CRAIG WATKINS CRIMINAL DISTRICT ATTORNEY DALLAS COUNTY, TEXAS August 28, 2009 It has been a few weeks since our last town hall meeting and in light of everything that has occurred this week I want to bring you up to speed on our budget issue. After our town hall meeting on August 5th in Irving we had not heard any new discussions or proposals from the Commissioners Court regarding our position to not cut the DA's budget in the interest of public safety. However, last Wednesday things seemingly started to change in our favor, at least temporarily. Below is a detailed chronology of the events that have occurred over the past 10 days. August 19 • At approximately 4:25 p.m. our office receives a call from a representative at County Judge Jim Foster's office stating that Judge Foster wanted to come over to our office to meet with me. • Our PIO sends me a text message at 4:31 p.m. to let me know Judge Foster wants to meet and I head back to the office after attending a conference. • While in route to the office, Commissioner Maurine Dickey (District 1) calls the office and says the person who originally phoned was actually calling on her behalf and that she was the one who wanted to meet with me. • Commissioner Dickey arrives at the DA's Office at approximately 5:00 p.m. and we meet in my office for roughly 30 minutes. During our discussion, she tells me that if I would be willing to contribute $600,000 towards the purchase of a new fmgerprinting equipment for the Sheriff's Office that she would support funding us for FY20 10 at the same staffmg level of FY2009, meaning we would not lose any positions. Commissioner Dickey also told me that she could get Judge Foster and Commissioner Mayfield (District 4) to support this as well. (You have to have minimum three votes to get a court order passed). • We talked about doing a joint press conference to announce our efforts to ensure public safety by not cutting the DA's budget and by coming together to purchase a fmgerprinting machine that would allow the Sheriff's Office to replace their manual fmgerprinting process with an electronic method. • During this one-on-one discussion, Commissioner Dickey also raised the issue of investigating two Dallas County constables and suggested that I appoint a special prosecutor. Frank Crowley Courts Building. 133 N. Industrial Blvd., L.B. 19 • Dallas, Texas 75207-4399 • 214/653-3600 August 20-21 • Over the next two days, I am talking back and forth individually to Commissioner Dickey, Judge Foster and the chief of our Civil Division to fmalize what I believe to be the best solution to our budget crisis and to ensure that we had the necessary support from at least three commissioners to make this a reality. August 24 • On Monday morning, I received a call from our Civil chief and he infonned me that Commissioner Mayfield is on board with supporting not cutting our budget if we contribute the $600K to the fmgerprinting equipment. • Through individual conversations, at this point, we had support from Judge Foster and Commissioners Dickey and Mayfield to fund our office at the same level as 2009. • At 10:38 a.m., our PIO e-mailed a draft of a joint press release to Judge Foster and Sheriff Valdez for their approval and to get a quote from them to include in the release. The purpose of the press release was to announce that the DA and commissioners had reached a solution to the budget crisis that would allow us to ensure public safety by keeping all of our current staff • Within 40 minutes of us sending the draft of the press release over to Judge Foster, we received word that Commissioner Mayfield may not be on board after all. • FYI - By sending out a press release to media it would lock the commissioners into not cutting our budget and prevent them from backing out before the fmal budget vote on September 15th . • A few hours went by on Monday before we received a fmal response from Commissioner Mayfield that he defmitely was not going to support funding our office, meaning we were back to square one of being faced with eliminating 21 positions (down from 40) from our staff August 25 • At Commissioners' Court, commissioners made it crystal clear that they unanimously supported cutting 21 positions from our office. It was also pointed out that there were only 27 positions county-wide being eliminated and that of the 27, 21 were from the DA's Office. • I have made it clear to commissioners that it has been the DA's policy to neither confmn nor deny any investigation. I am not obligated in any way to report to commissioners on potential investigations or criminal cases. • Judge Foster and Commissioners Dickey and Mayfield called a press conference at 1:30 p.m. that afternoon to announce that they were going to hire a special investigator (another 2 unnecessary expense that they seem to have money for) to look into these constables alleged activities. • Reps from our office learned of the press conference and they attended. After the press conference, our PIO invited all of the attending media to come to our office to get a comment from me and they did. Additionally, as you may be aware, there have been several Dallas Morning News articles and blog postings written this week about our office as it relates to this constable investigation issue. I sent a response to a DMN editorial (see attached) to media earlier this week regarding our position on the issue. That's a detailed update on all of the activity that has been going on this week. Please know that I was willing to contribute the $600,000 towards the fmgerprinting equipment if that's what it would take for us to save your job and therefore, ensure public safety. I had to draw the line, however, at allowing the commissioners to take over prosecutorial/investigative responsibilities in investigating criminal activity. Whether or not the constables are guilty of wrongdoing will be decided by this office. Although I was willing to "pay the toll" with $600,000, I was not willing to cede over the responsibilities of this office for their political agenda. We have two weeks left until the commissioners' fmal vote on the budget on September 15th . Although it seems any ideas we suggest are falling on deaf ears, I am going to continue challenging the issue and trying to come up with win-win solutions until the very end. In addition, it is my understanding that Commissioner Mayfield is scheduled to have his next town hall meeting at the City of Irving's City Hall (same place where we had ours) on Monday, August 31, 2009, at 7:00 p.m. We need to have a strong presence of concerned Dallas County citizens and staff at that meeting. Know that I have your best interest at heart with the goal of providing adequate public safety. At the end of the day, this will all work out to our benefit and to the benefit of all the citizens of Dallas County. Sincerely, Craig 3
"Criminal Attorney in Dallas Texas"