City Hall

To Those Who Supported Dwaine Caraway So Generously: Gee, Thanks

Dwaine Caraway outside City Hall and Dwaine Caraway inside: two different guys
Dwaine Caraway outside City Hall and Dwaine Caraway inside: two different guys Sam Merten and Stephen Young
This is a letter from Jim Schutze to:

42 Deep Ellum, LP, Al Rousan & Wared Corp, Clarence & Gina Anderson, Apartment Association of Greater Dallas, Mr. & Mrs. Richard Ashton, Victor Ballas, Jackie Bewley, Mason Brown III, Comerica Inc. Political Action, Louis Corna, Trammell Crow, Dallas Citizen Council, Dallas Firefighters Association, Dallas Police Officer PAC, JD Daniel, Roselind Etheridge, Ashleigh Foster, Britton Foster, Milton Frazier, General Drivers Warehousemen, Michael Gruber, William Helton, Hunter Hunt, Nancy Ann Hunt, Ray Hunt, Johnson Housing Services, Ann Kim, Chong Kim, Hanna Kim, Johnnie & Delva King, James P. & Clara Y. Lee, James Pyung & Clara Lee, Leon Capital Partners LLC, Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLC, Robert Lovell, Cecilia Maynard, Mr. Maynard, Frank & Maryann Mihalopoulos, Sean Modjarrad, Dal Won & Hee Sook Nam, New American PAC, Candice Norman, Timothy Pannell, Roland Parrish, Bhulabhai Patel, Maheshkumar Patel, Mike Patel, Parimal & Rekha Patel, Rajesh & Rekha Patel, Suresh Patel, Sterling Phillips, James D. & Cynthia A. Reynolds, Rollings Construction, Romano Enterprises, George & Amanda Ryan, George B. & Amanda S. Ryan, Donna Schoettermer, Brian Schwartz, John Field & Diane King Scovell, Carl Sewell, Sonu Partners Investments, Mr. & Mrs. Dary & Lindy Stone, Richard Strauss, The Marye Law Firm, The Real Estate Council, Jere Thompson, Trinity United, David Tripplehorn, Jason Yoo
Dear All of the Above:

You are the tops. Dallas City Council member Dwaine Caraway, who pleaded guilty last week to federal fraud and tax evasion charges and who could spend the next seven years in prison if the judge lets him off that light, had many financial supporters, but none like you. You are the ones who gave him $1,000 each and more for his campaigns.

One other important distinction: Your support was legal. As we now know, Caraway took almost half a million dollars in bribes — that he has admitted to — from some Louisiana hoods. You are not hoods. You are campaign supporters within the law.

So, wow. How are you feeling today? What do you think about what your money has accomplished for this city? You must know that this pattern of southern Dallas politicians with their hands out for bribes is the single biggest and darkest force inhibiting investment in southern Dallas. The toll-takers like Caraway are the most important factor in keeping the area undeveloped, poor and segregated.

I’m not saying that’s why you gave Caraway your money. That might be one too many conspiratorial dots to connect even for me. I’m not even saying you knew Caraway’s vote was for sale, meaning for sale for sale, like a carton of ice cream.

Robert Leonard, the hood from Louisiana who paid Caraway $450,000 in bribes, knew. He told federal investigators he knew that Caraway didn’t do anything unless he got paid. But you had no way of knowing that, did you? You’re nice people. How would you know?

I do notice this about you, however. Not a one of you is from Caraway’s walk of life. You didn’t grow up in the projects. Very few of you live in southern Dallas now.

In fact, almost all of you live way over on the other far side of the tracks. I don’t recognize every single one of you by name, especially the ones of you who disguise your names, but most of you I know a little bit about. Most of you are from way way across the tracks, over on the fancy side of the tracks.

The toll-takers like Caraway are the most important factor in keeping southern Dallas undeveloped, poor and segregated.

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It’s funny to me that you were so generous with now ex-council member Caraway, because I don’t really see your interests aligning much with the interests of Caraway’s constituents. Of course, I’m not exactly thinking right about that, am I? Whatever he may have made himself famous for outside of City Hall, he was best known inside City Hall for voting for your interests, not theirs.

I just wrote about that recently. I had been writing about the fake suspension bridge that your crowd got the city to build over the Trinity River as a decoration, the one that still can’t be opened a year after it was finished because it’s not safe. That’s the one that cost $115 million.

Look, I’m sorry, don’t take this the wrong way — well, take it the wrong way, that's OK — but that bridge is really truly a rich white people deal. If there was ever anything that just screamed rich white people all over, up one side and down the other, it’s that bridge.

Caraway was a major champion of that project. He was disparaging of council members Scott Griggs and Angela Hunt when they questioned the cost and the liability later for taxpayers. I know some of you were sitting in the audience during the debate at City Hall. You must have just loved Dwaine that day. He was your guy. Isn’t that strange?

Did you know that Caraway’s council district has $295 million in deferred maintenance for streets alone? His district is at the far end of the economic disparity spectrum in Dallas, the poor end, obviously. Yet, he devotes major political capital to your decoration bridge.

He said in his resignation letter, “Eventually I hope that I will be judged not by my darkest moments but rather the context of my entire life …” I don’t know. If I were Caraway, I might keep a little quiet about the context.

First of all, he will be judged by his darkest moments, because that’s how history judges. That’s how it is. In the second place, the context of his entire life is pretty dark, not just the moments. The bridge was not a one-time thing or a fluke.

He sided with you guys last year, for example, when the progressives on the council questioned the enormous subsidy the city provides the State Fair of Texas in the form of uncompensated security services from the police department. I’m just saying.

He represents a poor high-crime district, where he has made his name publicly by campaigning against vice, and yet he’s willing to let the fair suck 10 percent of the entire police force off the streets to act as security guards. He was the swing vote for you on that.

I know you guys love him for that, and I understand why. It’s very scary to travel all the way from your side of the tracks to the far side where the fair takes place every year, and you feel better having a lot of blue around you at all times. I get it.

But, again, that’s kind of a white people deal. In fact, it’s kind of a rich white people deal. In fact, it’s kind of a Park Cities rich white people deal. Most of the rest of us white people are a little more cool about the fair than you are. We don’t need to be surrounded by a police escort at all times when we travel outside the bubble. Maybe it’s because we don’t travel inside the bubble.

You think I’m stretching this? Maybe reaching too far, trying too hard to paint a picture? OK, here’s the one that pretty much says it all for me.

Dwaine Caraway was the swing vote again this year and pretty much the key player on the council for keeping the Confederate statues up, even after the council had voted to take them down. He saved the Confederate statues.

Caraway is a black guy. I’m a white guy. I can’t tell Caraway what to think. It’s not my right. I know that. But I think I can say for sure that it’s just unbelievably weird for a black guy to be the one who preserves the Confederate statues. It’s like something from the new Spike Lee movie, BlacKkKlansman. You don’t agree? C’mon. You agree. But you love it.

click to enlarge All those people who have supported Caraway's campaigns so generously over the years have a little thinking to do about it. - DALLASCITYHALL.COM
All those people who have supported Caraway's campaigns so generously over the years have a little thinking to do about it.
I also happen to know that many of you, not all, just love those Confederate statues, especially the horseback one of Robert E. Lee that did get taken down last year and is now in secure storage.

“Shootzee, don’t get into my women.”— Dwaine Caraway

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It was Caraway who crafted the deal by which that thing is being stored like the crown jewels so that it can be brought back and reinstalled someday. I’m sorry. That’s so weird. I can’t even try to explain it to people who aren’t from Dallas. If I do I get this squint-eyed look like, “This guy must be crazy. No black politician in America at this point in time is going to defend the Confederate statues.”

But we know of one who will, don’t we? Your black politician. Dwaine Caraway.

As soon as the news broke that Caraway had a plea bargain deal with the feds and was confessing, everyone started talking about what a tragedy it was. And, OK, I admit I have felt pretty sad about it ever since I found out. I kind of love Dwaine.

He has always called me “Shootzee,” which is actually more correct than the way I say it, “Shoots.” Maybe the best response I ever got to a question as a reporter was, “Shootzee, don’t get into my women.” I have respect for that. I didn’t.

But here is what I feel is most tragic. Caraway represents a generation of southern Dallas grifter-politicians who have perpetuated the idea that southern Dallas will always be lucky to get the crumbs, the poker chips, the slices of pie out the kitchen door instead of sitting inside at the big table.

I think that’s why you have given him so much money over the years. Look, it was honest money, honestly given, because you agree with him about the crumbs. But as such, your money has corroded this city far worse than any of the money from the hoods.
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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