HUTCHINS -- A 75-year-old Hutchins resident is on a mission to attract outside attention to the city’s finances.
Marshall Eames is putting up signs, which say “Audit Hutchins,” in front of the county courthouse and in the nearby medians. He’s calling for an outside audit.
“I’ve lived in Hutchins for 18 years, and I’ve watched the politics and it just doesn’t seem like anything’s changed,” Eames said.
Recently, a 16-month public corruption investigation sent shock waves through this tiny town in southeast Dallas County. A litany of city officials were indicted on a variety of charges in late March, including then-Mayor Artis Johnson on two misdemeanor counts. City Secretary Janis Daniels was indicted on a misdemeanor charge over allegations that she misused her city credit accounts.
Daniels remains on the job and has the backing of the Hutchins City Council, including newly-installed Mayor Mario Vasquez.
Vasquez isn’t impressed with Eames’ crusade.
“I don’t understand what his reason is for doing this, and so like I said, he’s a controversial kind of guy,” Vasquez said. “He likes mess.”
Vasquez defended the decision to keep Daniels on the job, saying she’s innocent until proven guilty. He also pointed out that the city passes annual audits every year.
“We come out with an A1 audit on everything, so I don’t know what he could be talking about,” Vasquez said.
Eames says those audits aren't good enough. He backed Vasquez’s opponent in the recent mayoral election.
He said he initially put the signs up in Hutchins, but they were quickly taken down.
Last month, Daniels told News 8 that the charges against her were politically motivated.
“It’s all vindictive,” she said. “It's a mess, that’s what it is.”
Daniels said that she used the town's accounts for personal use, but said she had permission from the city finance director and that she paid the money back.
A memo from the Hutchins City Attorney said city employees frequently used city accounts of personal purchases.
To Eames, that is evidence of a pervasive problem.
“It wasn’t politics when the Dallas County District Attorney and the grand jury saw the evidence against her and indicted her,” Eames said. “I mean, come on -- something’s not right.”
He said, among other things, he wanted an outside accounting that the funds really have been paid back.
Eames said he plans to continuing buying the signs every month with money from his retirement checks until someone pays attention.
“I’m not looking for anybody to go to jail, but let’s fess up,” Eames said.