Eclectic commentary from a progressive voice in the reddest part of the red state

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Report: David Wallace claims Amarillo one of 413 creditors

A newly published report in the Sugar Land Sun lists some of David Wallace's creditors and that the former master developer has filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy.Read the full report here.

Our un-Christian "Christians"

If you have been totally out of touch and off the grid, you might be one of the few in the United States not aware with a new and disturbing form of hate. And the saddest and most despicable part of this hatred is that it is being fostered by those claiming to be Christians.

Let’s start with the high-profile passage of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a thinly disguised pro-discrimination measure that would permit businesses to bar those to anyone who the businesses deems unacceptable. According to the Huffington Post, “RFRAwould allow any individual or corporation to cite religious beliefs as a defense when sued by a private party, potentially opening up the door to businesses turning away gay and lesbian customers for religious reasons.”

The Legislature in Arkansas is on its way to passing a similar law, CNNtell us. As outraged and as properly placed as our ire is at these two states, they are but two of 21 states with so-called religious freedom laws. Texas is one of those states, with our own criminal Attorney General Ken Paxton using our tax money to sue the federal government (again!) to prevent the recognition of same-sex couples under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

To me, the issue is simple. Religious precepts have no business driving the law of the land. If your religion believes that same-sex relationships are sinful and bars such marriages, that’s fine if you keep that within your church. If you agree with those rules, enforce and abide by then within your congregation. But to take those views to the legislatures of our country is un-American and unchristian. And, ironically in Texas, where we so value individual freedom and a “stay out of my business” mentality, the judgmental behavior seems to resonate the loudest.


I’ll make this as clear as I can. Who consenting adults love is none of our business. But if certain societal rights, such as benefits, contractual arrangements and other legal matters are tied to the state’s recognition of marriage, then the state cannot pick and choose who is more equal than others under the law. It’s just that simple.

Our un-Christian "Christians"

If you have been totally out of touch and off the grid, you might be one of the few in the United States not aware with a new and disturbing form of hate. And the saddest and most despicable part of this hatred is that it is being fostered by those claiming to be Christians.

Let’s start with the high-profile passage of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a thinly disguised pro-discrimination measure that would permit businesses to bar those to anyone who the businesses deems unacceptable. According to the Huffington Post, “RFRA would allow any individual or corporation to cite religious beliefs as a defense when sued by a private party, potentially opening up the door to businesses turning away gay and lesbian customers for religious reasons.”

Amarillo Councilor Gives Talking Points for Failure

As I posted before, only one councilor responded to my call for responsibility and accountability. While Mayor Paul Harpole and Councilors Lilia Escajeda, Ellen Robertson Green and Ron Boyd didn’t answer or even publicly accept responsibility for the Wallace Bajjali debacle, Brian Eades responded later Feb.2. Over the next several days, I will deconstruct this response. Now, before anyone accuses me of being petty, take note of an important point: Eades’ responses reflect the talking points from councilors and others whose faces are covered with egg over this mess. If voters want to make informed decisions about the May 9 races for the Amarillo City Council, the information I’ll post over the next few days will give you context and a way to make your own judgments.

Click Read More to see Eades’ reply:




George,
Since the publication of the "Downtown Strategic Action Plan - 2008" all of the 3 primary projects have been included. Their inclusion continues. Since that time, we have a new city manager, new mayor and all new city council members technically except for me. We have a new hotel developer, a new TIRZ chair, a new Center City president, a local government corporation and a new DAI executive director. We have a new traffic engineer and even a new animal control director etc. Yes George, things change. As does the weather, economic indices, financial fortunes and your investment portfolio. Thanks heavens for some modicum of continuity. Now, in regards to your statement, I can't for the life of me find a question mark anywhere in there.


Sent from my iPad

Amarillo Councilor Gives Talking Points for Failure

As I posted before, only one councilor responded to my call for responsibility and accountability. While Mayor Paul Harpole and Councilors Lilia Escajeda, Ellen Robertson Green and Ron Boyd didn’t answer or even publicly accept responsibility for the Wallace Bajjali debacle, Brian Eades responded later Feb.2. Over the next several days, I will deconstruct this response. Now, before anyone accuses me of being petty, take note of an important point: Eades’ responses reflect the talking points from councilors and others whose faces are covered with egg over this mess. If voters want to make informed decisions about the May 9 races for the Amarillo City Council, the information I’ll post over the next few days will give you context and a way to make your own judgments.

Click Read More to see Eades’ reply:

Monday, March 30, 2015

Amarillo City Council - Take Responsibility for Mismanagement

On Feb. 2, one of the celebratory activities for my 70thbirthday was to write the members of Amarillo’s City Council about their failure in leading downtown development. My email came just days after we learned that WallaceBajjali Development Partners had cratered, disappearing in Joplin and Sugar Land. The city councils in both cities cancelled contracts with the firm. Click Read More to see what I sent to the councilors and follow this blog as I post the response I got from only one councilor.

Over the past week, several people have asked me how it feels to have been right allalong about Wallace Bajjali.

I am saddened at what the Wallace Bajjali debacle means for this city and its taxpayers and what it says about the arrogant character of this city’s leadership. Your delusions of downtown here have flopped — with a play on the word “here.” Because, as councilors, you would not “hear” people’s concerns, objections and suggestions.

As far back as 2008, when people came to you to defend their homes against your over-reaching design standards, the community saw how stone deaf you were to their needs.

As far back as 2008, you backed Melissa Dailey and Downtown Amarillo Inc. in setting the boundaries for those design standards.

As far back as 2008, when several knowledgeable taxpayers objected to your alliance with the Amarillo Globe-News, you turned a deaf ear. Of course, it was as clear then as it is now that this was done purposely to minimize your exposure to public scrutiny and transparency.

And it is that very lack of transparency that has led this community to rightfully question your integrity and your motivations in leading downtown revitalization. It is your lack of accountability and lack of humility in acknowledging, to date, your poor judgment that will continue the community’s questions about your integrity and motivation.

Your list of mistakes in this debacle is a long one and the hubris I saw as I watched the Jan. 27 City Council meeting, when you spun and sanitized what has occurred, reflects you have learned nothing from your mistakes.

It’s time for you to publicly admit who was right all along, take your licks and repair the damage you did to the city.


Amarillo City Council - Take Responsibility for Mismanagement

On Feb. 2, one of the celebratory activities for my 70th birthday was to write the members of Amarillo’s City Council about their failure in leading downtown development. My email came just days after we learned that WallaceBajjali Development Partners had cratered, disappearing in Joplin and Sugar Land. The city councils in both cities cancelled contracts with the firm. Click Read More to see what I sent to the councilors and follow this blog as I post the response I got from only one councilor.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Amtrak derails Amarillo's hope for passenger train service

The bad news for Amarillo broke in the Santa Fe New Mexican at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Amtrak’s
Southwest Chief will remain on its route through Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico. The hope for a reroute from somewhere in Kansas along the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Transcon is not happening according to the story in the New Mex. The upshot is that Amarilloans will not see train travel in the foreseeable future and the city leaders now much figure out what to do with the old Santa Fe station on which they spent millions of taxpayer dollars.


The rules changed a bit, it seems. The three states originally faced a Jan. 1, 2016 deadline to pony up money to contribute to BNSF’s track maintenance costs. Now, there is no deadline. The Santa Fe newspaper quotes Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari as saying, “We are making progress. There is no imminent cutoff date. … We do not want to move this train to another route.”


The Chief’s two-night daily trips between Chicago and Los Angeles travel some of the most scenic and iconic parts of the American West — the towering Rocky Mountains and the enchanting desert Southwest. The route also echoes the halcyon days of train travel when the luxury Santa Fe Super Chief plied the route, stopping along the way at the famous Harvey Houses.

Amtrak derails Amarillo's hope for passenger train service

The bad news for Amarillo broke in the Santa Fe New Mexican at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Amtrak’s
Southwest Chief will remain on its route through Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico. The hope for a reroute from somewhere in Kansas along the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Transcon is not happening according to the story in the New Mex. The upshot is that Amarilloans will not see train travel in the foreseeable future and the city leaders now much figure out what to do with the old Santa Fe station on which they spent millions of taxpayer dollars.

Amtrak derails Amarillo's hope for passenger train service

The bad news for Amarillo broke in the Santa Fe New Mexican at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Amtrak’sSouthwest Chief will remain on its route through Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico. The hope for a reroute from somewhere in Kansas along the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Transcon is not happening according to the story in the New Mex. The upshot is that Amarilloans will not see train travel in the foreseeable future and the city leaders now much figure out what to do with the old Santa Fe station on which they spent millions of taxpayer dollars.


The rules changed a bit, it seems. The three states originally faced a Jan. 1, 2016 deadline to pony up money to contribute to BNSF’s track maintenance costs. Now, there is no deadline. The Santa Fe newspaper quotes Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari as saying, “We are making progress. There is no imminent cutoff date. … We do not want to move this train to another route.”


The Chief’s two-night daily trips between Chicago and Los Angeles travel some of the most scenic and iconic parts of the American West — the towering Rocky Mountains and the enchanting desert Southwest. The route also echoes the halcyon days of train travel when the luxury Santa Fe Super Chief plied the route, stopping along the way at the famous Harvey Houses.

Friday, March 27, 2015

the More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

In the process of rebuilding my main desktop computer from scratch, I ran across an old file I’d almost forgotten about. It’s an interview by now City Councilor Ellen Robertson Green when she hosted the KACV (now Panhandle PBS) program “Face-to-Face.” I am not certain when the interview was done or when the show aired, but I think it’s in Spring 2009. Based on the references in the interview.



In the context of what is occurring now with the City Council and the election in May, I think you’ll find the interview interesting.




the More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

In the process of rebuilding my main desktop computer from scratch, I ran across an old file I’d almost forgotten about. It’s an interview by now City Councilor Ellen Robertson Green when she hosted the KACV (now Panhandle PBS) program “Face-to-Face.” I am not certain when the interview was done or when the show aired, but I think it’s in Spring 2009. Based on the references in the interview.

How Much Has Changed?

In the process of rebuilding my main desktop computer from scratch, I ran across an old file I’d almost forgotten about. It’s an interview by now City Councilor Ellen Robertson Green when she hosted the KACV (now Panhandle PBS) program “Face-to-Face.” I am not certain when the interview was done or when the show aired, but I think it’s in Spring 2009. Based on the references in the interview. In the context of what is occurring now with the City Council and the election in May, I think you’ll find the interview interesting.


 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

More Amarillo Globe-News Ignorance

I never know whether the Amarillo Globe-News’ editorials are the result of stupidity, ignorance or a calculated Limbaugh-like verbal spew designed to misinform its readers. Knowing what I know about the company, Morris Communications, and the people in Globe-News management, I usually come down on the side of the most negative and cynical interpretation.


So, when today I stumbled on yesterday’s editorial, another in a long line of brainless Obama-bashing, I couldn’t believe how shallow the thinking was. The editorial increases the drumbeat of criticism of the swap of five Taliban Guantanamo Bay prisoners for Bowe Bergdhal, an Army sergeant now facing charges of desertion and “misbehavior before the enemy.” The Globe-News predicts “… the Obama administration will put its best propaganda spin on it, how else should the trade of five terrorists for a soldier now officially charged with desertion be described?”

It’s funny how the Globe-News has a history of accusing Obama and his administration of ignoring the United States Constitution, but in making these assertions, this fifth-rate paper violates one of the basic precepts in our laws — innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. You think I am interpreting the Globe-News’ position too harshly — reading too much into the editorial? Here is another sentence: “It doesn’t matter whether these five Taliban members were high on the Taliban’s ranking of terror-mongers or if they were merely radical lightweights, a 5-for-1 trade for a person who willfully walked away from his post is a horrible policy decision.”

There it is. Straight up, an allegation posted as fact.

And in all the questions the Globe-News posed in the little-minded screed, it never goes beyond the rhetorical technique so well-used by Rush Limbaugh: reinforcing the preconceived notions but not giving all the facts. Does the Globe-News have all the information — the facts? If the editorialist had talked to some of those in the Army who had knowledge of the facts, it would have an ethical obligation to report them. So, either the Globe-News knows the facts and violated ethics by withholding them or, as I said, it doesn’t have them.


No matter how much I object to the way the Obama administration has handled the Patriot Act, stifled and attacked a free press and indulged in political spin, I think it’s important to remember that the Obama administration killed Osama bin Laden and to date we’ve had no terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. We have no idea what is behind this swap, including whether those five Taliban prisoners were turned or served an otherwise intelligence purpose. Even more important, we leave no soldier behind and if, ultimately, Bergdhal has acted dishonorably, I would rather he face our justice than stay with the Taliban. And, until he is indicted, tried and convicted, he remains an American soldier with all the rights and privileges thereto appertaining. If he is guilty, then he should be treated according to our own code of justice.

More Amarillo Globe-News Ignorance

I never know whether the Amarillo Globe-News’ editorials are the result of stupidity, ignorance or a calculated Limbaugh-like verbal spew designed to misinform its readers. Knowing what I know about the company, Morris Communications, and the people in Globe-News management, I usually come down on the side of the most negative and cynical interpretation.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Cruz echoes another villain from history

History is replete with all manner of villains. We need not name them, although anyone with any basic understanding of history could rattle off a half dozen names without a second breath. But one villain in American history comes to mind as I read about Ted Cruz announcing his run for the United States presidency. Note, I did not refer to him by his title “Sen,” referred to as an “honorific” in The Associated Press style. You see, Cruz deserves neither the honor nor the respect the title of senator confers.


Cruz, as many of you will figure out in the future, is a demagogue of the worst order. He is a liar, a purveyor of propaganda and someone who in his best moments wants to destroy the American middle class and create a huge poor underclass. Cruz is part of the evil, Robber Baron-like plutocracy who hates the notion of the very government he want to be part of. And his very voice conjures up the sound of one of the most evil and despicable men and episodes in U.S. history, Joseph McCarthy, the late Republican senator from Wisconsin.

Here, in the climactic moment of the Senate hearing that showed McCarthy for the bully and evil man that he was, even the tone and timbre of his voice sounds like Cruz.



Now, listen to the shorter piece from a recent CNN interview with Cruz.


I rest this part of my case, but there will be more.

Cruz echoes another villain from history

History is replete with all manner of villains. We need not name them, although anyone with any basic understanding of history could rattle off a half dozen names without a second breath. But one villain in American history comes to mind as I read about Ted Cruz announcing his run for the United States presidency. Note, I did not refer to him by his title “Sen,” referred to as an “honorific” in The Associated Press style. You see, Cruz deserves neither the honor nor the respect the title of senator confers.

Developer files bankruptcy

David Wallace, one partner in the now-defunct mater developer for the city of Amarillo, has filed for personal bankruptcy. This information comes via the Joplin Globe's Sarah Okeson in a story posted to that newspaper's website 30 minutes ago. The Turner Report, a Joplin-based blog also reported on the filing.

The bankruptcy filing comes not far behind a posting in the  that revealed that the only successful project Wallace completed was an $84,000 swimming pool in his back yard.


Readers of The Amarillo Independent will recall the extensive reporting on these developers when Les Simpson, the publisher of the Amarillo Globe-News, was president of the Downtown Amarillo Inc. board. He and DAI Executive Director Melissa Dailey came to the then City Commission in November 2010 pushing hard for a quick decision to embrace the now disgraced development firm.

I’ve been away and I apologize.


It’s been 10 days since my last post. It’s not that I don’t have some things to say, and in my mind I am working on two large posts. One will discuss our country’s dystopian future and the other, a more immediate issue, is related to the upcoming Amarillo City Council election.

It’s just sometimes, as passionate as I feel about some things, I don’t feel like engaging. Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth the fight. I’ll be in town for a while and maybe I can regain some energy to do battle again. After all, that is what I like to do.

I’ve been away and I apologize.


It’s been 10 days since my last post. It’s not that I don’t have some things to say, and in my mind I am working on two large posts. One will discuss our country’s dystopian future and the other, a more immediate issue, is related to the upcoming Amarillo City Council election.

It’s just sometimes, as passionate as I feel about some things, I don’t feel like engaging. Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth the fight. I’ll be in town for a while and maybe I can regain some energy to do battle again. After all, that is what I like to do.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Is this ethical?

Service clubs like Lions International, Rotary and Kiwanis provide communities with important and valuable services. So, it is really taking on a sacred cow to criticize such an organization for acting in a marginally ethical way in seeking monetary support for a project of questionable value.

Late last week, I found the document pictured in this post taped to my front door. At first glance the “Statement for Your 2015 American Flag Service” looked like a $30 bill for services already rendered. Those services were for the placement of an American flag in front of my house on five holidays, a service I did not use in 2014 and had no intention of using in 2015. It isn’t until on looks closely at the lower back of the document that you realize it isn’t really a bill. But you really have to understand that you didn’t’ have a subscription to renew. In short, this is unethical, an assertion that
a friend and former member of the Amarillo Kiwanis club backed with me yesterday.

The fact that the club supports the programs and charities listed on the “statement” is nice but really irrelevant. I don’t need an American flag in front of my home to verify my loyalty or patriotism. And, should we want to display a flag on any day, we have our own American flag we can display as we see fit.


Sorry, Kiwanis. You’re wrong.

Is this ethical?

Service clubs like Lions International, Rotary and Kiwanis provide communities with important and valuable services. So, it is really taking on a sacred cow to criticize such an organization for acting in a marginally ethical way in seeking monetary support for a project of questionable value.

Late last week, I found the document pictured in this post taped to my front door. At first glance the “Statement for Your 2015 American Flag Service” looked like a $30 bill for services already rendered. Those services were for the placement of an American flag in front of my house on five holidays, a service I did not use in 2014 and had no intention of using in 2015. It isn’t until on looks closely at the lower back of the document that you realize it isn’t really a bill. But you really have to understand that you didn’t’ have a subscription to renew. In short, this is unethical, an assertion that
a friend and former member of the Amarillo Kiwanis club backed with me yesterday.

The fact that the club supports the programs and charities listed on the “statement” is nice but really irrelevant. I don’t need an American flag in front of my home to verify my loyalty or patriotism. And, should we want to display a flag on any day, we have our own American flag we can display as we see fit.


Sorry, Kiwanis. You’re wrong.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Rick Perry - the reptilian brain

An Open Letter to Rick Perry

Despite your continual assertions that Texas has never executedan innocent person, evidence continues to mount that the state took Cameron Todd Willingham’s life either in error or by malfeasance. Not only was his death on your watch, but you also insulted him and the process at the time of the execution. Further, and even worse, as the state’s Forensic Science Commission marched inexorably toward finding that the original arson investigation was “junk science,” you obstructed justice by tainting that commission with those who you knew would carry your water, like the now-disgraced John Bradley.

The latest salvo buttressing the case that you, prosecutor John H. Jackson and others in power at the time perpetrated the death of an innocent man came March 12 in the Washington Post, which cited the work of the Marshall Project to uncover tawdry dealings between the judge, prosecutor and jailhouse snitch. TheInnocence Project also has a comprehensive review of the case. And, the TexasTribune further demonstrated that you and Bradley partnered to put Willingham on the death gurney. That story also showed Bradley was complicit as you in railroading Willingham so as to protect you for your 2010 governor’s race.

Throughout the controversy here Texas, your reptilian mind used this case as one of the ways to appeal to your blood-thirsty constituency’s reptilian minds — facts and your claimed Christian values be damned. This is not the only case in which you’ve been willing to further political gain with questionable tactics, but it is the one that makes you a murderer. Now, as it’s becoming clear you seek to be the President of these United States, the public has to know that you’re willing to kill for political gain.


It is my fervent wish that the national media — and, yes, I anticipate you’ll attack any of the critical stories as the work of the “liberal” press — will expose you for what I believe you are. And with that exposure, I hope your political career will evaporate. If the nation and Texas are supremely lucky, the prosecution and conviction under your current indictment will make you a convicted felon. How fun would it be to see you fend for yourself behind bars.

Rick Perry - the reptilian brain

An Open Letter to Rick Perry

Despite your continual assertions that Texas has never executedan innocent person, evidence continues to mount that the state took Cameron Todd Willingham’s life either in error or by malfeasance. Not only was his death on your watch, but you also insulted him and the process at the time of the execution. Further, and even worse, as the state’s Forensic Science Commission marched inexorably toward finding that the original arson investigation was “junk science,” you obstructed justice by tainting that commission with those who you knew would carry your water, like the now-disgraced John Bradley.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Real journalism has risks

I don’t believe anyone who signs up to be a reporter has a death wish or purposely puts himself in danger. But, all journalists know that sometimes the job entails risks, especially when the reporter and the news outlet are equally committed to exposing corruption. According to the Santa Fe NewMexican, those risks come home to roost at just such a newspaper Saturday at the weekly Rio Grande SUN in Española, N.M.


The SUN, founded by Robert E. and Ruth Trapp in the 1950s, was just that kind of newspaper. The accolades for the SUN spanned the gamut — statewide to international — the under the founders’ leadership prevailed in more than 15 lawsuits to keep government open. I am proud to say I worked for Bob in the early 21st Century. We lost Ruth and Bob last year, but their son, Robert B. Trapp has carried on his parents’ tradition of fearless journalism.

The list of suspects of the attempted arson in Española could be a long one and the city officials and local police there could be on that list. I hope that other law enforcement officials in New Mexico recognize that fact and enlist the aid of more competent and a less tainted constabulary — perhaps even the FBI.

Still, the message should be clear to anyone who follows the news business and clear to those who want to see the Fourth Estate carry out its true mission of keeping powerful institutions accountable. Those who work hard to bring you the facts are sometimes at personal risk. It’s something readers and viewers should appreciate.

Real journalism has risks

I don’t believe anyone who signs up to be a reporter has a death wish or purposely puts himself in danger. But, all journalists know that sometimes the job entails risks, especially when the reporter and the news outlet are equally committed to exposing corruption. According to the Santa Fe NewMexican, those risks come home to roost at just such a newspaper Saturday at the weekly Rio Grande SUN in Española, N.M.

Real journalism has its risks

I don’t believe anyone who signs up to be a reporter has a death wish or purposely puts himself in danger. But, all journalists know that sometimes the job entails risks, especially when the reporter and the news outlet are equally committed to exposing corruption. According to the Santa Fe NewMexican, those risks come home to roost at just such a newspaper Saturday at the weekly Rio Grande SUN in Española, N.M.

The SUN, founded by Robert E. and Ruth Trapp in the 1950s, was just that kind of newspaper. The accolades for the SUN spanned the gamut — statewide to international — the under the founders’ leadership prevailed several lawsuits to keep government open. I am proud to say I worked for Bob in the early 21st Century. We lost Ruth and Bob last year, but their son, Robert B. Trapp has carried on his parents’ tradition of fearless journalism.

The list of suspects of the attempted arson in Española could be a long one and the city officials and local police there could be on that list. I hope that other law enforcement officials in New Mexico recognize that fact and enlist the aid of more competent and a less tainted constabulary — perhaps even the FBI.


Still, the message should be clear to anyone who follows the news business and clear to those who want to see the Fourth Estate carry out its true mission of keeping powerful institutions accountable. Those who work hard to bring you the facts are sometimes at personal risk. It’s something readers and viewers should appreciate.

Saving Facebook Posts

You can now save posts on Facebook. Here's how:



Friday, March 6, 2015

Stop the lies about downtown development

Amarillo’s 2015 election season is on us, one week after the filing deadline. And, as expected, the Amarillo Globe-News is perverting the legitimate role of the Fourth Estate with an editorial on Friday.

The editorial tried to make the case that the City Council cannot live up to its promise that the main parts of downtown redevelopment would be placed before the voters. The comments attached to the editorial on the AGN website make good points, noting that the editorial is sophistry. That is, using the use of fallacious arguments, especially with the intention of deceiving.


Others point out one other truth: That the AGN, lapdog for the city management and City Council, shills for the downtown plan. But it fails to point out that the city leadership has never wanted the people to have a say in city government.

Oh, and that promise? Here it is from the AGN’s own story about Paul Harpole on April 24, 2011, “Harpole said he thinks major projects - including large-scale downtown redevelopment - should be presented to voters.
‘You'll be part of the design," Harpole told the audience at a campaign forum last week. "... And it will go to a vote.’”

Continue lying, AGN. Continue moving in the wrong direction, City Council. Eventually right wins out. I hope it will at this election.


Stop the lies about downtown development

Amarillo’s 2015 election season is on us, one week after the filing deadline. And, as expected, the Amarillo Globe-News is perverting the legitimate role of the Fourth Estate with an editorial on Friday.

The editorial tried to make the case that the City Council cannot live up to its promise that the main parts of downtown redevelopment would be placed before the voters. The comments attached to the editorial on the AGN website make good points, noting that the editorial is sophistry. That is, using the use of fallacious arguments, especially with the intention of deceiving.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Ethical bankruptcy of hospital management

Two law suits, one in Texas and the other in New Mexico, put the spotlight on the role of hospitals in employee or patient safety.

In New Mexico, Colleen Heild, my friend who is an investigative reporter at the Albuquerque Journal, reports U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz ruled a hospital management company, in this case Quorum Health Resources, “breached its duty to prevent the risk of harm to dozens of patients of an Alamogordo hospital who were unwittingly subjected to experimental procedures to alleviate back pain.”


The other case, which may not see a ruling for quite a while, involves the Dallas-area nurse, Nina Pham, who contracted Ebola after caring for Thomas Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Duncan later died. The Dallas Morning News broke the story over this past weekend and ProPublica placed Pham’s lawsuit in a broader context — the violation of patient privacy.

The behavior of the hospitals’ management in these stories triggered memories of my experience during the 1960s while attending the Hospital and Health Administration Program at the University of Iowa. And these cases brought to mind why hospital management can be so bereft of ethics. As part of the Iowa’s program back then, the department head, the late Gerhard Hartman, consulted with hospitals throughout the nation. Those engagements were the basis for the second-year masters students’ “community study,” the report and recommendations Hartman made to his clients.

Under the supervision of doctoral students, masters candidates would do all the research and writing of those reports. Sometimes the project involved traveling to the community, which the team members financed themselves. The community study team also paid for the report to be typed and then the university department copier would print the report for presentation.


I know that Hartman never reimbursed the graduate students for the expenses involved in the study. I doubt he reimbursed the university for using its resources as well. In the 1970s, there were rumors that Harman had double-dipped, billing the clients and university for the same services. No one, of course, stood up to him at the time. The price would have been too high. But it set the tone for the ethics in the department and I have often wondered over the years whether it set the tone for generations of hospital administrators who came through the Iowa program.

Ethical bankruptcy of hospital management

Two law suits, one in Texas and the other in New Mexico, put the spotlight on the role of hospitals in employee or patient safety.

In New Mexico, Colleen Heild, my friend who is an investigative reporter at the Albuquerque Journal, reports U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert H. Jacobvitz ruled a hospital management company, in this case Quorum Health Resources, “breached its duty to prevent the risk of harm to dozens of patients of an Alamogordo hospital who were unwittingly subjected to experimental procedures to alleviate back pain.”

Sunday, March 1, 2015

We have a City Council race

As I posted right at the end of the filing deadline Friday evening, every incumbent has at least one opponent and some incumbents have drawn several opponents. Place 1 Councilor Ellen Robertson Green and Place 2 Councilor Brian Eades have drawn one challenger each. Place 3 Councilor Lilia Escajeda has drawn four opponents. Place 4, open because of the death of Jim Simms, has also drawn four opponents. Even the mayor, who won the last election with 77 percent of the vote, has drawn an opponent.

The past two council races were a bit of a clown carnival, with some candidates clearly not qualified. On the surface, this year’s crop of challengers look more credible, although we have much to learn about those aspirants. It is too soon to address the individual attributes of each candidate, although we know what the incumbents have done and the City Council’s abject failure in the downtown development debacle and Wallace Bajjali scandal, in my mind, disqualify each of them. Not one of the incumbents have taken responsibility for what has happened. Whether there is any redemption by any of them or city staff remains to be seen.

The extent to which they align with these issues and actions that should determine whether they deserve to take over governance of Amarillo:


· Wallace Bajjali Development Partners — As a result of master developer Wallace Bajjali Development Partners self-destructing and disappearing into the vapor, the city of Amarillo should consider seeking damages from Wallace Bajjali and a return of any monies already paid to them.

·Downtown Development — The City Council should immediately take several steps:

Ø  Immediately freeze development of the ballpark, convention center hotel and parking garage;
Ø  Reboot the entire planning process with specific attention to bringing the Herring Hotel back into play;
Ø  Instruct the city staff to develop Requests for Proposals to redevelop and/or renovate the Civic Center with an emphasis on attracting and accommodating larger and “better” national shows and conventions. The criteria in the RFP would place greater weight on local businesses being involved with the studies, designs and construction of the Civic Center.

·Downtown Amarillo Inc. — As soon as possible defund and dismantle Downtown Amarillo, Inc. The only funding for DAI that would remain are the amounts needed to dismantle the corporation. Any contracts in place with consultants would be terminated or bought out. The new City Council should seize all DAI records, including cell phone records and texts for possible turning over to investigating authorities.

·Amarillo Local Government Corp.  — As soon as possible defund and dismantle the Amarillo Local Government Corp. The only funding for the LGC that should remain in the budget is the amounts needed to dismantle the corporation. Any contracts in place with consultants would be terminated or bought out. The new City Council will seize all LGC records, including cell phone records and texts for possible turning over to investigating authorities.

·Undertake a legal and forensic review of the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone to determine if it should remain a viable entity or if it can and should be dissolved.

·Conduct a forensic/management audit of the Amarillo Economic Development Corp.

·Conduct a management audit and review of the city staff.

·Promise to freeze taxes until the management audit and review is complete.

We have a City Council race

As I posted right at the end of the filing deadline Friday evening, every incumbent has at least one opponent and some incumbents have drawn several opponents. Place 1 Councilor Ellen Robertson Green and Place 2 Councilor Brian Eades have drawn one challenger each. Place 3 Councilor Lilia Escajeda has drawn four opponents. Place 4, open because of the death of Jim Simms, has also drawn four opponents. Even the mayor, who won the last election with 77 percent of the vote, has drawn an opponent.

The past two council races were a bit of a clown carnival, with some candidates clearly not qualified. On the surface, this year’s crop of challengers look more credible, although we have much to learn about those aspirants. It is too soon to address the individual attributes of each candidate, although we know what the incumbents have done and the City Council’s abject failure in the downtown development debacle and Wallace Bajjali scandal, in my mind, disqualify each of them. Not one of the incumbents have taken responsibility for what has happened. Whether there is any redemption by any of them or city staff remains to be seen.

The extent to which they align with these issues and actions that should determine whether they deserve to take over governance of Amarillo: