Category Archives: business news

What do you know? Dems and Repubs can work together!

The atmosphere in Washington, D.C. has gotten beyond toxic, with the impeachment of the president on the horizon. Democrats and Republicans can’t say anything nice to or about each other these days.

But wait! Amid all that impeachment rancor, exacerbated I should say by Donald Trump’s incessant and relentless Twitter barrage, we see the parties working together to craft a new North American trade agreement.

It’s called the USMCA, which is shorthand for a trade agreement among the United States, Mexico and Canada. It replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement that was hammered out by the Clinton administration.

Donald Trump vowed to scrap NAFTA and replace it with something else. He vowed to craft the best deal in human history. The president hasn’t quite delivered the goods all by himself. It turns out he needed some legislative help not just from his Republican allies, but also from his Democratic foes, er, enemies.

I haven’t yet studied the USMCA, but I understand it’s supposed to benefit Texas business interests, given our lengthy border with Mexico. It also contains some environmental protections that progressives wanted in a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada.

However, the good news amid all the toxicity that infects everything in D.C. these days is that both political parties can lay claim to a victory … that isn’t at the other party’s expense.

That’s not a bad outcome.

Another ’boutique hotel’ sprouting in downtown Amarillo? Wow!

Now it’s the Rule Building, another long-vacant office structure, that’s getting new life as what they call a “boutique hotel.”

Who in the world knew?

According to www.newschannel10.com: “It was a natural progression for us to look at another opportunity. Especially with the growth and revitalization of Downtown Amarillo, we’re really hitting full stride right now, and it was an easy decision for us,” said Todd Harmon, vice president of development for DJ Investment Realty.

OK, before we pop the champagne corks and start a whole round of back-slapping, I want to offer a word of caution.

Even though I do not know Todd Harmon, I am aware of some hiccups that have occurred on projects he has sought to bring to fruition in downtown Amarillo. The Barfield Building is the most prominent of them. Harmon sought investors for the Barfield, but couldn’t make it happen. The building eventually was sold to another party and — voila! — it, too, is being turned into a boutique hotel slated to open in the spring.

I wish Harmon well. I hope he can turn the Rule Building into something beautiful. I want nothing but the very best for the downtown district in Amarillo, where my wife and I lived for more than 20 years before we relocated to the D/FW Metroplex.

As KFDA reports: As of right now, the structure plan consists of eight floors, 110 rooms, a 10,000 square foot banquet space, and a couple of restaurant and dining areas.

Don’t misunderstand me. I hope Harmon pulls this together. I want the project to succeed. I am hopeful that Amarillo’s future is still hurtling toward renewed prosperity. The city’s downtown district has made huge strides in the past half-dozen years.

I am going to offer cautious optimism that the Rule Building is part of that shiny new future.

266,000, 3.5 percent: Numbers are great, Mr. POTUS, however …

You bet that those numbers released this morning from the U.S. Labor Department are pretty darn stellar.

We added 266,000 jobs to our private payrolls in November; unemployment ticked down to 3.5 percent, retaining a full-employment ratio in the work force.

Those are impressive figures, as Donald Trump will tell us. “It’s the economy, stupid,” he tweeted this morning, using a phrase made famous by Bill Clinton campaign guru James Carville in 1992.

Let’s wait, though, for yet another suggestion from the president that will declare, “You cannot impeach me. Look at the job I’m doing to boost the economy! The economy is going too well for you to impeach me!” 

Mr. President, the pending impeachment by the House of Representatives has nothing — zero, zilch — to do with the economy. Indeed, presidents don’t get impeached based on how they are handling the nation’s economic health, unless they commit some sort of “high crime and misdemeanor.” Near as I can tell, Donald Trump’s trouble has nothing to do with the economy.

It has everything to do with other matters relating to how he has abused the power of his office to solicit a foreign government to help him win re-election. The articles of impeachment that will come from the House will speak to that abuse of power, perhaps to obstruction of justice or to obstruction of Congress.

The economy? It won’t be mentioned anywhere in those articles.

So, Mr. President, you may stop referencing the economy in the context of impeachment. It’s a non-starter.

I am not going to take it any longer!

We’ve all had this experience.

You walk into a dining establishment. You place your order. The individual who takes it from you is scowling. He or she would rather be doing anything else other than doing business with you. You pay for your meal. The individual who takes your money then declines to say “thank you,” let alone “thank you for your business.”

You pick up your order and leave. You get into your car to drive away and then you get angry over the so-called “service” you just received.

I didn’t have far to drive home. However, by the time I pulled into my driveway just about a mile or so from the dining establishment that had just taken my money I was, to say the least, really steamed.

This happened to me the other day in Princeton. I went to a fast-food joint to pick up a quickie meal for my wife and me. The young woman at the counter needed a crash course in customer relations.

I looked at my receipt when I got home and saw a website address I could look up to file a “customer satisfaction survey.” Suffice to say that this “customer” was far from “satisfied.”

I got to the question about the friendliness of the staff. I scored them “extremely dissatisfied.” Then I got to the part of the survey where I could explain my dissatisfaction. I let ’em have it. With both barrels!

I felt like sharing this with you just as a cautionary tale and a word to the wise. These businesses that employ individuals who don’t have the common courtesy to smile — even if it’s a fake smile — and welcome you do not deserve our business.

Maybe the individual got into a fight with a loved one; maybe she had a headache; perhaps she scored poorly on an exam at school. None of it matters, man! In other words, I don’t give a rip what your problems are. You are on the clock for one purpose only, which is to ensure that your customers’ experience is a pleasant one.

I told the business establishment that I do not expect to be greeted with “Ruffles and Flourishes” when I walk in. I do expect to be treated like the valuable customer I am.

This is my way of saying that I ain’t gonna take it any longer.

Nothing to hide? Turn the tax returns over, Mr. POTUS

Donald J. Trump tells us he has “nothing to hide.” He brags about his wealth. He tells us he has the “best mind” that has resulted in unparalleled business acumen.

He once promised to release his tax returns. He said they were under a “routine audit” which prevented him from releasing them for public review. Now he is digging in. He is fighting the release of those returns. Oh, but wait! He has “nothing to hide.”

A federal appeals court has ruled that Trump must release his returns to the Manhattan (N.Y.) district attorney’s office, which is examining Trump’s hush money payment to porn queen Stormy Daniels, who alleges she got 130 grand from Trump to keep quiet about a fling she says she had with the future president … who said the event never occurred. Go figure, you know.

The president is going to fight it. He’s going to take it to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is populated by a slim conservative majority among its nine members. Will they side with him? Will they even hear the case?

I just keep wondering why someone with “nothing to hide” is working so damn hard to keep these returns away from public view.

I know I am just one American. However, I don’t think I’m alone in believing that Donald Trump should reveal those returns in the interest of full transparency. I mean, didn’t he promise that, too, when he got elected president of the United States?

If you’ve got “nothing to hide,” then turn the returns over to the DA who is well within his legal authority to demand them.

POTUS, a lifelong New Yorker moves to Florida

What do you know about this? Donald Trump, a native of New York City, the guy who built his business there, who has called Trump Tower in Manhattan his official residence since 1983, now has changed his residence to Florida.

What gives? I wonder if it has something to do with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s subpoena demanding eight years worth of Trump’s tax returns relating to the DA’s investigation into that $130,000 hush money payment to Stormy Daniels, the porn queen with whom Trump (allegedly) had a one-night fling in 2006.

Do ya think? Well … I do.

I’m not sure if Trump’s declaring Florida as his official residence makes it more difficult to obtain those returns. Still, it sure looks to me as if the president is trying to keep something out of someone’s hands.

Parking garage gets a tenant … more to come, hmm?

That parking garage across the street from Hodgetown has a tenant. It’s a trendy restaurant called Joe Taco, which operates an eatery on the far west side of the city, near the medical center complex.

I understand the Local Government Corporation worked out an agreement that allows Joe Taco to operate in the parking garage rent free for the first year. Then it will pay rent on a graduated scale after that.

Good deal, yes? We shall see.

What I am not clear about just yet is whether any other tenants have signed on at the garage, which was built with considerable fanfare, hoopla and promises of more businesses to fill the ground floor spaces in the structure.

Hey, I remain optimistic that the garage will pay the freight, that it will lure other retail outlets to help defray the cost of operating the building.

Hodgetown is a beauty of a venue for the Amarillo Sod Poodles, which played championship-winning hardball at the ballpark in their first season in existence. Not a bad start.

I regret being unable to attend any games this year. I have moved away. We don’t get back to Amarillo as frequently these days. We’re settled in nicely in our new digs in Collin County. However, I remain a keen observer of Amarillo’s evolution and at this point I like what I see occurring there.

The parking garage adds an attractive edifice to the city’s downtown urban-scape. The gurus who conceived it have pledged that it will fill with businesses. I want their pledge to come true.

Downtown revival will drive the city’s future

I feel quite comfortable making this prediction on the city I used to call home: Amarillo’s future will rely on the progress that has been made — and will continue being made — with its downtown district.

I have moved away but I am enjoying the sight of the city repurposing much of its downtown district into something that has yet to be defined fully.

The Amarillo Sod Poodles have completed a successful season playing AA baseball in a shiny new ballpark on Buchanan Street. Polk Street is undergoing a major makeover. The Potter County Courthouse Square has been remade and the county is looking seriously these days at building new District Courts Building to replace the structure that former County Judge Arthur Ware has called “The Grain Elevator.”

Now the city is getting into the game in a serious way. It is pondering whether to renovate the Civic Center, re-do the Santa Fe Depot and relocate City Hall into an existing downtown structure. Psst … I hear the Globe-News Building at Ninth and Harrison is available.

I long have subscribed to the notion that successful cities all have one thing in common: They boast vibrant downtown districts.

Yes, the city’s effort at remaking downtown has its critics. Imagine my (non)surprise. I just want to offer this admonition: The entire city will reap the reward once the work gets done downtown.

Amarillo’s governing council for too long look askance at investing public funds into its downtown. It believed that the private sector should carry the load virtually exclusively. Beginning with the mayorship of Debra McCartt, continuing through that of Paul Harpole and now with Ginger Nelson pounding the gavel, the city has taken a more proactive approach to downtown redevelopment.

That is to everyone’s credit. It will be everyone’s benefit as well.

I cannot predict when this will happen. I just believe as sure as I am writing these words that it will.

Beef producers have a beef with A&W

PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, Manitoba — We have departed my favorite-sounding Canadian province, but I want to take a quick look back at a story that CTV was covering like a blanket.

It involves beef producers and their, um, beef with A&W Burgers and a Canadian Football League team, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, based in Regina, the provincial capital of Saskatchewan.

A&W is a corporate sponsor for the ‘Riders. The chain also produces some sort of veggie burger. The Roughriders’ affiliation with A&W and the veggie burger seems to irk the beef producers in Saskatchewan, where ranchers grow a lot of cattle, which are processed into a lot of burgers and assorted cuts of beef.

The Saskatchewan Beef Growers is raising a bit of hell over the veggie burgers, contending that its complaint isn’t with “vegan” dietary lifestyle. The beef growers insist their complaint centers on whether the veggie burgers are made with locally grown vegetables.

To which I say … uh huh.

I think the Saskatchewan Beef Growers could be a bit more, um, candid in expressing its discontent with the Roughriders and with A&W. A part of me wants to believe the spokesfolks at the Saskatchewan Beef Growers. The rest of me thinks they’re really miffed at the football team and the burger chain because they aren’t peddling actual beef burgers.

But … that’s just me.

Oh, Mr. POTUS, you’re breaking another promise

Oh, c’mon Mr. President. You once said you would release your tax returns. You promised us while campaigning for the presidency.

Then you back away from that promise. Oh, and then you said again you would do so.

What’s the deal, then, with this lawsuit you’ve filed against Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who has subpoenaed your tax returns to help him solve a criminal investigation he’s been seeking to clear up?

Vance wants those returns to ascertain whether you committed a campaign law violation in paying off the stripper with whom (she says) you had a fling in a hotel room back in 2006. I get that you deny it happened, yet you paid her that $130,000 sum to keep her quiet.

I am just one American who wants to know why you paid her the money. I also want to know whether you broke any laws in paying it.

The DA wants to know, too. He’s within his rights to subpoena those returns.

So, knock off with the lawsuit, Mr. President.

Inquiring minds want to know the truth about your finances. They deserve to know it as well.