Eclectic commentary from a progressive voice in the red state

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A petulant publisher and a damaged city

The “opinion” page of Thursday’s Amarillo Globe-News displayed a pettiness and stupidity rarely seen in the worst of our media. But, here it is, in all its glory.

Brief background: Tuesday evening, Terry Childers, Amarillo’s interim city manager, was caught on a hot mic calling a citizen a “stupid son of a bitch” after said citizen spoke during the City Council’s public comment session. Wednesday morning, Childers resigned. It was the second such public display of profanity and bad temper, so no matter how much anyone approved of the changes Childers brought to the city, it was time for him to hit the road.

And thus, we have the two-word editorial in the local newspaper of record. Former opinion page editor and local blogger, my friend John Kanelis, pretty much took the words out of my mouth by beating me to the punch opining about the unprofessional act by Les Simpson, the AGN publisher of the city’s newspaper of record. Kanelis’ post lit up Facebook brighter than Beth Duke’s and Xcel Energy’s Christmas Electric Light Parade.

After I saw this petulant little display today, I called Simpson “a petty, petulant and deplorable prig,” and I think I also called him a “prick” and a “little shit.” But those are puerile insults on my part. The most condemning label for Simpson is hypocrite.

He made a big show for himself and the Globe-News to be leaders of the downtown development effort. He wanted to portray the paper and his role as leadership and that he was doing something good for the city. Of course he and his buddies then brought us Melissa Dailey, Wallace Bajjali and millions of lost dollars and misguided plans. When the new councilors came on board in June 2015, it was clear that Simpson’s cabal was in trouble and it was Childers who delivered the death blow for Downtown Amarillo Inc. and Dailey. Poor Les. He’s been angry, vindictive and petulant ever since. He’s been using a paper that once won a Pulitzer Prize as an ugly stick to beat on his enemies.

Now, with this openly childish reaction, he shows his hypocrisy. Everything he and the Globe-News did was for self-aggrandizement. It was for business reasons, to foster ties with the people in control of advertising dollar. It was never for the good of the city. Because if Les were interested in the good of the city, he wouldn’t have waged a 52-week war on Childers and the new councilors. He would have realized that his little, petty media outlet will now, with this very act, jeopardize getting a solid candidate to be city manager.

Who, after all, in their right mind, would want to work in Amarillo now? Congratulations, Les. You have-not only shown your true colors, but you’ve done irreparable damage to the city.