Dallas County Commissioner Ken Mayfield called this morning -- one guess why. As he was out of pocket yesterday, Mayfield didn't get the chance to respond to commissioner John Wiley Price's comments to Unfair Park in which he branded Mayfield a "racist [who] doesn't know it." This particular brouhaha, of course, began on Monday, when Mayfield referred to the county's central collections agency for traffic tickets as a "black hole," a term to which both Price and Judge Thomas Jones took great offense. Mayfield, who this afternoon is headed to the National Association of Counties conference in Kansas City, responds at great length after the jump. --Robert Wilonsky
So, what's your take on what happened on Monday?
We were discussing the central collections unit, which wasn't doing a very good job. Some justices of the peace have worked for years to get things back to them, but things keep getting lost. And after I heard that, I said that the central collections agency is a black hole where things are being sent and not returned. Not a black hole, but a black hole. And then Price, as Price is wont to do, got upset. My take was that it was tongue-in-cheek. But if he's serious, then he has some problems. Not that he doesn't already have problems, but more than I thought.
He said, "Why don't we call it a white hole?" And then I said, "Or a pink hole." And Judge Jones, I know he's serious. He said, "I think the commissioner owes us an apology for making a racial insensitive remark." And I said, "Are you nuts? Don't you know what a black hole is?" Anyone who had a problem with what I said needs to go see a psychiatrist. They have some mental problems"
Yesterday, he told us you're a racist, even if you don't know it.
[Laughs] He's the biggest racist there is. And obviously he doesn't know it.
How have we gotten to the point where something as benign as the phrase "black hole" has become some kind of a flashpoint?
I don't have any idea. As I said, John and Judge Jones need to check in with a psychiatrist. But our relationship is the same it has been from day one.
I don't know. Rocky, I guess. Detrimentally so?
Not to me. If it is to him, I don't know. To the taxpayers? I don't think so. --Robert Wilonsky