I don't know how much attention this has gotten nationally, but here in the DFW area, it has been a firestorm ...
Dallas' Mayor Pro Tem (essentially Vice Mayor) is Dwaine Caraway. Mr. Caraway is a Democrat, and represents an almost 100% black district of Dallas. Mr. Caraway has been the center of a number of gaffes and questionable incidents recently. However, an incident that took place last Saturday in the runup to the Superbowl has really cranked up the furor over his behavior.
On Saturday, Caraway presented Eagles quarterback Michael Vick with a Key to the City of Dallas.
The presentation was made while Vick was speaking to kids about his experiences at the Club Cirque in downtown Dallas.
Shock and dismay immediately set in. Dallas' mayor, Tom Leppert, said it was unfortunate and shouldn't have happened. All other members of the city council, save one, condemned it. The lone supporter of Caraway's actions was Carolyn Davis, another representative of a completely black district in South Dallas.
Now, an explanation is in order. The Key was an unofficial one. There are official Keys to the City, which are expensive and given out mainly to foreign dignitaries under strict protocol guidelines. The unofficial Keys are much cheaper ones, given to each City Council member to distribute as they please. There are no written rules about their distribution, and no official record is kept of their distribution. Indeed, Kiss bass player Gene Simmons were presented with one earlier in that same week, in recognition of his work with soldiers and their needs. So, no rules or laws were broken by Mr. Caraway's actions.
However, to award the Key to the City of Dallas to the quarterback of the PHILADELPHIA EAGLES, by itself, is a crime against all logic and the people of Dallas. To award it to Vick, with his heinous criminal background, for no specific reason is just plain wrong.
Caraway's public comments since the incident have indicated he was trying to recognize Vick publicly for how he has turned his life around, and how his redemption should be held up as an example to kids. That very well may be, and I really don't doubt his sincerity in saying that. However, his reasoning is seriously flawed, and he had no idea what a firestorm he was going to set off.
Some folks in this area have portrayed this as pandering to get the black vote. Vick is considered a hero by many young blacks - people who are taught that athletes and bling are to be worshipped, and a dog is just a dumb animal. I don't think that is the case here - Caraway's district is 100% black. He is black. He doesn't need to pander for votes, he's going to get almost all of them all anyway. South Dallas has always, and will always, block vote for incumbent black Democrat candidates.
I have no problem with Vick while he was on stage on this one issue. He didn't know it was coming, appeared to be humble when he was given it. The behavior of him and his bodyguards as he left the event certainly don't give the impression of someone who is deeply sorry for what he did.
As an aside - Tom Leppert has announced he will resign as Dallas' mayor shortly, in order to run for US Senate seat to be vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison. When he does, Dwaine Caraway, with all of his baggage and controversy, becomes Dallas' mayor.
Oh, shit ...