Call 911

It's time for another Buzz pop quiz. The topic this week is citizenship.

Suppose some shady character offers to sell you a brand-new 40-inch television for 100 bucks as long as you aren't too particular about where it came from. Do you: A) Ask him if he'll take a check; B) Say "no thanks"; or C) Call the cops?

The correct answer is, of course, "A." No, wait. Cancel that. Do over. We meant "C." Witness a potential crime, call the law; that's what a good citizen should do.

So Buzz wonders, what's wrong with Dallas City Council member Ed Oakley?

Last week, Oakley told the Dallas Observer that in exchange for $5,000 he was offered a guaranteed number of mail-in votes in his council race against Dwaine Caraway ("Fixing the Fixers," February 21). Oakley, who says he declined, wouldn't tell us who made the offers, but we wondered if he named names for anyone else--the grand jury or assistant district attorney now investigating election fraud in Dallas County, for instance.

Oakley last week said the district attorney's office hadn't contacted him, and he hadn't called them either. Apparently Ed attended the same citizenship classes Buzz did. Or maybe his phone isn't working.

Eric Mountin, chief prosecutor for the public integrity section of the Dallas County District Attorney's Office, said his office is interested in what Oakley alleged. It might be illegal.

Note the word "might."

"It depends on how it was done, and by that I mean it depends on what the words were, what the understanding was, what the offer was," Mountin says.

Now that Oakley has said this publicly, is there anything the district attorney can pursue?

"I would encourage anyone to provide that type of information, including Mr. Oakley or any other candidate who feels that they are aware of criminal improprieties relative to a race that they are involved with."

Ed, allow Buzz to introduce you to Eric. Eric, Ed.

Don't bother calling 911, Ed. That's for emergencies only, and apparently this sort of stuff is so old hat in Dallas that it doesn't qualify. Mountin says his office has plenty of similar stories from other races--stories that involve brokers who trade in mail-in ballots collected mainly from elderly voters.

"Unfortunately, this is one that will probably never end," Mountin says. "They just seem to overlap from one race to the next...While it may be this relates to a different race, the facts and circumstances unfortunately are so similar that for our purposes it's just kind of a continuation of what we've been already working on."

Perhaps Buzz has it wrong. Maybe in Dallas, the correct answer is "A." Now, if you'll excuse us, we have shopping to do.

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Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams