DALLAS — For the past 16 years, Kwanzaa Fest at Fair Park has celebrated the season with vendors, food and entertainment.
Uniformed officers are also part of the scene, mandated by the city and fully appreciated during a shooting incident in 2008.
But according to the private investigator hired by the county, many of those officers were not there by choice — mainly the deputy constables working under Constables Jaime Cortes and Derick Evans.
According the report, 22 deputies were intimidated and coerced into working the festival for free.
The report alleges that $15,164 of county tax dollars were improperly spent on the festival, and that Kwanzaa Fest organizer and Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price refused to release critical documents to the private investigator.
Dallas County Judge Jim Foster says the report confirms the complaints he's been hearing for months.
"We've got affidavit after affidavit," said Foster. "We've got 22 people who didn't want to work, and we have one person that complained that they had to work a 12-hour shift."
But Price says the allegations are baseless, and he calls the report a waste of taxpayer money. "It's political desperation; we are very clear about what it is," Price said.
Price said the County Judge's private investigation has cost taxpayers more than $130,000, and has resulted in plenty of publicity for Foster — but little evidence of corruption.
"I've read the report, Brett, it's not specific," Price said. "And that's what I'm saying: Give me the specifics."
Another report specific to allegations against Precinct 1 Constable Derick Evans is expected soon.
Price predicts it will come just before Election Day next Tuesday.