Our Gang: Welcome Dallas County Government, Where Interfering with the FBI is Part of the Job
I think of everything the wrong way, from a skewed perspective. Who knows why? Maybe I got dropped on my head as a baby. But here's how I'm looking at this deal in which Dallas County Judge Craig Jenkins fired the security lady who wouldn't sweep for FBI bugs in the home of a county employee under federal investigation.
The county says it's going to do a national search for a replacement for the security expert they just canned. So I'm worried. How will they advertise the job?
WANTED: Security expert for major urban county in Southwest. Must be highly trained with solid experience in field, able to shake off federal jakes when top county employees suspected of shit. Must dress real sharp, no hippies. Jailhouse tats OK, in fact preferred.
Lisa Chambers at the Mavericks' downtown victory parade, to which she helped Clay Jenkins hitch his wagon.
I'm looking at Jack Fink's great story last night on Channel 11 about the firing of Dallas County's director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Lisa Chambers. Apparently she was too much of a Goody Two-Shoes for Dallas County. She told Fink she was fired after refusing to carry out a sweep to check for FBI devices in the home of Dapheny Fain, administrative assistant to Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price. The homes of both Price and Fain were tossed by the FBI last June as part of an ongoing federal corruption investigation.
Chambers didn't want to do the anti-federal job for Fain on the county's dime. She showed Fink an email in which she had told county officials to Google "1-800 House Sweep" if they wanted somebody to check Fain's house for bugs. I did Google "1 800 house sweep," by the way, and got an ad for chimney sweeps. They also do dryer vents.
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County Judge Craig Jenkins -- a man best summarized as Price's sock puppet -- said he fired Chambers because of "performance issues." Yeah. We know what that means, eh?
I checked this morning with Robert Webster, an attorney with Fitzpatrick Hagood Smith & Uhl, who was until 2007 chief of the criminal division in the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. We did not talk about the use of county funds or personnel to do a sweep of Fain's house, but he said that generally speaking Fain would have been entirely within her rights to search for and remove listening devices from her own home.
He pointed out that the bugs, if found, would not have little labels on them saying Federal Government Property. So who knows who put them there? Meanwhile a person has a right to protect the privacy of his or her home.
"I can tell you if somebody was eavesdropping in your house, looking through a window at your wife, I'd say something about that," Webster said. "Wouldn't you?"
If it was the feds? Maybe not. If they could assure me I personally would not become a target, I might try not to get involved. But back to my personal bent on the fired security lady at Dallas County.
How do they hire her replacement? I'm trying to imagine the job interview.
"You got nice ankles, sweetheart."
"Yeah, keep dreamin'. Little Dime said you had a job for me."
"We have a federal situation, if you know what I mean."
"I know what you mean. So what's my piece?"
"Sweep out the bugs, girl. Can you do that for us?"
"Yeah, no shit I can do that. Why do you think Little Dime sent me over? So what's my cut?"
"How would you like to be the owner of a genuine Bentley automobile?"
"Forget that shit. I don't want no chump change. I want to be a top political adviser to the mayor."
The important thing for the county to worry about is continuity. How can they find someone who will be a good fit with the existing institutional culture in county government? In addition to technical and professional qualifications, they need to find someone who will be compatible with county leadership at a personal and moral level.
Judge Jenkins might want to consider posting this and other future county openings on bathroom walls, or maybe on the windows of bail bond offices. I'm just thinkin' out loud here.
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