John Wiley Price: Give the Devil His Due

Let the games begin: "Should I dance, or should I sing?" Dallas County Commissioner Maurine Dickey asked Monday, after learning what we all did: that FBI agents were searching the office, home and cars of her fellow commissioner and nemesis, John Wiley Price, along with those of two of his associates.

Pity that Dickey didn't consider Option C: shut up. Of course, if Dickey were that tasteful, every reporter in town wouldn't have called her first.

Expect a lot of quote-trolling, thumbsucking and rumor-mongering in the weeks ahead, as hungry reporters scramble for crumbs of hard information. Nature abhors vacuums, and the 24-hour blogosphere hates them too. And since FBI agents aren't the chattiest bunch—the local field office has a Tumblr called "We're Not Saying Shit"—it's going to be speculation city for a while. Did Price's collection of questionably attained vintage cars stir the feds? Was it KwanzaaFest, Price's charity event? What about the inland port, that transport hub Price attempted to jack? WFAA reported that Price has bought a lot of real estate lately. Ah-ha! What sort of person buys cheap real estate in a down market?

See what we mean? Someone better toss us a bone soon, or we're going to have Price in the library, whacking some cat named Mustard with a pipe.

A radio station asked our own Jim Schutze this week to come talk about Price's "lavish lifestyle and his history of having people roughed up." That struck Schutze as odd, since Price is known to be frugal and hasn't been in the roughing-up business for years. Sure, he yelled at ex-County Judge Jim Foster a couple of years ago, and nearly made the man widdle himself, but Foster had it coming.

That's what's so delightful about watching the FBI dog Price. Whatever else he is—presumed innocent, for one—Price is a bully. And nothing stirs delight like seeing a bully catch one in the junk drawer.

Price is also black, which means another round of the dreaded "racial overtones" flu. In this burg, order anything other than Neapolitan at Baskin-Robbins and you're suspected of having overtones. The Dallas Morning News' Gromer Jeffers already warned that the investigation "could tear Dallas apart."

Yeah, Dallas is always one search warrant away from seeing the downtrodden masses rise up in defense of guys who drive nicer cars. And steal. (See Lipscomb, Fantroy, Hill.)

Maybe this time the masses deserve more credit than reporters are inclined to give them.

Not that they're likely to get it.

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