like they'd most likely get classified as 1099 contractors - the paperwork for that is even simpler.
I think this arrow got pretty near the bullseye.
@JimSX You're damn right! Your reporting seems to portray those poor black panhandlers in South Dallas can't find a job, let them beg for money sell dope and stolen goods at midnight, 1am, 2am, 3am at the white man's car wash who doesn't live anywhere close by and won't hire any of them!
Why doesn't Mr. Davenport hire one of those poor black pan handlers to manage that car wash since he's making so much money on it? You portray him as some sort of messiah because he allows people to panhandle at his car wash! Pathetic! That car wash will be shut down by the end of this year!
@lftay @nuke Interesting comments! Well let's see there is a proposed Sam's for City Place and the residents of City Place get to say whether they want it or not. Oh and there is a proposed highrise for Preston Hollow and the citizens object to it and get a say in it.
Then there is Jim's car wash in South Dallas, and according to you the neighbors don't get to have a say in what sort of business gets to operate in their community! Totally biased! Completely clueless! I see the disparity. It's a shame that you don't! Perhaps you have selective perception, you see what you want to see!
@lftay @nuke I've never seen this sort of reporting of a business of any kind in any other part of the city! Where is the balance in the reporting? Why don't you interview the other business owners and residents that live nearby. Probably because you would find a whole new perspective. They want that car wash gone!
@mavdog So, you, along with Jim, are just guessing. Because you guys know what is best, right?
You never answered why you did not interview the residents that live near this car wash to get their perspective. You don't want to be fair and balanced. You would rather create an illusion of a conspiracy when none exists!
Report the truth Jim. Interview both sides and let the readers decide who's right and who's wrong. Not you, you wrote the damn story the way you wanted it to read!
@council7 @JimSX I can say this after reading ALL the posts in this thread. It seems to me that the opinions ON the part of the readers is WAY towards the STORY and NOT those who are bashing IT. @JimSX Your story is well written and properly portrayed to the point made. The rest of you who are TRYING to be critics should take a look at ALL od Jims writing. He is more of a writer than ANY of you hacks who just want to be seen and flame the local blogs and such. Have a wonderful day and be blessed in all you do.
not accurate to say "guessing", it is a certainty that the business owners along MLK are very much supportive of their customer base having money to spend in their stores.
as for "know what is best", that remark is very wide ranging. know "what is best" for the community? yes, having members of the community working and earning a living is best for its success/viability.
know "what is best" for the people who work at Jim's? nope, can't say.
know "what is best" for the Davenports? nope, can't say.
know "what is best" for the City of Dallas? yes, stop abusing the law by harrassing the Davenports and those who are trying to earn a living at the car wash.
@nuke @TheCredibleHulk @council7 @halldecker
This is a private forum, offered by the Dallas Observer, at its sole discretion. Of course, there is no 'right' to post here, there is no 'freedom of speech' here. While the Observer is allowing angry jackasses to demonstrate they have no grasp of the issues involved, they can revoke that at any time.
You may benefit from reading A Child's First Book of Constitutional Law.
And, of course I have the right to suggest you go elsewhere.
@dhthrush @council7 @lftay @nuke It does not matter! The residents in the community get a voice on "proposed" businesses as well as "operating" businesses to say if they will be or have been good for the neighborhood. I get it, residents that live in South Dallas don't have a right to express themselves or decide what they want or don't want in their community, right?
@TheCredibleHulk @council7 @lftay @nuke If the Davenports think they are being shaken down, then sue the city! The Davenports won't sue because they know that they have been tolerating panhandling, dope dealing, fencing stolen merchandise. They don't want to take a deposition!
Ask the Davenports why they have not hired one person to manage that car wash.