When Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway handed Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick a key to the city of Dallas on Saturday, he was really opening the lock to another controversy at City Hall.
What the key meant to Vick–who admitted brutalizing and killing dogs for entertainment and served 19 months in prison–is hard to say.
The gesture, and the outcry that ensued, led to a quick call from Mayor Tom Leppert that the city review how council members hand out ceremonial gifts, with the clear suggestion that guidelines become more restrictive.
The key that Caraway gave Vick–a gold-hued, six-inch key bearing the seal of Dallas–is less than official, according to explanations from city officials.
The official “keys” to Dallas are made from gold or crystal and are given out mainly to foreign dignitaries under strict protocol.
But all council members are permitted to hand out token keys, at a cost of $25 apiece, to whomever they please. So it was that Kiss’ Gene Simmons got an unofficial key from council member Steve Salazar last week.
The way council members pass out unofficial keys sometimes raises hackles at City Hall, in large part because they so often seem to end up in the hands of celebrities.
Caraway insisted, however, that Vick deserved the honor he received because he has, in Caraway’s eyes, turned his life around and dedicated himself to keeping kids from making the same mistakes he did.
Council member Delia Jasso, a strong advocate for decent treatment of animals, said she didn’t know enough to say whether Caraway’s action was appropriate. But she did say that she believes Vick has made strides in convincing some animal advocates that he is serious about reform.
Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway of Dallas.