Perception meets reality, Mr. Mayor

Amarillo Mayor Paul Harpole is a good man who I believe is motivated by the best intentions.

However, for him to dismiss concerns about whether a new town-hall policy somehow isn’t driven by politics leaves me wondering whether he truly understands how some people can perceive what looks so patently obvious.

The mayor is facing a re-election fight next month. So, on the eve of that balloting, he announces a series of town hall meeting with constituents. He wants to hear their concerns. He wants to act on them, if possible. He is all ears. He’s an open book. He’s receptive to people’s gripes. He wants to let people talk for as long as they want, without the restrictions they face during regular City Council meetings.

Roy McDowell, who’s running against the mayor, isn’t buying it fully. He thinks Harpole is doing this as some sort of political stunt.

Is that how he and some others around the city perceive it? If they do, does that become some form of reality in their mind? Yes and yes.

Which brings me back to my initial point. Is the mayor tone deaf?

Harpole says he’s got meetings scheduled through the rest of the year and that whether he continues with them will depend on how responsive residents are to his outreach.

The mayor and City Manager Jarrett Atkinson conducted the first town hall meeting this week. They answered questions about city issues ranging from downtown improvement plans to street repair. I applaud them both for making themselves available to residents.

However, as the great Boston Red Sox slugger the late Ted Williams used to say about hitting a baseball, “Timing is everything.”

So it is with politics.


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