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Sheriff Jim Bowles

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06/06/19  Dallas Managed News  distorting the truth -- as usual.

  When Danny Chandler and the Dallas County Republican Party leadership were out to unseat Sheriff Jim Bowles in the Republican Primary of 2004, I stuck with Sheriff Bowles.  I acknowledged he had been a long time friend of my late father and had really been there for us during my Dad's final days.

I also thought he was the best man for the job, although Danny Chandler would have made a good sheriff.

Well, Sheriff Bowles did not win the primary.  He was beaten by another Republican, just like he defeated Sheriff Don Byrd in the Republican primary almost two decades earlier.  Unlike Sheriff Byrd, Jim Bowles did not go away quietly and let the Republican candidate have a united party behind him.  Although many GOP activists have said otherwise, Sheriff Bowles denies that he made any donation to the Lupe Valdez campaign, particularly not the rumored $5,000. 

I heard that I helped Lupe Valdez, which I didn't.  This is the first time I have heard I gave her any money, which I didn't. 

I will give double to anyone who can show that I gave her a penny!  This is ridiculous!  I didn't HAVE $5000.  I had to pay my last campaign debts out of my own funds. By raising the claim of campaign funds abuse immediately before the election, they made it so I couldn't raise any money even for myself. (That was real clever of them!)

Can you make my denial any more emphatic? 

James Bowles

By the way the DMN is blaming Valdez's failures on Jim Bowles, you would think she defeated him and not Danny Chandler.

It's Time for Results: What does Valdez have to show for 18 months?
Saturday, June 10, 2006; Editorial Page,
   Frankly, sheriff, this isn't what we expected.
   We knew when we supported your bid for Dallas County sheriff in 2004 that you faced a hill steeper than Reunion Tower. Pick your obstacle ? outsider, Democrat, gay, Hispanic, woman crashing the good-ol'-boys club.
   So we also knew it wouldn't be easy for Lupe Valdez, and we expected no overnight miracles. In fact, if this were six months into your term, we wouldn't be writing this editorial. Jim Bowles left you a mess. Fixing it would take time.
   But time is slipping away. The end of June will mark 18 months in office. What have you accomplished during this period?
   Start with the relentless negative headlines ? "knuckle-dragger" comments by a commander you hired, continued health care abuses in the jail, another failing grade on a state jail inspection, a federal investigation into your jail, detention officer overtime running out of control or your personal failure to pass the state licensing exam.
   Any or all of these things can and do happen in a department with a $90 million budget, 1,700 employees and responsibility for 7,000 to 9,000 inmates on an average day.
   What troubles us is your public reaction to these problems and the apparent absence of a plan ? based on your vision ? to keep them from happening again. From speaking with you this week, we do not believe you completely recognize the enormity of the problems or your responsibility for fixing them.
... We wrote last July that the time had come for you to step up and show the leadership skills your most ardent supporters say you possess. We know that the Sheriff's Department is about 80 percent jail management and 20 percent law enforcement.
... We hope it's not too late to turn the ship around, but it's critical that the public sees waves breaking. Here are a few suggestions: ...
   Be more visible, effective immediately. When big news is breaking ? good, bad or otherwise ? it's important that the sheriff, not a subordinate, is in front of the minicams. ...
Focus on vision. In our conversations, you sound more like someone who works for the sheriff, executing instead of directing. ...
Commit decisively. Describe a problem, outline a plan for fixing it ? not a rehash of steps taken to date ? and make it happen. Take a lesson from Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle; agree with him or not, there's no question who's running that department.
Stop saying, "Things I can't control" and "I'm not a politician." The first only reminds us of the things you should be able to control. As to the second, you chose to seek the sheriff's job. It's a political position in a hardball political county. Politics goes with the job. ...
Solicit good advice. We hear conflicting reports ? either you won't reach out or won't accept counsel you get ? but you can't figure all this out on your own. Your work history as a jailer and federal agent did not fully prepare you to run a department of this size and scope. ...
Pass that licensing test. Don't give your detractors another stick to whack against your head. Make it a priority to prepare, even if you have to give up a few speaking engagements.

Sheriff Bowles responded to the DMN's editorial, but they refuse to print his Letter to the Editor, although they have now printed two blaming him and not Lupe Valdez for her failures.  Allen Gwinn posted Sheriff Bowles' response on

Robert Wilonsky ('s Unfair Park: The Dallas Observer Blog) has been writing about Sheriff Valdez's failure to pass her licensing test as a law enforcement officer, and wrote this piece about the DMN blaming Sheriff Bowles for the deplorable situation the department is in under Valdez:

Unfair Park: The Dallas Observer Blog
Sheriff Bowles: Gone, But Not Forgetting

   On Friday, The Dallas Morning News ran an editorial regarding the poor job performance of Sheriff Lupe Valdez?or, as the paper version of Unfair Park put it in Matt Pulle?s cover story a few weeks ago, ?Sheriff Who?? The editorial offered some suggestions about, among myriad other things, how Valdez could do a better job running a jail that?s being investigated by the feds (it?s amazing there was enough room in the entire paper, much less on the editorial page), but it also gave her an out: The mess at the Dallas County Sheriff?s Department ain?t her fault. No, really. Said the braintrust at Dallas? Only Daily: ?Jim Bowles left you a mess. Fixing it would take time.?
Which came as news to Jim Bowles. So, on Saturday, he dashed off a letter to The News damning the paper for blaming him, when the real fault, he insists, lies at the feet of the Dallas County Commissioners Court that refused to give him more money for more jailers and more room for all the prisoners the state stuck him with. Though the paper?s yet to publish his missive, you can read a version of it at; Allen Gwinn asked the ex-sheriff to fax him the letter, which he posted to the blog two days ago. In short, it says this: 

?When will you get it?
Nobody can succeed as Sheriff as long as the Commissioner?s Court says NO!?

   I called Bowles yesterday to ask him precisely why he sent the letter: to defend Valdez or to stand up for himself? He said he was doing a little bit of both.
   ?It was more of a case of, let?s clear the air,? he said Sunday evening. ?The News sees fit to come up with an editorial that lambasts the sheriff, and they couldn?t leave me out of it. Damn it, leave me alone. That was the ol? straw that broke the camel?s back. I am not her defender, and I am not her assailant. God doesn?t work that way. I feel compassion for her. She has to do it on her own. I am thankful for the people who helped me do my job during 19 years in office, and I feel grief and sorrow for the people who sabotaged my department in the last year and tried to grease the wheels to make me lose. God?ll get them.?
   That soliloquy came at the end of a 90-minute phone call, during which Bowles quoted Shakespeare (?The evil that men do lives after them/The good is oft interred with their bones?), damned the media for failing to clear his name after a judge threw out all the charges the Dallas and Collin county district attornies lobbed at him regarding his relationship with commisary vendor Jack Madera in 2003 and ?04 and offered his account of how the Dallas County Commissioners Court refused to provide him with the funds and folks necessary to run an overcrowded jail that, during his tenure, passed 18 of 19 inspections with the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. While much of the conversation was off the record, this much became crystal-clear: Damned if Bowles is going to let the media or the county commissioners or anyone else continue to portray him as a man who let the sheriff?s department go to ruin.
   For instance, he talked at great length about commissioner Mike Cantrell?s assertion ?in Pulle?s September piece about health conditions in the jail?that Bowles refused to let commissioners even into the jail. That, Bowles says with a slight rise in his voice, ?is a bald-faced lie. I begged those people to come over there. Jim Jackson, when he was commissioner, came over a few times and worked a shift. Ask Cantrell how that happened if I wouldn?t let them into the jail.? He insisted the commissioners refused his pleas for more staff, for better medical facilities, for ?more realistic pay.? As he put it, ?Dallas County?s at the very bottom of the scale. We?re the fifth-largest jail in the country, and they?re paid more in Duncanville to handle book-ins for overdue library books than Dallas is to handle what we have to, which is prisoners of all ages, all sexes, those who are pre- and post-adjucation from class-C misdemeanors to felonies.? And he talked about his family?s history in law enforcement?his grandfather was a deputy marshall, his father a Dallas police officer?and how being a peace officer ?is what God created me for.?
   Keep in mind, this was to be a short chat about a short letter sent to another newspaper. But two years after being hung out to dry?by, Bowles insists, the media and people with whom he worked?the man wants it known he will accept no more blame for having done what he believed to have been a good job. ?I will not knowingly do anything wrong,? he insisted. ?But that?s the way life is, fella. Doesn?t make a damned bit of difference how well you do or for how long you do it. If somebody decides to turn on you, you?d better watch your back side.? Spoken like a man who still runs a county jail.

?Robert Wilonsky

Again, I have a personal friendship with Sheriff Bowles, but I've always been friendly when I saw Lupe Valdez at some political function.  If she's not a politician, how come she's run for two different offices?

Sheriff Bowles called me the weekend the
DMN editorial came out blaming him for Valdez' poor management abilities and lack of success as Dallas County Sheriff.  We agreed to wait a few days to see if The Dallas Managed News  would print his letter.  Allen Gwinn went ahead and posted it, on the reasonable assumption that no one at the DMN would bother reading anything not spoon fed to them. 

Well, it's been over a week, and the jerks at the
DMN have not posted Sheriff Bowles' letter, but they did post this piece of garbage from someone who doesn't even live in Dallas County:

Letters to the Editor
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Sheriff inherited a mess
I did not hear anyone asking "the good ol' boy" who was sheriff for 19 years why everything was run down and a mess, yet you expect Sheriff Lupe Valdez to have it all cleaned up in 18 months?
  Get real.
  No, she is not one to want to be in the spotlight. Instead, she is busy doing what she is supposed to do ? working. Had the prior sheriff been asked that just once during his tenure, Sheriff Valdez would not have inherited such a mess.  
Gudrun Dey, Plano

They also posted a piece from a Democrat party activist defending Valdez and blaming her problems on her predecessor (who donated a bunch of money to help her get elected).

Letters to the Editor
Letters: Sheriff, it's time for results
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
18 months isn't long enough to fix so much
hile I agree with the goals that you suggested for Sheriff Lupe Valdez, I think you give too much credence to her detractors, some of whom are responsible for ? and for continuing ? the "perfect storm" of problems in the past 18 months.
   She has worked diligently to fix the many problems she inherited. Many were not evident when she took over ? for example, the flawed budget process for her department at the Commissioners Court.
  Eighteen months may seem like a long time, but it is really a short time to correct all the problems that accumulated over years of neglect and conscious indifference. I am confident she will prevail.

Scott Chase, Dallas

Scott Chase is someone else who I totally admire.  I cannot believe that he was defeated in the Democrat Primary by former councilwoman Rose Renfro.  The way she ran her primary race was the same kind of councilwoman she was for Oak Cliff -- duplicitous and deceitful.  And, that was on a good day!

Still, Scott's assertion that "
She has worked diligently to fix the many problems she inherited." just does not jive with the reality of the Sheriff Department's problems under her poor management.  If any CEO takes over a troubled company and can't show improvements in 12 months, they aren't likely to be there in 18 months.

Sheriff Bowles would agree with Scott's statement that "
the flawed budget process for her department at the Commissioners Court" is the real culprit behind the former and current problems of the Sheriff's Department.

Here is the full text of Sheriff Bowles e-mail to The Dallas Managed News, which they refuse to post:

Re: Editorial 6-9-06

When will you get it?

Nobody can succeed as Sheriff as long as the Commissioners Court says, NO! 

Under the law, the Sheriff is obligated to plead (beg) for the funds needed to operate. Under the law, the Commissioners Court can say NO!

For 19 of 20 years, I operated a model department.  I didn't suddenly lose it in my 20th year.  The department was sabotaged to run me out of office.  The public doesn't know I was offered a deal to withdraw my candidacy.
I spoke heresy to the court!  I suggested (begged) the court to raise taxes, and to blame me.  I asked (begged) them to raise taxes the equivalent of 1 cup of coffee per taxpayer, per month, and they panicked!

The court arbitrarily kept taxes frozen in the 19
? per $100 range while all the other counties including Tarrant, Denton, Collin, Rockwall, Ellis and Johnson, were collecting 30?+ per $100. And the News refused to support my plea for help.

I begged for more space, more staff, more supervisors, more training, better medical service and realistic pay.  I more than paid for these requests with a few hundred-million dollars, non-tax revenue I raised for Dallas County, including my acquisition of the Kays Jail property.  

Now, look at the current complaints: Shortage of space, shortage of staff, shortage of supervisors, inadequate training, problems with medical service and the LOWEST PAY in the region.

As the great Yogi Berra said, "It's deja vu all over again."

However, the News joined the Commissioners Court in phony complaints against me: $75 airplane ticket (permitted by law), $300 in business lunches (permitted by law), and these were paid for by John Sammons and Mid-State Corp., NOT by Mr. Jack Madera, as you insisted on reporting.

And the News' disingenuous complaint of my investing campaign funds was the worst example of misinformation in the entire crusade to discredit my years of honorable service. At the same time you were slamming me, I furnished your reporter with a news story of Senator Trent Lott having to borrow campaign funds from a bank because his funds, invested in stock, had lost too much for him to cash them in. (Deja vu again!) The News refused to even acknowledge the Lott story. Again, investing funds was a legal undertaking, but the News wanted a grand jury investigation.

Now, the News could do an honorable thing.  Instead of continuing to take shots at me, let me be retired in peace - I've earned it.  

The News could quit cozying-up with the Commissioners Court.  The News could put their feet to the fire., require them to do the fullest extent of their duty...FUND COUNTY OPERATIONS adequately. Don't let them use artificially derived and inadequate tax rates as Political Puffery to falsely suggest superior performances.

It is their duty to be honestly efficient; not cheap tightwads. You certainly weren't reluctant to exercise your journalistic prowess on me. With qualified candidates avoiding serving for just these reasons, you chose to exercise journalistic folly in your ploy to destroy my 55-year public service career.

Is the Court immune to your scrutiny? The public expects integrity from the News as well.

When will you get it?

James Bowles

Things are never going to be fair, but Dallas Managed News  has long since abandoned its roots, much less fair play.  Most of their columnists, like Macarena Whatever, are not from Dallas and have no ties to our city or history or needs.

Lupe Valdez has not been honest about her unsuccessful efforts to pass her licensing exams.  She claimed not to have studied for it, but to have expected her life experiences and "common sense" to get her through it.  The Dallas Observer has reported otherwise, that she did study extensively for the test prior to taking it, but that in fact she was not eligible to take it in the first place.

Unfair Park: The Dallas Observer Blog
Valdez Can Take the Test. But Can She Pass It?
June 13, 2006

Well, Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez has belatedly qualified to take the mandatory licensing test she flunked in April. The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards tells us the sheriff has at last provided the proper documentation she needs to take the test, corroborating that she was a federal agent in good standing who had completed a basic peace officer?s class. The first time Valdez took her exam, she wasn?t actually eligible to take it?it?s a rather long bureaucratic story, but suffice to say it hints at the sheriff?s office own disorganization. Valdez spent the better part of three months studying for the test the first time around and fell just four points shy of a passing score. ?Matt Pulle

Let's allow Jim Bowles to have his private retirement.  He served Dallas County well.

Let's put the blame where it belongs.  Lupe Valdez did not expect to win the Sheriff's job; she couldn't even get elected to the Dallas County Education Board (that obscure board where Larry Duncan serves that controls Dallas County school buses).  She's a sweet person, but she is in over her head.

The fact that she is not qualified and could not pass the standard law enforcement licensing test that over 60% pass the first time is not the fault of Jim Bowles.  She is a politician who ran for a political office for which she was not and is not qualified.  That does not make her a bad person, but it sure makes her a bad person for the job she holds.

I don't know who will win the Republican Primary, but if that person is someone with law enforcement experience and management experience, Lupe Valdez will be a one-term Sheriff.  We've had them before.






  Ward politics is the Devil's key to the soul of the city council.  It is how some council members got themselves in trouble in the past.  It is the bait that will get others in trouble in the future. 4/6/8