Southern Dallas, especially the ministerial leadership, seems to be pretty locked up behind mayoral candidate Mike Rawlings. In explaining that to myself, I do allow for Rawlings's charismatic personality and his track record on community issues. He's got things going for him. (Well, maybe not today.)
But there is also a whole back-story here people just don't get. I was on the radio earlier this week with longtime civil rights leader the Reverend Marion Barnett, pastor of Heavenly Joy Missionary Baptist Church, and I realized from some of the call-in comments that people do not understand the role of the John Wiley Price/Perot family connection in the Rawlings candidacy.
Worse, many people in southern Dallas don't understand who and what Price has become in their community.
One reason Rawlings is running for mayor is that he was recruited to do so by Price and by state Senator Royce West, who are adamantly opposed to the candidacy of city council member Ron Natinsky. I don't know why. And I am not telling you that their support defines Rawlings. I think Rawlings is bigger than that.
But southern Dallas does need to take a whole new look at Price and the mega-preachers he works with. A long hard look.
I have written about Price since forever. Back in his radical days I was one of his greatest admirers, but the fact is that Price is now a handmaiden to the Perot family and its interests at the Alliance Airport inland port in Fort Worth.
As such, Price worked hard behind the scenes to gum up, slow down and generally sabotage the development of an inland port in southern Dallas, even though the Dallas project offers 63,000 new high-paying jobs -- the single biggest promise of economic development in the entire history of southern Dallas.
The Perot interests have been candid in describing the proposed shipping center as a direct competitor with Alliance, especially in the competition for government dollars. Price, closely tied to the Perots through his main political operative, Kathy Nealy, hit the Dallas inland port with everything he had.
He held up a key bridge project, demanded redundant time-consuming planning activities and accused the main developer of bad faith in minority hiring even though the developer's minority participation rate was more than 10 times that of Austin Bridge and Road, a locally owned and politically favored company for whom Price had no criticism whatever.
Price told me frankly that he didn't care about the promise of jobs. His official line, in both on-air radio statements and in letters at the time, was, "During slavery everybody had a job."
The kind of "economic development" Price pursues now, with the help of a lot of the southern Dallas mega-preachers, is economic development that goes straight into their own and their friends' pockets.
Don't let me mince words here. Price is a Judas. He is the betrayer of his own.
A week ago Shawn Williams, proprietor of a blog called Dallas South News, published an item about how he had been invited to go on a helicopter ride with Rawlings, Ross Perot Jr. and lobbyist-public works contractor Willis Johnson.
Williams reported that they toured all the good stuff in southern Dallas -- a mega-church and the UNT campus, for example. "Perot then headed south to get a look at the inland port in the Wilmer/Huchins area then back towards downtown," Williams wrote.
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"As we traveled up Interstate 45 we began to see the scrapyards. Rawlings referred to the businesses as 'heavy dirty industry' that's not neighborhood friendly."
Yeah, and plus that, industry is associated with slavery, right?
As I said on the radio, I don't expect anybody in southern Dallas to take my word on this stuff. People need to start asking their own questions. I would only ask that they remember my word.