How Do You Get Your Constituents To Hate You? Tell Them Their Kids Aren't Very Smart.

Lot of interesting murmurs going around Southern Dallas the last few days concerning Christy Hoppe and Todd J. Gillman's stories in the The Dallas Morning News about Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, Democrat of Dallas, dishing scholarships to her own relatives and the children of her top aide, Rod Givens, from a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation fund.

Her defenders say the scholarship scam is the same stuff white folks do ... yada yada yada. But other people in Southern Dallas are taking a quite dim view of the way the very senior member from Dallas has responded to the Gillman-Hoppe stories - notably, her seeming detachment from Southern Dallas.

In explaining why she gave the money to members of her own family and the Givens clan who don't live in her district, breaking the donor foundation's rules, Johnson suggested there aren't that many kids in her district who qualify. Nice. She knows how to make the home folks feel good, doesn't she?

But worse, Johnson's remarks also suggest she just doesn't think the $25,000 she handed out to her own and Givens's relatives is enough to worry about. At one point she told The News, "The most that any kid normally gets is from $1,000 to $1,200," as if that were pretty much chump change.

At another point Johnson said, "... I don't think a $1,000 scholarship's going to do too much ..." You know, it's like that's barely plane fare to Aruba, anyway? What's the big deal?

Well, maybe it's not much money if you're partying down at the University of Colorado. But as one caller today pointed out to me, those $1,200 scholarships would have gone down pretty well for any of the more than 70,000 students who attend Dallas County Community College campuses.

Average DCCCD tuition and fees for a year of college? $1,230. Average books and supplies, $1,400.

So that $25,000 is almost enough to send almost 10 kids to college for a year at DCCCD. Things look a lot different when you're not in the Congress or on the staff.

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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