It's Hard to Steal Trash, Plus Other Reasons Hutchins' Ex-Mayor Isn't a Criminal

This item is in answer to a comment on Unfair Park yesterday that I thought deserved a more detailed response than I could provide in the comments section. Let's see if I can use more words to make things even worse.

This week I have a story in the paper about Artis Johnson, former mayor of Hutchins, a small community in southern Dallas County. He was indicted almost a year ago for criminal conspiracy and abuse of office.

See also: Former Hutchins Mayor Artis Johnson Is Clear of Criminal Charges, but Their Damage Lingers

All charges were dropped at the end of the year. My story is about what it felt like to Johnson to be under that shadow for months until the charges went away. The story ran yesterday on Unfair Park and appears in the newspaper on newsstands this week.

I said in the story that Mayor Johnson was indicted on the basis of a single check he wrote, which I characterized as "sparse evidence." A commenter using the pseudonym, James080, asked for more detail about the check, especially the purpose and amount. It's a good question. Not providing that detail may also have been unfair to former Hutchins Police Chief Frank McElligott, who found the check and won an indictment on the basis of it.

So here is the tick tock. Hutchins is a strong mayor town. The mayor is the top administrative official. He signs the checks.

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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