Somber day for city officials as Dwaine Caraway pleads guilty to corruption charges

Reaction was subdued from Dallas leaders to the guilty plea and revelations of the elaborate scheme that allowed Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway to receive nearly a half million dollars in kickbacks and bribes.

Caraway issued a statement, but did not speak before cameras on Thursday. His fellow councilmembers were somber when they addressed what happened.

"I think this is a sad day for the city of Dallas,” said councilman Kevin Felder.

The weather on Thursday morning meant there was a literal cloud over city hall on a dark day for the city’s government.

“I'm personally fond of him, so it’s sad for me,” said councilman Philip Kingston.

Caraway said in his resignation later he had to “take responsibility for my actions.”

Actions taken during a May 2015 council meeting were one of the telling moments in this case. While secretly receiving bribes from the head of Force Multiplier Solutions, Caraway publically encouraged his colleagues to approve a long-term contract with the company that supplied school bus cameras.

Councilwoman Jennifer Staubach-Gates had pulled the item for discussion and council members' concerns now seem foretelling.

“I've never seen so much reluctance on any other issue to have it briefed,” councilman Scott Griggs said at the time.

In the end, the contract extension was approved. But within two years, the bus camera scandal and other mismanagement sent Dallas County Schools into financial ruin.

Mayor Mike Rawlings acknowledged the connection in his statement about Caraway.

"As we all now know, the corruption at Dallas County Schools extended beyond the confines of that now-shuttered organization. I am sad for the city, especially the citizens of District 4."

Rawlings said Caraway had done some good work for his constituents during his career and that he spared the city a tedious and painful legal battle by pleading guilty.

But the mayor and other council members worry that caraway's betrayal of public trust will extend well beyond his district.

"We put in every kind of safe guard we can think of and there is no safeguard for intentional bad behavior,” Kingston said.

Rawlings cited the work of the 12,000 city employees who work for the citizens of Dallas.

“Almost every one of them serves honorably and ethically -- and never make the news. This city is so much bigger than any one politician who lost his way,” Rawlings said.

At Heaven 97 KHVN in South Dallas, the midday talk show was all a buzz about the disgraced former Dallas mayor pro tem.

Robert Ashley is the host of the popular "Call-In" show as well as the station's news director. It's the same place in 2016 where Caraway got into a heated confrontation with John Wiley Price.

Ashley, who remembers the fight vividly, says folks in Caraway's district are upset and let down.

“It was like an emotional rollercoaster,” he said. “There were some who were ready to tear his heart out, and there were others wait just a minutes he's copped a plea.”

Darryl Blair Sr. is the publisher of Elite News, a newspaper that serves the black community. The Friday paper’s lead story will be the rise and fall of Dwaine Caraway. Blair says it's a shame a powerful politician's career self-imploded due to greed.

“It's a little bitter sweet, you know,” he said. “Bitter for what happened to the community and sweet because now justice is being served.”

The publisher of Elite News expects Friday’s edition to sell out.

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