Friday, July 31, 2015

Hell has frozen over: Ballpark Vote — a change in position

Earlier today (Friday), I posted that KAMR’s story exposed another sneaky move buried in the Local Government Corp.-City Council-Downtown Amarillo Inc. contract for the downtown parking garage. The promoters of the Wallace Bajjali-DAI plan have placed a requirement that downtown Amarillo be “blessed” with parking meters in addition to the multi-million parking structure.

The purpose is pretty clear: People are either going to pay for parking downtown on the street or in the garage, come Hell or high water (of which we have plenty lately).

Let’s put aside the pro and con arguments of the garage and parking meters. Instead, let’s look at some underlying points:

Another Wallace Bajjali-DAI City Council sleaze move exposed

I don’t normally use KAMR, Amarillo’s Channel 4 NBC affiliate, as a source for my blogging. In this case, however, the station’s story Thursday did the community a real service by exposing another sneaky and sleazy move by the Wallace Bajjali-Downtown Amarillo Inc. downtown development gang.

The comments under the story on KAMR’s Facebook page are the ones to look at because, interestingly, no one commented on the story on the station’s own website. That aside, the revelation adds to the screams for a deeper more thorough investigation into the entire downtown development planning process, the role that former city councilors/commissioners have played and for exactly whom Melissa Dailey is carrying water.

This one provision alone should be the proverbial “straw that breaks the camel’s back” to kill of the entire Wallace Bajjali-Downtown Amarillo Inc.-inspired debacle.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Globe-News to Amarillo: Shut Up!

Short and sweet: On the heels of the Amarillo Globe-News’ decision to cut off comments, as is its right of course, the out-of-town owned propaganda organ has decided Amarilloans are too stupid to make decisions about the future of their town. The headline on the editorial on Wednesday says it all.

“Editorial: Parts of downtown development cannot be debated.”

Oh, yes it can. And thanks to ABC 7 News/KVII, the members of the public who could not attend the Tea Party-sponsored presentation but had internet could watch a live stream of the event. This was the event that had UTSA Prof. Heyward Sanders joined the other rational voices in deconstructing the Wallace Bajjali-Downtown Amarillo Inc.-Amarillo Globe-News plan for downtown development.

As part of incredible public service to this community, ABC 7 News/KVII hosted a town hall last week, moderated by prominent journalist Mark Hyman. The public service in The Panhandle Spirit continues with the posting of that meeting here.

Meanwhile, here’s a message to the Globe-News quoting Archie Bunker, “Stifle yourself.”

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Spread the Word

Now that the Amarillo Globe-News has disabled comments, it’s hardly worth going to its website. EXCEPT, the paper keeps propagandizing on its news and opinion pages. I suspect the reason was so much push back from commenters who joined me in calling out the lies and deconstructing the spin.

I have done several posts that deconstruct the Globe-News content and, to the extent possible, will continue to do so. I would like to ask a favor of all of you who are reading the posts, either directly or after being directed from my two Facebook pages. Please feel free to comment and please share these as far and wide as you can. We must neutralize the insider propaganda machine. Remember one of my favorite quotes, from “Markings,” by the late United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld, “The madman shouted in the market place. No one stopped to answer him. Thus it was confirmed that his thesis was incontrovertible.”

Deconstructing the AGN propaganda

I will continue to be relentless in calling out the Amarillo Globe-News for propagandizing and acting
without the slightest speck of journalism ethics. If you look at the last few posts to this blog, you’ll see I gave no quarter.

So, again, Sunday, the paper’s editorial attempts to sway opinion — as is its right — with a sleazy tactic of condemning something in total ignorance and undercutting it with “information” that wouldn’t survive critical thinking.

The editorial refers to the public forum Monday featuring University of Texas at San Antonio Professor Heywood Sanders, author of a book entitled “Convention Center Follies;” the book questions whether convention center projects engender economic, or in Amarillo’s cases, downtown development. Propagandist-in-Chief Dave Henry, carrying the water for Mr. Conflict-of-Interest Les Simpson, asserts that Sanders’ information should be discounted a priori (Hey, Dave and Les, that means ahead of hearing the information). The Globe-News believes that two guys with a consulting firm whose business is built on fostering the building of convention, sports and other venues carry equal weight to a professor. In other words, the Globe-News is telling you to discount an academic with no dog in any of these fights and accept the word of guys whose livelihood depends on cities suffering from an edifice complex.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Amarillo's cancer: What's the cure?

I’ve been thinking about this post for a long time. And, I believe I am putting myself at personal risk, as much or more risk than since The Amarillo Independent did a story with KVII in 2008 on a molestation accusation involving former Potter County Commissioner Joe Kirkwood. At the time, several people warned me that the Potter County sheriff’s office and possibly the Amarillo Police Department could be used against me. Given the recent events involving law enforcement in Amarillo and elsewhere in the United States, it’s clear that anyone, but especially a person of color, can be one punch, fist strike, baton blow or one Taser jolt away from death. And for no legitimate reason. That said, this isn’t a condemnation of the good and honest law enforcement personnel, although the blue wall of silence puts the good ones at risk for speaking out.

But the recent events in Amarillo are indicative of a more metastasized cancer in our community than some bad cops. So, bear with me as I connect the dots.

To understand the sources of this cancer, it’s necessary to understand Amarillo’s media landscape.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Fighting against the truth

The Amarillo Globe-News, without notice or explanation, shut down comments on its website a couple of days ago. Then, Friday, it posted a story outlining the situation.

The Globe-News quoted the publisher, Les Simpson, thus, “But allowing those on our website to call out people by name and make accusations against them — sometimes criminal — isn’t fair and won’t be tolerated in the future unless you put your name by it. And even then, comments that make factual claims that aren’t substantiated may be deleted even if the author is known.”

I truly believe this arises out of some of the solid and scathing deconstruction of Downtown Amarillo Inc., Les and the whole hotel-garage-ball park thing. Les has a huge ego and he and his allies are fighting to preserve this three-legged deal. Of course, if he has more invested than ego, he may have more motivation to stifle dissent. And none of this discussion on the Globe-News site was at risk until the composition of the City Council changed and put the Wallace Bajjali plans at risk. So, let’s see if Les plays this fair and square.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Lies and propaganda continue on downtown development

I have tried to lay back on the latest vomit of Wallace Bajjali-Downtown Amarillo Inc. loving
propaganda and lies, especially the absolutely shameless spew in the Amarillo Globe-News. But sooner or later, someone who has covered this issue from the start needs to stand up and look you Wallace Bajjali-DAI lovers in the eyes and tell you how full of crap you are.

First, Dailey and DAI will lie and tell you anything to make you believe this doomed-to-failure scheme. The claims are too many to list, but they start with the claim of due diligence about Wallace Bajjali and they were reputable people. Ask around town.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Well, that got your attention

Well that got your attention

As Amarillo moved toward Tuesday’s City Council meeting, we expected fireworks. After all, two of the new councilors got our attention calling for the resignation of City Manager Jarrett Atkinson and dismissal of the board of the Amarillo Economic Development Corp.

Today’s meeting started with pulling those two items off the agenda, moving consideration of Atkinson’s status back to his normal personnel evaluation cycle. And, no decision on the AEDC board will occur until after another joint meeting between the City Council and AEDC.

So after all the name-calling, we learn that the two new councilors are capable of compromise. Just as many mistook the seemly precipitous action for “knee-jerk,” don’t mistake the compromise of lack of resolve. There is more than meets the eye.

Trust me on this.

Call the investigation and stop the name-calling

Some of my friends are rallying to the defense of the entrenched crew at city hall, calling two of the
new councilors, Mark Nair and Randy Burkett, members of the “knee jerk party.” Mayor Paul Harpole is on the attack, going as far as calling Burkett a liar. There is more to this whole issue and I add this information to the blog to let people know.

I covered City Hall for steadily from 2007-2013. I watched Harpole in action. A now-former city councilor one complained to me about how Harpole treated her and others and tried to even bully her and others. When I ran the Indy full-time during the 2013 campaign, former employees from the old Ford dealership contacted us to complain about Harpole’s temper.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Time to start the investigation

In early August 2014, a couple of folks met to explore the idea of launching a slate for the now-recent municipal elections. The slate would carry the name “Reform Amarillo.”

We never got that off the ground, but I played with some planks for a platform focused on downtown development. I thought these ideas would resonate with the voters who wanted to reject the insider dealings and the Wallace Bajjali-Downtown Amarillo Inc. plans. Since then, of course events overlook this platform. But, still, are the key elements:

And then the you-know-what hit the fan


That was a favorite term that the late Leonard Nimoy’s character, Spock, used on the iconic “Star Trek.” it was reserved for observations that had no obvious explanation but nevertheless were unusual or interesting.

It can also be applied to the goings-on at Amarillo’s City Hall in the wake of a new majority on the City Council. Let’s recap briefly.

In May, two incumbents who supported the Wallace Bajjali-Downtown Amarillo Inc. downtown plan fell to challengers. You remember Wallace Bajjali? It was the master developer firm of fraudsters the old City Council hired, despite warnings. And then Amarillo joined Joplin, Mo., Waco and Kingswood as victims of these snake oil salesmen. But, the status quo candidates, who spun the Wallace Bajjali mistake as inconsequential, lost decisively to challengers who don’t want the status quo or the full plan without more public input. A month later, the third anti-status quo, pro-transparency candidate beat the “establishment” candidate in a landslide.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Lessons from the sessions

Advance Amarillo is on Facebook crowing about the great turn out and support for the Wallace Bajjali-Downtown Amarillo Inc. plan for downtown development.

“A big thank you to everyone who voiced their support for the plans to revitalize downtown today, it was a good day!” reads the post. And one of the supporters, a Sally Jennings, responded, “Today was a great day for the citizens of Amarillo!! Those that want to create and do something good and make this a great city spoke up and were heard. 99% positive comments!!!!”

Here are some major takeaways about the Wednesday session.

It is a dog and pony show

As I begin to write this at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday as I follow the ABC 7 News/KVII live streaming, Richard Brown, one of the key players on the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, Local Government Corp. and the lawyer who helped establish Downtown Amarillo Inc., is wrapping up his presentation.

It is now 3¾-hours past the time for public comment. It is a typical ploy to wear down the opposition to the topic of this. Further, the three-minute limit is a further ploy to stifle opposition to the agenda of the dog-and-pony show.

I urge the new councilors to stand strong on this.

I also know that the City Council has the power to conduct an investigation, using subpoena power and ability to put witnesses under oath. I urge them to do so to drill further down on some of the presentations today.

And so it begins …. change at Amarillo City Hall -UPDATED

The winds of change are sweeping through City Hall faster than a lot of people would have predicted.

Just hours after his installation as a city councilor, Mark Nair joined with Elisha Demerson and Randy Burkett to call for City Manager Jarrett Atkinson’s resignation and the resignation of the board of the Amarillo Economic Development Corp., according to ABC 7 News, which reported this first. Other media have jumped in to flesh out the story.

Mayor Paul Harpole and Councilor Brian Eades are in no position to halt the long-overdue clean-up of City Hall.