DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas County Commissioners spent more than an hour discussing the ongoing search for communications equipment thought to be missing or misplaced during Tuesday’s meeting.
That very search prompted a faceoff of sorts last Wednesday between Commissioners John Wiley Price and Maurine Dickey, who was pressing Price to view the six satellites, which are valued at about $30,000 each and were thought to be at his remote road and bridge district office.
Four of the satellites belong to Homeland Security, whereas Health and Human Services reserve two for public health emergencies.
“We have a reason to have ours, they have a reason to have theirs,” said county Health and Human Services director Zach Thompson.
Dickey’s search, however, indicated the satellites wouldn’t be easy enough to locate during an emergency, she said.
“I had a heck of a hard time seeing this equipment,” she said. “If it’s that hard to get to, my lord, how could we access it in case of an emergency? I’m just concerned about communication.”
The county auditor promised to do a physical inventory of all the equipment in question.
Price, meanwhile, defended his attempt to keep Dickey and reporters away from the property. Price shoved WFAA reporter Brett Shipp and slammed the door to his office before Bud Gillett could enter last Wednesday.
He insists the popular notion of ‘public property’ is wrong, and that he does control certain elements of his district.
He quoted an opinion from the Texas Attorney General, saying, “The government may exclude the news media from property that is publicly owned if they can show that the access will interfere with the normal operations of that facility.”
The opinion continues, “It’s not a public forum by tradition or designation, but a forum reserved for a particular purpose. The state, no less than a private owner of property, has the power to preserve the property under their control for which it is dedicated.”
Price left the meeting, however, without speaking to reporters or indicating how their presence might have interfered with his work.