In a 2015 city council meeting, now-resigned Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway gave a passionate endorsement of stop-arm camera technology on the county’s school buses.
We now know that, according to Caraway's guilty plea in court Thursday, that speech was among the political favors Caraway performed for Force Multiplier Solutions and its president, Robert Leonard, in exchange for payments totaling more than $450,000.
Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, made reference to the May 13, 2015 speech Thursday in the announcement of federal corruption charges being brought against Caraway.
WFAA has dug through the city council archives to find video of that speech.
For about six-and-a-half minutes, Caraway expressed an urgency with which the council should renew a program that placed FMS cameras on the sides of school buses to catch motorists who drive past buses with the stop sign extended.
He pointed to political processes “run amok” in Austin, and said that delaying the measure further “runs the risk of not having it at all.”
“I think it is that imperative for us to be able to do everything that we possibly can to make sure that we – today – move this thing forward,” he said.
“People that run past these buses are putting kids and pedestrians at risk.”
Caraway shared an anecdote of a crossing guard that was struck by a driver passing a school bus in Oak Cliff.
The longtime councilmember’s comments echoed those made earlier in the council session by Dallas County Schools superintendent Ricky Dale Sorrells. Court documents now allege that Sorrells was also on the FMS payroll, receiving more than $3 million in payments in exchange for contracts and licensing agreements.
“[The stop-arm program] does change behavior, and make kids safer, which is what we're attempting to do,” Sorrells told the council. “I think it puts that whole program at risk to delay it.”
The vote to renew the program passed by an 11-1 vote after Caraway’s speech.
Caraway's political action promoting the stop-arm program included a 2012 vote endorsing it, as well as “pressuring the city attorney for a favorable opinion” on the program, according to Nealy Cox. He also used his political position to further Leonard's interest in real estate developments, she said.
The bribes netted FMS more than $70 million in business agreements with Dallas County Schools, which was then thrust into “intolerable levels of debt,” according to Nealy Cox.
Dallas County Schools went bankrupt late last year and was abolished in a November 2017 vote.