Eclectic commentary from a progressive voice in the red state

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Downtown Misdirection? A KVII-Pronews7 Special Report

KVII - PRONEWS7’s Monday and Tuesday 10 p.m. newscasts looked at Amarillo’s downtown redevelopment efforts. I helped with this story as part of my consultancy with KVII. I have edited both segments together into an 8-minute video.

 Some of the main points:

·The city of Amarillo has shut out one of the most historic buildings downtown in favor of using a master developer of questionable repute (Wallace Bajjali) to co-develop a new hotel;

·Almost all of the decision-making has been in executive session — behind closed doors — with little public information;

·Paul Harpole, the mayor of Amarillo, has (to be charitable) been dishonest about the projects’ progress and untruthful about Wallace Bajjali meeting deadlines and timelines;

·Joplin, Mo., recovering from a massive tornado, is using Wallace Bajjali as a master developer and has run into problems with the firm, including — as KVII documents — Wallace Bajjali’s inability to develop anything without a co-developer. This is evident in Amarillo with the development of the downtown convention center hotel; and,

·Like the Amarillo Globe-News, the Joplin Globe was in the tank for Wallace Bajjali and, as here, it took a local television news outlet to shine the light on what was and is really occurring.

By the way, I have seen emails that show the City Council and city leaders, which include the Amarillo Local Government Corp. and Downtown Amarillo, Inc., knew as long ago as early July 2013 that Wallace Bajjali would not meet its Oct. 31, 2013 deadline on the hotel development. But not one of the people associated with those groups came forward to be honest with the taxpayers who are footing the bill for this activity.

KVII - PRONEWS7 will continue to follow this story and I hope those of you reading this will do so as well, sharing this with as many as people as you can.