DALLAS Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price is one of the most powerful politicians in North Texas.
Now, nearly two weeks after his arrest on federal fraud and corruption charges, there is new political fallout.
But first, anyone suggesting it was 'business as usual' for Price on Tuesday his first day back on Commissioners Court since his indictment and arrest must not know him. The old John Wiley Price would not have sat passively while political adversaries took aim at him in public.
'The allegation is that for the past 10 years, county contracts have been rigged with Commissioner Price selling his vote to the highest bidder,' said Wade Emmert, chairman of the Dallas County Republican Party.
Also taking Price to task and calling him out was his arch-nemesis, Sandra Crenshaw.
'The paper trail suggests that there may be a breach of how Dallas County does business,' said Crenshaw as she addressed the panel.
Amid calls for his resignation, Price remained unusually calm. And while critics professed the presumption of innocence, there were still calls for change, beginning with fellow Commissioner Mike Cantrell.
'I will be looking at some type of resolution, be it resignation; be it censure; be it stepping back from all contractual obligations,' he said.
Cantrell also said he wants to explore forcing county lobbyists to register, and tightening the rules on purchasing.
The federal indictment accuses Price of conspiring with his political consultant Kathy Nealy to funnel inside information to prospective vendors, who had secretly hired Nealy to help them get contracts.
'What has taken place here has shaken the very foundation of this institution,' Cantrell said. 'We need to look at different ways we can effectuate change.'
And while County Judge Clay Jenkins also called for some reforms in the wake of the corruption allegations, he also is urging caution.
'I think for a county we have some of the most extensive transparency policies in the state,' he said. 'I almost fear that if we revisit the good ones, they will be watered down.'
Jenkins does support adopting recommendations from a 2009 report on tightening the purchasing process. He also says Dallas County needs a new purchasing director, and he wants that to entail a nationwide search.