Eclectic commentary from a progressive voice in the red state

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Let's play "whom do you trust?"

We all know one definition of insanity is to continue the same behavior while hoping for a different outcome. So, why would I be surprised when I read in an Amarillo Globe-News story slated for publishing Sunday that Amarillo’s City Council is following that path? Well, it may not be — at least if one relies on the Globe-News’ version.

The Globe-News stated, “In a statement following Wednesday’s sudden departure of former Interim City Manager Terry Childers, Mayor Paul Harpole announced Amarillo would once again turn to Strategic Government Resources to help fill the position of city manager.”

But that isn’t a done deal until the Nov. 22 council meeting. How do I know this? Because this is the exact language from Amarillo Mayor Paul Harpole’s statement to the media which Jesse Patton of the city’s PR office sent out: “Details about filling Childers’ position, and the steps Amarillo Council must take to move forward will be discussed at the upcoming Tuesday, Nov. 22 meeting along with reengaging the process with Strategic Government Resources (SGR) to find a permanent city manager.”

Look at those works carefully. It’s a discussion; and, while I would not be surprised if the council “re-engaged” with SGR because the council is unable to learn from past mistakes thus repeating errors hoping for a different outcome. The council has such a track record. But the Globe-News’ own report noted on Oct. 31, that the council would be cutting ties with SGR.

But if the Globe-News mischaracterizes the Harpole news release, how do we know the out-of-town-owned daily didn’t also mischaracterize something more important? The paper reports, “Weeks before the November election, Amarillo City Council members began meeting in executive session to discuss when and how best to move forward with hiring a city manager, and at their next regular meeting on Tuesday they plan to bring the conversation out from behind closed doors.”

First, if this is true, there is a serious question about the right of the City Council to go into executive session over such an interpretation of “personnel matters.” The discussion about a path forward hiring a city manager and whether to go with a search firm isn’t the same as a personal evaluation. If this paper’s characterization is true, the transparency pledge from the council is as empty as that see-through class of vodka. But, if this is a mischaracterization of the council’s behavior, then the Globe-News has visited another disservice on the people of Amarillo — just as classy as the “Goodbye Terry” editorial the other day. (Say classy, Les.)

Speaking of editorials, now the Globe-News is calling for slowing down the city manager search. Doesn’t this conflict with questioning why the council wasn’t done with this search and hire mission a long time ago? Yes, most emphatically, it does. In fact, according to the voice of the Globe-News, its Nov. 3 opinion called for the hire before next May’s municipal elections. What is happening behind the scenes for the Globe-News to change directions? Does the petulant publisher have a slate lined up to back with his little birdcage liner?

Let all this sink in, will you?