Category Archives: business news

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.

Tax returns: Are they going to be released … finally?

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has invoked the legal power of his office to seek to obtain something that has been on the minds of millions of Americans since the moment Donald Trump announced his campaign for the presidency of the United States.

Vance has subpoenaed Trump’s tax returns. Yep, he’s on the hunt for information relating to that hush money payment Trump made to a porn star to keep her quiet about a fling that Trump says never happened.

Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, is back in the news. 

Clifford said she and Trump had a one-night tumble in 2006 in a hotel room. Trump said it didn’t happen, but he paid her 130 grand to keep quiet about it anyway. Go figure.

Vance wants to see Trump’s tax returns over the past eight years to find out the details of how the payment was made and whether the president violated campaign finance laws to make it.

Well now. How do you think this will turn out?

I happen to one American who believes I have a right to know about the president’s finances. I want to know whether he’s as rich as he says he is. I want to know whether he has profited from his high office. I want to know how much he has given to charity. I want to know the kinds of things Americans have known about past presidents and presidential candidates dating back more than four decades.

You see, Trump once promised he would reveal his taxes. Then he changed his mind. Then he said he would do so again. Then he backtracked again. He contends the Internal Revenue Service is auditing his taxes; the audit bans him from releasing the returns, he said. The IRS said, um, no … the audit does no such thing.

Donald Trump has lied and dissembled over the tax returns.

Vance reportedly informed the president’s accounting firm(s) of his desire to see the returns. Trump no doubt will fight it like hell, which I guess is his right.

The liar in chief, though, promised full transparency regarding his tax returns. He has failed to deliver on that promise, just as he has failed to “make America great again.”

Count me as an American who wants DA Cyrus Vance to get his hands on the tax returns. While he’s at it, he can let the country know what they contain.

Boone Pickens, maximum polarizing figure, passes from the scene

If the Texas Panhandle ever produced a more polarizing figure than oil and natural gas tycoon T. Boone Pickens, I would be hard-pressed to identify that individual.

Pickens died today at age 91. He had suffered a series of strokes in 2017. His body finally gave out.

Where does one begin to examine the amazing, confounding, controversial life of this extraordinary human being? Be advised that I use the term “extraordinary” to encompass the bad along with the good. Boone Pickens was far from an ordinary business mogul.

He was born in Oklahoma, but gravitated to the Panhandle at an early age. He earned his fortune in Amarillo. Pickens became a towering figure in the region.

Boone Pickens loomed large

To be totally candid, Pickens didn’t always wear his noted standing with grace and dignity. The man could be vicious. He held grudges.

Yes, he had many friends who were loyal to him at all times, even as he declared proverbial war on his adversaries.

I arrived in Amarillo in early 1995 to take up my post as editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News. I was acutely aware of the feud that Pickens launched against the newspaper. In the late 1980s he launched a boycott of the paper, objecting to the way it covered his business dealings and ostensibly at the way it covered the community.

He formed a group called People Committed to a Better Amarillo Newspaper, or PCBAN. He sought to persuade readers to stop subscribing to the paper; he bullied advertisers to stop buying space in the paper.

Pickens took personal umbrage at the then-publisher of the Globe-News, Jerry Huff, who eventually would be “reassigned” to another property owned by Morris Communications. As Huff exited Amarillo, Pickens displayed his crassness in full view by hanging a “Good bye, Jerry” banner from his office building a few blocks from the Globe-News.

That’s the bad Boone. I had three meetings with him during my time in Amarillo. I never met the man I have just described. Instead, I had the pleasure of meeting the good Boone, who was as charming, funny, erudite as anyone I’ve ever met.

It took a good while to persuade Pickens to come to Amarillo. He continued to harbor hard feelings toward the newspaper. He had departed Amarillo for Dallas years earlier. He kept his sprawling Mesa Vista Ranch in Roberts County and would return there regularly.

Our first meeting went far better than I could have hoped. The second meeting took place at the Civic Center a couple of years later. The third meeting occurred at his opulent ranch while I was on assignment for KFDA NewsChannel 10.

I enjoyed getting to know this individual, who was fond of dropping the names of the rich and powerful.

The last time I saw him, he told me he didn’t get back to Amarillo much, other than to attend funerals of high school classmates and assorted friends. Those visits now are over.

Was he always likable and charming? Oh, no. Someone who earned as many billions of dollars as Boone Pickens did was bound to pummel many adversaries along the way.

However, my limited exposure to this astonishing force of nature remains one of the highlights of my career.

Media trying to torpedo economy? Of course!

Donald Trump’s ridiculous thrashing and trashing of the media provides so much grist and so much fodder for comics.

Now comes this from the president: The media are trying to torpedo the economy because it is too strong, too vibrant and provides too much fuel to power the president’s re-election bid in 2020.

This man is out of his mind. He’s nuts. He went around the bend long ago, but still … his goofiness reveals a serious delusional tendency.

Trump wrote this on Twitter: “The Fake News Media is doing everything they can to crash the economy because they think that will be bad for me and my re-election. The problem is that the economy is way too strong and we will be winning big on Trade, and everyone knows that, including China!” 

The president should know better. But he doesn’t.

POTUS shifts blame

The economy is likely to suffer because of the tariffs he keeps imposing on U.S. importers who purchase goods from China. The tariffs create a de facto tax on those products, inflating their cost, making them less affordable to U.S. consumers.

What role do the media play? Oh, let’s see. They’re reporting on it. That is what the media do! They report on policies enacted by the government, be it from the president, or from Congress. The president is seeking to attach steep tariffs on China, ostensibly to publish that government for what Trump says it has done to steal U.S. intellectual property and other transgressions.

Except that China doesn’t suffer the burden on the tariffs. U.S. consumers take it in their, um, wherever.

So, with Trump seeking to shift blame to the media reveals yet again this man’s unwillingness to accept responsibility for anything.

He is projecting his own inadequacies on the media organizations that report on them.

Boycotts prove to be a counterproductive statement

I’ll get this off my chest right off the top.

I hate boycotts of businesses because their ownership happens to adhere to a certain political point of view or supports a certain political officeholder.

Home Depot is the latest mega-business to feel the sting of boycott. Its owner and founder, Bernie Marcus, happens to support Donald J. Trump’s re-election in 2020; he is pledging lots of money to assist in that effort.

Social media have exploded over this development. Social media users are seeking to boycott the company because Home Depot just cannot possibly be allowed to support and endorse Trump.

Good grief, man!

Why do I hate boycotts? They inflict too much collateral damage on individuals and families who get caught in the crossfire.

Now, do I endorse Home Depot’s corporate view in support of Trump? Of course not! But that’s not the point here. My intense refusal to take part in such an activity is because I would be taking money away from the store employees who might share the view of their corporate ownership.

Why punish the store clerk, or the warehouse personnel, or the drivers, or service technicians, or the installers? For all any of us knows, they might be on our side in this dispute, but draw a paycheck from someone on the other side.

I would be inclined to join a boycott only if the store clerk demanded I give money to a political campaign or preached to me about the virtues of a candidate or an officeholder with whom I have strong disagreements.

Anything short of that? It’s a meaningless gesture.

Shut up, Lou Dobbs!

Lou Dobbs doesn’t know what he’s talking about when he calls American general-grade officers “snowflakes.”

The Fox News business correspondent/talking head stepped in it with a comment about the generals’ opposition to the militarization of the Fourth of July celebration set for tonight in the nation’s capital.

“No wonder” they haven’t won a war since 1991, Dobbs wrote on Twitter, which lit up in return over Dobbs’ ridiculous bloviation.

Dobbs takes heat

Just for giggles, I sought to look up Dobbs’ background and came up empty in the hunt for any military experience. I am not suggesting that military critics who didn’t serve are not qualified to offer criticism of the brass. I am suggesting, though, that service in the military might have tempered Dobbs’ statements about the brass’ opposition to what Donald Trump is seeking to do with the nation’s tradition of honoring its independence.

And what, therefore, does the commander in chief think of the criticism from the ranks?

For his part, the president has been tweeting all day, apparently, about the thrill of seeing the finest military hardware on Earth while the nation commemorates its independence from colonial rule in the late 18th century.

What I should tell readers here, given Dobbs’ apparent lack of understanding of these matters, is that the military high command dislikes being used for political purposes. The men and women who serve do so to protect the nation, not to be used as props.

The generals’ opposition is not a matter of “snowflake” sensibilities. It’s a matter of understanding the mission of the world’s mightiest military establishment.

Get a grip, Lou Dobbs. Stick to business reporting and steer far away from — dare I say it? — “fake news.”

Irony continues to provide a bit of sting

There might be a reader or two of this blog who will presume this brief post is an assault on a young woman who once lived in Amarillo, Texas.

It isn’t. Please accept the notion that I intend only to reiterate an astonishing irony.

Meghan Riddlespurger once was the front woman for what she called the “Amarillo Millennial Movement.” She fought for the voter approval of a proposed downtown Amarillo sports/entertainment venue. Her primary motivation, she said at the time, was to entice “millennials” to remain in Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle after they finished their education. She wanted them to stay at home and to enjoy the fruits of the entertainment offerings that the venue would provide.

She posted this message overnight on Facebook: When you build it, they’ll come. Please support your walkable downtown development efforts and give your heart to municipal efforts because this is where a difference can be made. Just a few years ago, people said none of this could happen. And then it did. Believe in the most and fight for the best. Your city loves you! Goodnight!

It’s a lovely message. I presume Meghan returned to Amarillo to take in a baseball game at Hodgetown, which is the direct result of her efforts to help rejuvenate her hometown’s downtown district.

But she left the city not long after the November 2015 non-binding referendum victory she had sought. She now lives in Fort Worth, where I presume she is doing well. What about the “walking the walk”?

I harbor no personal animus toward this young woman. I like Meghan Riddlespurger, even though we don’t know each other well. I left the city, too, but I’m an old man who merely comments on local matters through this blog. I wasn’t invested at the level Riddlespurger was invested.

I just find the irony to be so very remarkable.

I do have to say this, though, about the young woman’s effort: It is paying off with the Sod Poodles playing before nice crowds at the ballpark and the city reaping the reward of the effort Meghan and many others put into its downtown redevelopment.