Set your goals high

There’s little doubt that Alberto Gonzales’ record as U.S. attorney general is, shall we say, mixed.

He left office near the end of President Bush’s second term a fairly scorned public official. He got into serious political difficulty over several matters. But one cannot help but be impressed with the man’s personal story.

He is the son of migrant farmworkers who toiled for a time in the Texas Panhandle. His father, Pablo, didn’t get past the second grade. Yes, the second grade.

And yet, young Alberto graduated from Rice University in Houston, got his law degree from Harvard, entered private practice, went to work as counsel to Gov. George W. Bush, was appointed — and later elected — to the Texas Supreme Court, was called to Washington to serve as White House counsel for President Bush and then became U.S. attorney general.

Not bad, eh?

His message, which he delivered to minority students this week in Amarillo on behalf of Texas Tech University, where he now serves on the faculty: Always strive to achieve your goals.
A kid with such a humble pedigree, Alberto Gonzales, is proof of what one can achieve.

The best in a solid field, correct?

Canyon city commissioners have elevated Dale Davis to the post of police chief. It’s a good choice, given Davis’ long history with the city, even pre-dating his nearly three decades as a Canyon police officer.

He was one of five finalists for the job; the city received 31 applications for the chief’s job in total. City officials said Davis — a Canyon native — is the most qualified finalist by far for the job.

I am not impugning the veracity of that view. But don’t Canyon residents deserve to know the names and backgrounds of the rest of the finalists? I would think so.

But so far, all we know for certain is that city commissioners and City Manager Randy Criswell believe strongly in their choice for police chief.

How about sharing the facts that back up your belief in that choice with your constituents?

Off the record? Get real!

Former President George W. Bush returned to West Texas this past week to give a speech at a fundraiser for Lubbock Christian University.

Bush’s advance team put out the word: The appearance would be “off the record,” an announcement that rankled my colleagues at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal — and with good reason.

As I understand it, Bush’s team offered up some malarkey about the 43rd president of the United States being a “private citizen,” and that reporters would not be allowed to, um, report on the speech.

Private citizen? Let me ponder that for a moment. OK, no he’s not.

The immediate former president/commander in chief is no such thing. As A-J Editor Terry Greenberg noted, he cannot be off the record when speaking to a crowd of 1,500 listeners. The term usually refers to interviews with media outlets, not public appearances, Greenberg said.

Besides, when is a former president ever fully a private citizen, especially when he gets protection from the U.S. Secret Service? Last time I checked, the public was paying for that security detail.

Setback? I think not

Conservative talk show hosts will have a field day with this one.

President and Mrs. Obama flew to Denmark to make the pitch for their city, Chicago, to host the 2016 Olympics. Not only did the City With Broad Shoulders not get the bid today, it didn’t even make it out of the first round.

It’s a crushing personal defeat for the president, the gabbers will say. This means he’s done politically, they’ll crow. Take that, Mr. President, they’ll blather.

Let’s get a grip. This “competition” wasn’t among the heads of state and/or government who made their pitches to the International Olympic Committee. It was about the cities. Chicago’s bid fell short. The world might find out in due course where Chicago came up lacking in the eyes of the Olympic selection committee.

The Olympic bid was a momentary diversion from the real issues of the day. Rio will do a great job when the Olympians gather in 2016.

Now, let’s get back to work — and pay no attention to the blowhards who will try to make an issue out of the president’s Olympic whiff.

Tower gets gussied up

I don’t frequent the Chase Tower all that often, so it was a shock to my system this morning when I walked into the lobby from Tyler Street to attend a pre-dawn meeting on the 30th floor.

The place has been dolled up — considerably.

I remember a time when the tower — in one of its previous incarnations — was in a relatively disheveled state. The first-floor lobby looked dingy. Business were vacating the tower for other locations. The building infastructure was in terrible shape.

No longer is that the case.

The building is virtually full. West Texas A&M occupies two floors in its Amarillo Center campus. And that lobby? Well, it’s no longer a dump.

It’s bright. The elevators have been refinished. The walls are decorated tastefully. The place is home to a shop that serves gourmet coffee (which suits this caffeine addict quite nicely).

I recall hearing when I moved here in January 1995 that the tower is the tallest building between Fort Worth and Denver. I trust that’s still the case, unless someone’s built a taller one in Colorado Springs. It’s an arguable point, I suppose, to suggest that the Chase Tower is downtown Amarillo’s “signature” structure; I am kind of partial to the Santa Fe Building — but I won’t argue the point here.

It’s worth noting, though, that as downtown’s revitalization continues on, that downtown’s tallest structure — a point that clearly is not to be disputed — has seen a renaissance of its own.