Get set for lots of split City Council votes

ama city council

Three to two.

We’d all better get ready for a lot of those votes on critical issues that come before the Amarillo City Council.

Does a three-fifths vote in any governing body — no matter its size — constitute a consensus? Hardly. It says only that the body is divided. Does it represent the division that lies out here among us constituents? I’m not yet ready to concede that point.

Think of it in terms of the U.S. Supreme Court, which fairly routinely splits along ideological lines on key — sometimes landmark — decisions. The court likely will split 5 to 4, with the conservative majority winning the argument over the liberal minority.

Do all Americans see these 5-4 court decisions as a sign of consensus? Oh, no. Indeed, the court’s deeply split decisions are bound to trigger national debates over the rightness or the wrongness of whatever decision the court hands down.

I’m guessing a similar discussion might play out in Amarillo as the City Council takes up key issues. The city budget likely will be decided by a deeply split vote. You can rest assured that any issue relating to downtown Amarillo revival project will face a similarly split vote.

And just like the deep divisions that split the nation’s highest court, where dissenting opinions often produce as much as heat as the majority opinions, we here in Amarillo might have to expect fiery dissents from those in the minority on these key votes.

There used to be an unwritten rule at City Hall every one on the council — or commission, as it once was known — was expected to back whatever decision that came forth. Those who opposed a decision weren’t asked to support it publicly, but there was an accepted silence from those who voted on the short end of whatever decision came from City Hall.

I’m betting the mistrust that exists on both sides of this new 3 to 2 City Council divide won’t allow quiet acquiescence.

This, I submit, is part of the “change” that has arrived at City Hall.

Good luck with that, City Council.


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