Behind the Constables Investigation, JWP, KwanzaaFest and an Accommodation

I want to confess in advance. I, Jim Schutze, am a party to the KwanzaaFest scandal. It's all going to come out now. I knew this would happen. I'm ready for my hands-over-the-face paddy wagon shot now.

Rudy Bush has posted excerpts from the findings of Danny Defenbaugh, the private investigator looking into allegations of corrupt practices in county government. I'm not in it yet. But I will be.

In a December 22 letter to County Judge Jim Foster, Defenbaugh makes several references to KwanzaaFest, the local African American festival founded 18 years ago by Dallas County commissioner John Wiley Price. Defenbaugh cites sworn statements from Dallas County deputy constables who say they were forced to work security at the festival without compensation. He also makes reference to financial statements Price is required by federal law to produce on demand but has refused to make available.

I have been following this element of the investigation with a very personal sense of foreboding. I believe it has a lot to do with Price's extreme hostility toward the Defenbaugh investigation.

Price and his family are the owner-operators of KwanzaaFest. For years people have complained quietly that the flow of money in and out of this annual production is never sufficiently accounted for -- or counted at all. The fact that Price won't produce records he is required by law to produce is strong indication there may be fire beneath this smoke.

So, at some point it's going to come out that several years ago, when Price and I were on better terms, I signed over the rights to my 1986 book, The Accommodation, to KwanzaaFest.

Price told me he wanted to re-publish the book. He asked me who owned the rights. I said I did. He asked what they were worth. I said one Coca-Cola. No ice.

It's an old book. Nobody else wants to re-publish it. I asked. So the rights had no value. I said I would give him the rights if he wanted to publish it himself. He asked if I would give the rights to KwanzaaFest instead. Apparently if you offer to give him something, he says give it to KwanzaaFest.

We were on good terms then. I gave him a letter ceding the rights to KwanzaaFest. Apparently Price looked into publishing the book and decided it would cost too much money. Good decision. But now we're not on good terms. If he ever does publish it, he'll probably take a Magic Marker and draw dirty things on my jacket photo.

I don't know what any of this means. Probably nothing. But I wanted you to hear it here first. I am involved. Lock me up and thow away the key. Maybe that way I can get a damn nap.

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