City Hall

City Audit Comes at Bad Time for Dwaine Caraway, Who Got a Deal on Cheap Electronics

Most of the stuff contained in the Dallas City Auditor's report about naughtiness and potential naughtiness by the outgoing members of the Dallas City Council last summer isn't particularly galling. That Tenell Atkins and Vonciel Jones Hill both had outstanding balances on their city of Dallas water accounts when they were term-limited out of office is hard to turn into a big deal. Stuff happens, and the amounts in question — $156.44 for Atkins and $58.74 Hill — aren't enough to say anything meaningful about the legacies of the southern Dallas representatives.

Sure, East Dallas' Sheffie Kadane should've paid the $837.14 in property taxes he hadn't paid before Auditor Craig Kinton issued his report, but anyone who saw Kadane at a council or committee meeting knows he probably just forgot to pay — and, reportedly, he took care of things on Friday after the memo came out anyway. It would've been better had the council members followed procedure and turned in their two-weeks' notices, as they are required to do by the city, so all this stuff would've been taken care of, but they didn't. That's fine, the city will be made whole for the unpaid bills.

The part of the the report that probably has the most weight is the revelation that multiple council members, including Hill, Kadane and Dwaine Caraway, also bought electronics and other property with city funds to take home after their terms were over. None of the items, according to Kinton's report, went through the process that would've determined how much the council members actually should've paid for the items. For Caraway especially, that's not good. The former mayor is just over a month away from trying to take down Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price in the March 1 Democratic primary. The potential success of Caraway's campaign largely hinges on how much stock voters put in the federal corruption investigation against Price, and now Caraway is popping up in city documents getting 80-odd percent discounts on stuff bought with city money.

According to Kinton, none of the items on the chart were bought using appropriate city procedures. There were no attempts made to "transfer, auction or sell the items at the city store."

Caraway did not return our request for a comment on this story, but he told The Dallas Morning News that he agreed with the audit's findings. The procedure for buying the used goods was the problem, he said.

“It’s not like there’s any back and forth,” Caraway told the News. “You ask, ‘How much is it, let me know, because we’re coming to the end.’ And it’s up to city staff to give you the procedure, make the valuation — as they did — and tell you what your responsibilities are after that, and then you deal with it. But, look, you can pay $400 for a television at Best Buy and you can find the same television in the pawn shop — especially after it’s been used — for $50, so who knows the depreciated value of certain things?”