Eclectic commentary from a progressive voice in the red state

Sunday, April 26, 2015

An Open Letter to Brian Eades

As I got out of the car yesterday morning after dropping my wife off at a sub job, I thought I got a whiff of the smell of cattle money. I didn’t detect a breeze, so I was mystified why the odor was so strong. Then I read your email and realized the smell was coming from that.

For someone who has repeatedly sat on the dais and said he makes public policy on the basis of facts and evidence, your pattern of behavior, support of the downtown plan and Wallace Bajjali betrays your principles. And that’s a fact.

Now, let’s address some of your comments.

· “Since that time, we have a new city manager, new mayor and all new city council members technically except for me.” — The “new” city manager was a long-time city employee and well in the loop about the downtown planning. If he wasn’t in the loop, your oversight of the city management is flawed because, as assistant manager, Jarrett should have been in the loop. A “new” mayor is equally fallacious. Paul has been part of the City Council before. He was well aware of the City Council issues and activities. And the same goes for other councilors. Jim Simms can’t be consider as new. Ron Boyd had been on the commission for years. Ellen was active on the Traffic Commission. Verdict: Spin failure due to your bad information or lack of understanding.

· “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.” — The NewCrestImage people are not new. They did the Fisk Building, despite Melissa Dailey’s attempt to undercut them. The “new” TIRZ chair was on the TIRZ board so he wasn’t “new;” and he is a prominent lawyer in town and did the legal framework for TIRZ and Downtown Amarillo Inc. The Center city president came from within its own board, so he wasn’t new either. The new LGC board was made up of veteran city people, council members and others who have long been deeply involved with city public policy in one form or the other. You helped appoint them. If they were too new to do the job right, you shouldn’t have. And the DAI executive director? A third-rate or fourth-rate transportation planner who had no broad experience in major planning issues. Verdict: Spin failure due to your bad information or lack of understanding.

· “We have a new traffic engineer and even a new animal control director etc.” — Yep, sure do. Verdict: Irrelevant for downtown planning but emblematic of the City Council’s incompetent oversight of city functions.

· “Yes George, things change. As does the weather, economic indices, financial fortunes and your investment portfolio.” — And smart managers and others charged with oversight take changes into account and adjust accordingly. Verdict: Failure to oversee the environment properly.

· “Thanks heavens for some modicum of continuity.” — Wait, wait. Continuity? Didn’t you just regale me with all that “new” stuff that you think excused you from the poor decisions in which you participated and in which other commissioners/councilors undertook? Verdict: Contradiction exposes spin failure (again).

· “Now, in regards to your statement, I can't for the life of me find a question mark anywhere in there.” — This sentence elevated you from hubris past arrogance to unmitigated gall. Are you saying I have to bow and scrape to you, oh royal one, and can only ask you questions? I don’t see it that way. You and the others continue to run on the platform you represent all the people, but it seems that the only people to whom you listen are other Amarillo royalty. No, Brian, I wasn’t asking you questions. I was pointing out that you and the other council members are refusing to acknowledge how poorly you have governed this city. And how incredibly bad the decisions are you’ve made, especially with respect of downtown.

Further, on this last bullet point, my email to you and the other councilors was about how you and others ignored good, solid information about Wallace Bajjali — information beyond The Amarillo Independent’s 2010 story — that a simple Google search would have gotten you. (Spare me the Dallas law firm. They didn’t “vet” anything.) The council, had it been following WBDP’s problems elsewhere like Waco, Corpus Christi and Joplin, had the chance to kill this deal off in Nov. 2013. You didn’t. The council didn’t.

Verdict: The Amarillo Independent and others were right all along and the City Council continues to refuse to publicly acknowledge that fact. Let me say it again, slowly: The.Amarillo.Independent.was.right.

So, you want questions. OK, here are some questions.

First question: Are you up to answering the following questions honestly?

If you’re so wedded to facts and evidence in making public policy, why did you ignore them in choosing Wallace Bajjali? Why did you and the council ignore The Amarillo Independent’s findings?

Why did Alan Taylor retire? Was there any truth to the rumor that he disagreed with the downtown plan?

The Strategic Action Plan effort had fewer than 1,000 participants. Why did the City Council consider that representative of the city?

Why was the Herring not included in the land use planning? Why has the City Council ignored the Herring Hotel as a resource for conventions? Who is behind the squeeze play on the Herring?

What happened to the “citizen vote” that was promised? With such a pathetic voter turnout in 2013, how can you justify that this was a mandate or endorsement of the ongoing plans?

If the new hotel is such a strong asset, why does it need to be protected by a non-compete clause?

How does city ownership of the hotel square with your Libertarian or Republican ideals of a free market? A market where government doesn’t pick winners and losers?

How is it that the City Council ignored studies that showed the very cookie-cutter plans that Wallace Bajjali brought to you don’t result in economic development?

How can the city contract with the Southern Independent League without a city-owned stadium to play in?

And one final question for you, as I think back over the discussions we have had through the years that I’ve been a citizen and taxpayer in Amarillo. How is it that when we’ve discussed public policy on health care, you agree with me in private and then take opposite positions in public? You’ll want examples, so I’ll give you two. Certificate of need and that health care isn’t a free market.

I await your responses.