Welcome to Big Time Small-Time Dicks, a regular column on The Slot that explores local politicians, small-town scandals, and everything else making life miserable on a local level. Know a small time person who is a big time dick we should feature? Email us.
For two years, your Big Time Small-Time Dicks archivist lived in Dallas, a city with delicious tacos, homicidal drivers, and the most thrillingly corrupt, fucked up, dysfunctional local politics imaginable. In today’s very special episode of BTSTD, we bring you a long-overdue fistfight between the city’s two most entertaining politicians.
Your contenders are John Wiley Price and Dwaine Caraway, both candidates for a spot on the Dallas County Commissioners Court, who got into a physical altercation Monday during a debate at KHVN radio, a gospel station in South Dallas. Both men are powerful figures in South Dallas, a predominantly black and Latino, very poor part of town with a shamefully crumbling infrastructure that’s resolutely ignored most of the time by the city’s white leadership. The fight was possibly over allegations that Price had sex with Caraway’s wife. There’s a video!
“I’m tired of you,” Caraway, a long-time City Council member and briefly the interim mayor, bellows at the incumbent Price, a Dallas County Commissioner for like 30 years and an absolute maniac (more on that in a minute).
Caraway is, as the video shows, in the midst of being dragged out of the station by a whole bunch of people as he’s yelling this. He then adds what sounds a lot like, “You fucked my wife!”
Caraway is currently married to Barbara Caraway, a former member of the Texas House of Representatives. But the Dallas Observer (where, full disclosure, I used to work), thinks maybe Caraway is referring to his first wife, whom he divorced in 1994.
It’s unclear! Caraway declined to discuss the details of the alleged wife-fucking with the Dallas Morning News, telling a reporter not to “break up my home with this bullshit.” Caraway added that Price was calling him names:
Said Caraway, once the mics were turned off, “John continued to curse me, called me a B, called me all kinds of names and continued and continued and continued. What the video shows was one side of it, and that was the side of my reaction to John’s actions. They did not show John’s actions and what caused it. That still goes not give me an excuse as an elected official to lose my cool. However, when a bully had bullies people for so long … at some point, fits of rage will occur.”
Caraway also claimed to the DMN that Price choked one of his employees:
It all started, Caraway said, when Price got mad because a political ad for Caraway played during a commercial break. Caraway said Price grabbed and choked one of Caraway’s campaign workers, George Nash, who was “the smallest person in the room.”
“He grabbed him by the throat, choking him, scratching him on the throat and his arm,” Caraway said, adding: “a deranged, indicted person put his hands on a 115-pound young man.”
It’s also worth noting, while we’re here, that this isn’t the first time John Wiley Price has been involved in a controversy, or the fourth, or the fifteenth. He’s currently under federal indictment on a bevy of corruption charges, as are members of his staff. That case is set for trial in September; meanwhile, an Austin businesswoman was convicted in January of lying to the FBI about paying Price bribes (she wasn’t, however, convicted of bribery, for some reason).
But the real reason Price is famous in Dallas is for his pugnaciousness, the sheer number of fights he finds himself involved in. A brief sampling: In 1990, a white Dallas police officer accused Price of pointing an Uzi at his head, an allegation Price denied, saying the officer had been using racial slurs. In 1991, he served jail time for snapping off a lady’s windshield wipers, and evaded assault charges for a different “downtown scuffle,” as the newspapers referred to it. In 1992, Price was accused of deliberately breaking a construction worker’s ankle during a protest, but was acquitted on felony assault charges. In 2011, he shoved a reporter and slammed a door on him, all captured on video. In between, he’s done a lot of yelling and threatening from his commissioner’s seat, at one point famously yelling, “Make me come to order!” while pounding the table, directed at a colleague who was asking him to come to order.
In 2009, Dallas Observer columnist Jim Schutze offered to fight Price, asking, sort of jokingly, “Who’s ever going to kick John Wiley Price’s ass?” Schutze noted a bevy of other complaints against Price over the years that have gone nowhere, legally speaking. So many. So, so many.
Caraway, meanwhile, is also periodically in the news for various less-than-savory incidents. In 2011, when he was serving as interim mayor, his current wife allegedly threatened him with a knife in their home, something he persuaded the responding police officers to keep quiet. When the news became public, he made up a ridiculous story about breaking up a fight between two guys named “Arthur and Archie” before eventually admitting that yeah, he’d been having a marital dispute. Caraway fought for months to keep police recordings of the incident from becoming public, but they were eventually released. He’s also fought to defend a house in South Dallas where people like to play poker—an underground casino, some might call it—from police involvement and even parking tickets, admitting that both he and his dad used to like to play poker there, back before he joined the City Council. It all looks very tame, compared to Price.
And so, all of this incredible dysfunction, corruption, mayhem and ancient grudges led us to this point: a shoving match between two grown-ass men in a gospel radio station, one of them yelling “You fucked my wife!” as the word JESUS is clearly visible on a sign just over his shoulder.
Dallas. What a town.
Screenshot via YouTube/Dallas Morning News. Big Time Small-Time Dicks logo by staff male Bobby Finger.