Taking School Board Candidates to School

I'm not sure what's worse: that the once-respected Dallas Independent School District board candidate Walter Lewis Price thought he could hide a conviction for stealing $516 worth of women's lingerie from Neiman Marcus or that such a revelation could cost him the support of Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, who has had so many run-ins with the law he might technically qualify as a starter for the Dallas Cowboys. I understand the point that John Wiley Price, who is not related to the school board candidate, is trying to make: Walter Price's sin is one of omission, not commission—that an 8-year-old arrest for shoplifting doesn't matter nearly as much as the fact he refused to tell his supporters about the (scantily clad) skeletons in his walk-in closet.'s hard to get past the fact that John Wiley Price has been charged with nearly 20 criminal offenses, including rape and assault, and while most of those charges were later dismissed (including the rape charge), he was convicted in a few cases, including violating probation and criminal mischief after he damaged the car of a Plano woman. Should Price really cast himself as the indignant critic of a candidate with a criminal past? Let he who is without a lengthy rap sheet cast the first stone.

I did like Walter Lewis Price's woeful excuse for why he stole from Neiman Marcus—that "money was short." Fine. Then steal food, float a bad check for rent, skip out at Cafe Brazil after you downed the short-stack pancakes. Perhaps a forgiving electorate could possibly-maybe-kinda-sorta give you the benefit of the doubt for those adventures in thievery. But insufficient funds is hardly a compelling excuse for stealing hundreds of dollars in bras and panties unless you're dating Paris Hilton. I don't think that was the case with Walter Lewis Price.

This has been a crazy election season for the Dallas school board, which has been good for The Dallas Morning News, which has feasted like a rabid raccoon on the unopened garbage of our candidates' personal histories. Of course, if you're a DISD parent, you're probably punching yourself in the face. In addition to WLP's bout with the law, new school trustee Adam Medrano was charged with evading arrest after Dallas' finest conducted a sting of homosexual activity in a Dillard's bathroom. I've had lunch with Medrano—he's a nice, well-intentioned guy, and I think he'll do a good job. But all else being equal, you'd rather have a trustee up there presiding over vital policy decisions who has never run away from the police.

There's also Ron Price, yet another gregarious, good-hearted trustee up for re-election who's told various lies about his background. In addition, Price has been convicted of spousal assault, and while a number of people tell me that the case against him was extraordinarily weak and that he was actually trying to play peacemaker, once again, with all else being equal, you'd rather have someone up there who didn't find himself in trouble with the law and/or truth.

And then there's incumbent Lois Parrott, who is facing a spirited challenge from Leigh Ann Ellis. Parrott is an extremely intelligent, dedicated school board member, but there's a lot of stuff about her that's just bizarre. In a Dallas Morning News story on their battle, Parrott refused to discuss the lawsuit she brought against the district, explaining to the reporter that he wouldn't understand it. That story also revealed that her husband, who was portrayed as some sort of shadowy Svengali, made a local PTA honcho cry.

There's probably more here that I'm forgetting, but you get the point: We don't exactly have the best and brightest running for school board. And for that, don't blame the candidates, blame the people who choose not to run at all. In the end, we get the government we deserve. Maybe it's fitting that we seem to be choosing one with expensive taste in lingerie. --Matt Pulle

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky