DALLAS, Texas (CBS 11 NEWS) – John Wiley Price has made it very clear – It’s business as usual for him, despite being federally indicted.
More than a week after being charged, people are still buzzing about John Wiley Price’s arrest.
“I believe he did a lot of good,” Ramon Gonzalez told us. “But then again, you never know what’s behind the curtain.”
On July 25th Commissioner Price walked out of a federal courthouse, indicted on tax fraud, bribery and corruption charges. His trial is now set for September 29th.
At Ramon’s Barber Shop in South Dallas customers and employees agreed, Price is innocent until proven guilty. But the impact his arrest will have on the county as whole is what frustrates them the most.
“Look what kind of problems they have. Look who’s running their stuff. You know. You don’t want that. You want people to talk about Dallas good,” Eddie Zamora said.
It’s that sentiment that has motivated Dallas County’s Republican Party Chair Wade Emmert to speak in front of Commissioner’s court on Tuesday.
“What sort of a message do you want Commissioner’s court to send, not just John Wiley Price, but to the voters and taxpayers of this county,” Investigative Reporter Mireya Villarreal asked.
“I think Commissioner’s Court needs to say, enough is enough,” Emmert noted.
Emmert wants the court to vote on a resolution that would suspend Price with pay, like any other employee who is under investigation.
“I would hope the other Commissioners and the County Judge would take a stand for good government and take a stand for integrity,” Emmert added.
If Commissioner’s court disagrees with Emmert’s suggestion, county taxpayers do have one other option. Texas Government Code 87 allows for the removal of a county commissioner, or any elected official for that matter, for “official misconduct”. Code 87 works by filing a civil lawsuit against in district court and allowing a judge to determine if removing the elected official is in the best interest of the county. Anyone can file the suit as long as they live in Dallas County.
Former Dallas County Judge Jim Foster suggested using Texas Government Code 87 to remove Constable Jaime Cortes back in 2010. Cortes later resigned before the suit went to court and plead guilty last year to tampering with a government record.
In April 2013, Travis County’s District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg was arrested for drinking and driving. A lawyer out of Austin also tried to use Texas Government Code 87 to have her removed after she plead guilty and served 20 days in jail for DWI.
A judge sided with the District Attorney, allowing Lehmberg to stay in her elected position despite the conviction.
In most cases where a Texas Government Code 87 lawsuit is filed, the elected official eventually resigned instead of being removed. To date, no one has come out and expressed interest in filing a removal lawsuit against John Wiley Price.
Price maintains his innocence and says he’ll be ready to work tomorrow.
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