Yesterday I posted an observation that Mayor Paul Harpole’s “town hall meeting” was a political ploy that used the city of Amarillo’s resources — taxpayer money — to further his re-election chances. I wasn’t the only one to raise that issue, as some of the commenters on the Amarillo Globe-News story on Tuesday noted. That Tuesday story shilled for Harpole and failed the basic test of journalism: thinking critically and asking the questions. So transparent. In the end, the Globe-News will end up endorsing the incumbents and call for staying the course on downtown development.
Today the Globe-News story raises the questions that should have come with the “announcement” story on Tuesday. And the story confirms that Harpole fooled no one — except the Globe-News the day before. Also Wednesday, my friend and former Globe-News colleague John Kanelis blogged about this as well, asking whether Harpole “truly understands how some people can perceive what looks so patently obvious.”
The fact that this ploy blew up in his face means that, in this case, the perception was the reality and (1) a political move ahead of an election; (2) a crass attempt to undercut the Democratic hosts’ forum; (3) a calculated misuse of taxpayer resources for political purposes; and, (4) a reflection of Harpole’s hubris and arrogance, thinking he could get away with this.
As of a few moments ago, three commenters on the Amarillo Globe-News site were spot on about this ploy. What is more interesting is the Amarillo Globe-News helped Harpole in his denial of the ploy — very telling about the AGN and its ethics. And, finally, that he is moving the next so-called town hall to a private venue means someone has figured out that it’s clear it was a political poly that had no place in taxpayers’ property.