All Hail John Wiley Price, the King of Dallas County, Ruler of All He Surveys

I watched that video of Tuesday's Dallas County Commissioner's Court meeting -- the one about Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price and the firing of elections administrator Bruce Sherbet -- and I swear that Price was doing a whole new persona. He speaks now with a new gravitas, slowly and deeply, and he uses the word "contemplates" a lot, as in "the statute contemplates."

He really needs a black robe and a white powdered wig. I believe this is the new John Price. Long long gone is the young firebrand. I don't even see the middle-aged maverick in there any more. No, what I'm reading now when I watch the commissioner speak is a whole new character -- the High Commissioner, Governor General of Dallas County John Wiley Price.

Add it up. Through his flunky Dr. Lauren McDonald, Price now runs Parkland Hospital. He has total mind-control over Sheriff Lupe Valdez. By steamrolling Sherbet, the irritatingly honest man who ran the elections department, into resigning and replacing him with his own personal friend Toni Pippins-Poole, Price now controls elections. His pal and protégé Zachary Thompson is director of the county health department.

All of that writing I did about Price trying to squeeze the inland port project and turn it into his own private patronage pot? He did it, and he won. He probably destroyed more than half the economic value of the project to his constituents, but he preserved its potential value to him, and that's what counts, to him.

You know what I think the tone of gravitas is really all about? It's an expression of profound satisfaction. As he nears the autumnal passage of his long career, he is close to becoming what he has always dreamed -- ruler of all that he surveys.

And Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins? I'm not sure what his character is. Dormouse? Footman? Fool? Who cares? He's only in the play for a few scenes. Price is here for all five acts.

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze