We're all innocent until proven guilty. The police can investigate hell out of somebody, and that person may turn out to be pure as the driven snow. But there's another reality in the world having to do with an old cop saying: "Crime makes you stupid." Frankly, the behavior of Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins lately could be falling under that rubric.
I'm talking about the Channel 11 footage from Tuesday's Dallas County Commissioners Court meeting in which Judge Jenkins says he's not going to allow people to use an FBI investigation as an excuse for not doing their jobs. This has to do with Lisa Chambers, the county's head of Homeland Security, whom Jenkins sacked and is now accusing of being a drunk and a loafer.
Chambers says her relations with the good judge went south when she refused to be a party to using county time and money to sweep the home of a key county employee for spy devices following an FBI raid and search of said home. Last June the FBI tossed the homes and offices of the employee, Dapheny Fain, and her boss, Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.
There is some he-said, she-said going on about Chambers's firing. We can put some of that aside for the moment on the assumption that the story will develop. But we already know from Jenkins's own words that there was some kind of a contretemps involving Jenkins and county employees and a request that the county sweep the home of Fain, Price's administrative assistant.
So it looks to me like we already have a serious matter, warranting full and deliberate consideration. Before I hauled off and sacked the lady making the charge, I think I might be motivated to investigate her charges fully and air the matter publicly. Instead, Jenkins accused county commissioner Maurine Dickey of leaking it to the press.
I don't think that's how it went. But nobody should have had to leak anything. Jenkins should have taken the whole thing public the instant it happened. Tell me again: What would his motivation be for keeping it all secret?
In fact Jenkins's overall posture on the matter is defiant. Screw you, FBI. Not gonna let a damn FBI investigation get in the way of what we want to do around here. That's what the cops call an "anomalous response." Not an illegal response. Not a confession. Just a weird response, meaning maybe we need to sniff your car with a dog.
It's like, "Sir, do you have any firearms or illegal drugs in the vehicle?"
"Not that I know of."
That's an anomalous response. It's your car. You know. What's the right response, if you do not have guns or drugs in your car? For most of us, it's, "Oh, hell, no. I do not. Please, search hell out of my vehicle so we can put this to rest."
Check me on this. What's the right response to this whole FBI thing, if Price and his sock puppet, Jenkins, have nothing to hide? I think it's pretty obvious.
Open everything up. Let the daylight shine in. You want to see the security equipment we bought from Willis Johnson? No problem. Swing those barn doors wide open. There 'tis.
You want to know something about our contracting procedures? Sure thing. We're going to mobilize a whole initiative to put all of the county's contracts online with the full check registries and a search engine. It's cheap common technology that anybody can do. We're going to do it, because we have nothing to hide, and we want everybody to know that.
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Instead, Price and his friend, Captain Queeg, have been slamming shut the doors and thumbing their noses at the FBI investigation every chance they get. To me, that's anomalous, unless ...
These FBI investigations of government corruption at Dallas City Hall and now the county have been going on for the better part of 30 years. The underlying problem never seems to get better. I don't know of a single instance in which the feds have failed to hit the bull's eye. If I'm Captain Queeg and I see the FBI in the building with warrants and two-wheel dollies, I'm going to take it very seriously, and I'm going to cross every "T" and dot every "I" to make sure people know I'm taking it seriously.
Let me make a prediction. That's not how Captain Queeg is going to go. With Price right behind him muttering encouragement as he is on the viral TV footage, I predict the good judge's next move will be an edict posted all over the walls of all county buildings:
THIS COUNTY WILL NOT ALLOW AN FBI INVESTIGATION TO BE AN EXCUSE FOR RATTING PEOPLE OUT TO THE FEDS. JUST REMEMBER, THE WALLS HAVE EARS, AND SOME OF THEM ARE OURS. DON'T COME IN HERE CRYING THAT THE FBI MADE YOU TALK. REMEMBER THAT WE'RE THE ONES WHO CAN MAKE YOU WALK. WISE UP.
SIGNED, CAPTAIN QUEEG