Tick Tock

Last week, Buzz asked if anyone out in reader-land really cared that much about the fake-drug scandal that has tainted the Dallas Police Department and district attorney's office over the past year. Pretty nasty business, we suggested, what with police paying an informant thousands of dollars to make cases against "drug dealers" who later turned out to be innocent laborers set up with fake cocaine. Pretty muted response from the public, we thought.

We were happy to hear from about a half-dozen readers who said that they, too, are incensed by the scandal, which is currently under investigation by the FBI. We were slightly less happy to hear from one woman who asked, in so many words, "So what are we supposed to do about it?"

What, you mean you expect Buzz to offer up something more than our weekly dose of balloon juice?

Okaaay. What to do? That's a toughy. Let's ask an expert. Buzz called the mayor. She's been both newspaper columnist and political crusader.

"I am probably more anxious than anyone in the building to get to the bottom of this," Mayor Laura Miller told us last week. "...I called the FBI this week, and I said...'Why can't we go ahead and do a parallel investigation since you guys are not nearly done?'"

Good question. The FBI investigated the Dallas Independent School District for what seemed like 30 or 40 years, and during that time the school board managed to take steps to clean house and replace administrators.

But, Miller points out, to get to the bottom of the fake-drug scandal, the city council will need to take sworn affidavits from the officers involved and root around for information that could compromise the FBI's criminal investigation. For now, she and the council must wait for the FBI to wrap up its work, which Miller says the agency expects to finish in six months.

"Unlike other scenarios in the past where I've seen major problems happen at City Hall and then no one is accountable for them, that's not what's going to happen on this one," Miller promises.

And that, readers, is where you come in. The last time Miller and former fellow council member Donna Blumer started asking hard questions about how well and honestly the police department is managed, Miller wound up with protesters outside her home carrying some very nasty signs. Buzz doesn't recall Miller and Blumer getting much support from others around the council table then. In six months, a year, a century, will there be enough political will among the city council to ask the tough questions Miller promises in this case?

Not if you don't let the council know you care. What to do? Several of you called and wrote Buzz this past week. We suggest you do the same--loudly and frequently--with your council member. You have six months to help them locate their spines and senses of justice. Good luck with that.

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