Eclectic commentary from a progressive voice in the red state

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Wallace Bajjali-DAI ballpark plan goes to November vote

The people of Amarillo will now have their chance to directly express their opinion on whether the
downtown development should include the Wallace Bajjali-Downtown Amarillo Inc.-inspired ballpark. The non-binding referendum is scheduled for November will give the people of Amarillo what they’ve been asking of City Hall and the City Council for years — to be heard.

ABC 7 News/KVII made the meeting available over the Internet with a live stream, with far better quality than the city feed to Suddenlink.

The measure passed on a 3-2, with newly elected Councilors Mark Nair, Elisha Demerson and Randy Burkett prevailing after also defeating Councilor Brian Eades’ attempt to move the election to May 2016. The three new members lived up to their campaign promises to be more responsive to the voters while Eades and Mayor Paul Harpole continued to fight for the status quo. 

However, an Eleventh Hour stunt showed just how panicked the moneyed, establishment old guard is about the people of Amarillo having a say in their city government. Bill Gilliland and Laura Street “surprised” the packed Council Chambers by saying their mover and shaker friends had worked over the weekend to get pledges of about $2 million to contribute to “something” — but exactly what wasn’t clear. And, Gilliland and Street had a proviso: The money would come after construction. Other terms of the rich and famous crowd weren’t clear. Don’t forget, it was the same two people who, some 10 to 15 years ago pushed for the Globe-News Center with a plan then to raise about $30 million. The fund-raising came up short in 2005 by $1.8 million and the City Commission at the time made up the difference. That’s the same amount of money being bandied about for a ballpark about which no one seems to know anything.

I am glad the three new members adhered to their promises. I wish they had run on a promise to vote the Wallace Bajjali-Downtown Amarillo Inc.-based plan down. But, nevertheless, it is where we are and now we’re going to have another three months of campaigning, lying, spinning and name-calling — all in the shadow, by the way, of an FBI and grand jury investigation on part of the downtown plan.

Hang on, folks. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.