Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Honor the veterans today

I know today is Veterans Day and, as many of you, I am grateful for the service and sacrifices these people made to protect our freedoms.

One of the most important freedom is the First Amendment, which guarantees our right to speak freely, publish freely and petition our government. While many on the national level rightly complain that the corporate oligarchy has captured the federal government, we sometimes overlook that local government can be a runaway train. Such is the case in Amarillo as the City Council is slated to vote on contracts related to downtown development. Chelsea Goss, my friend at ProNews 7, noted this upcoming vote on Daybreak. And if you look further back in this blog, you’ll find “Downtown Misdirection,” which also exposes the flaws in the City Council’s current approach to revitalizing downtown.

The link to Veterans Day? Many sacrificed for your right to tell the City Council your desires, even if it contradicts its misguided efforts. The City Council meets today at 1:30 p.m. in a work session in the council conference room in the city manager’s office suite. It is an open meeting and where the substantive discussion is undertake. It is also an open meeting and, despite the close quarter, the public can attend. Unless, of course, the council skulks off into an executive session charade under the guise of consulting with its attorney over the downtown development contracts. The City Council will then meet at 3 p.m. in its big chambers for the Kabuki dance of voting on that which they have already decided.

If your ministry today is to honor veteran by speaking up — pro or con — on this important issue, you now know where to go.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Globe-News is hypocritical and the City Council cowards

I’ve been a journalist for almost 20 years and in all that time I’ve never seen a community in which the newspaper of record was such a lapdog and so unwilling to do the real job of the Fourth Estate. It borders on journalistic malfeasance.

The City Council is on the verge of signing contracts for construction of a downtown convention center hotel and a parking garage with its master developer, Wallace Bajjali Development Partners. The councilors, led by Mayor Stiff Hair in all his arrogance, popped the plans on the community this past Wednesday. The one and only public meeting was last Thursday. The council and its cohorts have skulked behind the public’s back since 2010 and now, in less than a week, councilors plan to adopt contracts that break a string of promises to the taxpayers, citizens and voters of Amarillo.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Is the city of Amarillo being honest about fixing animal control?

The city of Amarillo and its city councilors continue to assure the public that all is well and the city is making great progress on cleaning up problems what was formerly called the Animal Control Department.

But that isn’t true, according to two former officers at that department. Those officers spoke exclusively to ProNews 7 and, in a report that aired at 10 p.m. Oct. 30, these former city workers discounted the city management’s contention that things are better. Niki Niimi and Brittainy Hall did something rare in Amarillo. They bravely came forward to and spoke out against the powerful city government.

The city knew this report was coming and at 5:39 p.m. Oct. 30 issued a press release that was the city’s attempt at a pre-emptive strike against the truths to come from ProNews 7. The extensive release tries to put lipstick on a pig; other than the two top managers being gone, the below-par employees remain. And the two top managers were, disgracefully, allowed to retire instead of being fired.

And, ProNews 7’s David Grasso-Ortega, one of ProNews 7’s investigative reporters, has promised to probe the news release further. Stay tuned.

City press release 2014-10-30

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Close enough for government work?

A few days ago, I was floating around on Facebook when I saw a logo for the Alliance Defending Freedom for Faith and Justice. This is inarguably a fundamentalist oriented Christian organization that — with cleverly vague language — advocates for its views to be pushed into our secular society.

But, what interested me about the Alliance’s logo is how it struck me as similar to the City of Amarillo’s logo. You know, the second logo after the city learned the first one proposed was plagiarized from a firm in the Middle East. You know, the logo the city chose after a contest it held during one of the city’s many rolls in the hay with the Amarillo Globe-News.

So, tell me, folks, it the “A” too close for comfort?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Amarillo animal control still flawed

This is the first of two reports on the City of Amarillo's animal control department. It would seem the city is not only having trouble making the positive changes needed at the shelter but also having trouble controlling the message. Kudos to KVII Pronews 7 and David Grasso-Ortega for not backing off on this story.