Dallas Observer: Sen. Royce West often sides with politically powerful who pay his bills

Does Royce West's legal work affect his public stance on local issues?

That's the theory of Jim Schutze, the Dallas Observer's political writer, in a post for the paper's blog, Unfair Park.

There Schutze argues that the state senator, whose southern Dallas constituents don't exactly make up the city's monied elite, often sides with the politically powerful because they're the ones who help pay his bills.

As an example, he points out that officials with the Dallas Independent School District, which paid West's firm more than $600,000 last year, worked with the state senator to discuss cutting funding for the district's learning centers. Dallas ISD opened the learning centers in the 1980s as a response to a long-running federal lawsuit outlining decades of purposeful segregation.

Schutze argues that a prominent black leader like West would be expected to be fighting Dallas ISD's plans, not facilitating them.
"The learning centers are sacrosanct in South Dallas. Any black politician who turned his back publicly on them would be toast -- no, he or she would be little burnt crumbs at the bottom of the toaster.

So where did the superintendent and the board president and the top district executives hold all their important confabs when they were planning their assault on the learning centers? That came out at the last board meeting too: Royce West's office."

Schutze was commenting on our story about how West's law firm billed local governments and agencies $1 million last year for legal represenation.

The Dallas Morning News' City Hall blog also linked to our report on West, as well as the online journal Unworthy Bum.