Politics & Government

Jim Schutze Continues to Embarrass the Morning News on the Khraish Story

Really, I almost feel bad for the paper at this point.

Back before the Observer ruined its website, this is what Schutze's column looked like.
Back before the Observer ruined its website, this is what Schutze’s column looked like.

This is getting bad. On Wednesday, Jim Schutze published a recording that Khraish Khraish surreptitiously made when he met with Mayor Mike Rawlings last year. I’ve listened to the whole hour-long recording, not just the snippets that Schutze singled out in his post. The mayor does not sound good. He does not sound like his top priority is the 300 low-income families who rent from Khraish in West Dallas. He sounds like he wants those houses sold and the land redeveloped. He sounds like a bully. At one point in the tape, Rawlings asks Khraish which bank he uses. To my ear, it was a threat. That’s how Khraish seems to have heard it.

The same day that Schutze posted this audio, Robert Wilonsky wrote a piece saying that there was no conspiracy theory. How did he know there wasn’t a conspiracy theory? The mayor told him there wasn’t one. Wilonsky made sure to mention that the mayor told him this while he, the mayor, was sitting in his office. Reporters used to have an office at City Hall, merely for expediency’s sake. I picture Wilonsky’s office actually inside the mayor’s office. Maybe it’s just the credenza off to the side of the mayor’s much larger desk. 

So in terms of getting this one story right, things were looking bad for the paper until this morning. That’s when things began to look much worse. Yesterday Khraish met with the mayor to try to find a resolution to this mess, some way to keep 300 families from being evicted. Marc Ramirez wrote a story for the DMN about this meeting. Ramirez’s story mentions the audio that Schutze published. You know what Ramirez’s story doesn’t mention? It doesn’t mention that Khraish has offered to sell all his West Dallas rental houses to Habitat for Humanity and that, in fact, Khraish brought Bill Hall, CEO of Habitat for Humanity, to the meeting with the mayor and that, further, the mayor wouldn’t let Hall into the meeting. We know all that only because Schutze reported it.

If the mayor is worried about the living conditions of 300 poor families in West Dallas, if he thinks Khraish isn’t doing his part to be a good landlord, why wouldn’t he want Habitat for Humanity to step in and buy the houses? Why wouldn’t he want Habitat for Humanity to even be part of the conversation? And, for goodness’ sake, if you were writing a story about this meeting, how could you possibly leave out the fact that the mayor wouldn’t let the CEO of Habitat for Humanity into the room?

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