Saturday, February 28, 2015

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Special Announcement from The Amarillo Independent

In November 2013, I posted a disclosure on this blog that I was consulting with KVII, now known as ABC 7 News or ABC7 Amarillo. My agreement with ABC 7 News recognized that I could help promote ABC 7 News and indulge in punditry here. That post also made clear the opinion blogging here was distinct and separate from ABC 7 News.

I have made my views clear, without interfering with my ABC 7 News role, that Amarillo’s City Council and City Hall leadership have failed miserably on several fronts. The city hired Wallace Bajjali Development Partners despite warnings the firm was dishonest. Four years later, the master developer has vaporized itself, and not one city councilor has acknowledged what a filthy mess they have made of downtown development.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Train service to Amarillo a fading dream

For the past couple of years, the possibility that Amtrak would re-route its iconic Southwest Chief through Amarillo has twinkled like blinking ditch lights. But if the essence of a report in Sunday’s out-of-own owned daily paper, is correct, New Mexico’s Legislature could derail passenger rail service to Amarillo for the foreseeable future. If doesn’t happen, some of the blame can be levied at the Amarillo City Council and city management for their lack of intelligent, incisive and proactive leadership.

In a nutshell, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway’s has severely curtailed maintenance on the section of its current route that takes the Chief over Raton Pass, which the Chief reaches from Newton, Kan., traveling through the corner of Eastern Colorado before turning south and going into New Mexico. The only regular trains over those tracks are the two daily Chief trips, although it’s possible a rare slow freight could use the route. But, track conditions along the route force the Chief to reduce speed and thus degrade its schedule, something Amtrak would rather avoid. To keep the present route at acceptable speed, BNSF has said it needs $200 million over the next 10 years for maintenance, up from $100 million some sources cited some years ago, with the costs shared among BNSF, Amtrak, Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico.

Joplin takes Wallace-Bajjali-gate to heart, Amarillo doesn't

KOAM-TV, the CBS affiliate in Joplin, Mo., has been on top of the Wallace Bajjali story from the start of that city's attempts to recover from a devastating tornado that struck in 2011.

Unlike Amarillo, that city's manager in Joplin is taking the Wallace Bajjali debacle to heart. Here is a story from that KOAM's newscast that provides a stark contrast to the stonewalling from our city's council and manager.


Friday, February 6, 2015

ABC 7 News investigates the Amarillo Commerce Building

ABC 7 News was to run this story on the 10 p.m. news Thursday, but technical difficulties prevented this story from airing. It aired this morning on ABC 7 News’ Daybreak and will air again tonight on the 10 p.m. newscast. It’s the tip of an iceberg. Please let your friends know about this. Urge them to watch it. City elections are coming in May and voters should be aware of how the City Council has handled this and other aspects of Downtown Development.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Lessons from Wallace Bajjali

It’s been ten days since this blog broke the news that Wallace Bajjali, the master developer for Amarillo and Joplin, Mo. had abandoned its offices there and the development’s home office in Sugar Land, Texas.

And a hell of a ten days it was.

The short version of this sordid saga is that The Amarillo Independent broke a story in 2010 raising serious questions about the developer’s sleazy history. We managed to get the City Council’s attention, but the council blew off the concerns. After a litany of problems here and in Joplin, Mo., where their City Council brought in Wallace Bajjali to help the city recover from a devastating 2011 tornado, the firm cratered. The Turner Report has covered the problems in Joplin.