Change came to Amarillo City Hall this past spring with the election of three new City Council members.
Some of the change wasn’t so great, such as the call from two new members immediately upon taking office for City Manager Jarrett Atkinson’s resignation and the firing of the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation board.
Atkinson, realizing that he couldn’t work constructively with the new council, eventually did quit; the AEDC board is still there. Atkinson’s departure was a definite downer for the city, but the council has hired a capable man, Terry Childers, to serve as interim city manager.
One or two of the new guys got into public spats with Mayor Paul Harpole. That wasn’t good, either.
The council, though, has implemented a new procedure that I find quite appealing. It moved its regular Tuesday meetings to 5:30 p.m., rather than at 3 p.m.
The idea was to enable more residents to attend council meetings after work hours. The 3 p.m. meeting time was inconvenient for a lot of residents. They expressed their displeasure many times over the years.
The council did begin meeting occasionally later in the evening; it took its meetings into neighborhoods, giving council members a chance to hear residents’ concerns while sitting in their constituents’ own back yard.
I like the notion of meeting at 5:30 p.m. I also like the idea that more residents will be able to attend these sessions, to see and hear their elected representatives and to engage them personally during the “public comment” portion of the council meetings.
Perhaps with more people getting engaged in these proceedings we can stop hearing the constant carping — from the vocal minority of gadflies — about the bogus “secrecy” that allegedly shrouds so many of the council’s actions.
Now … let’s get busy.