Tag Archives: Ginger Nelson

Are we moving too quickly to reopen?

Social distancing is the weapon of necessity in this fight we are waging against the coronavirus pandemic.

Get a load of this bit of news out of Amarillo: Hundreds of meatpacking plant employees aren’t showing any symptoms of the COVID-19 virus — but are testing positive anyway for the viral infection.

Which makes social distancing and the wearing of masks so very imperative, according to Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson.

“We are encountering people who are asymptomatic,” said Mayor Nelson in remarks to KAMR/KCIT-TV in Amarillo. “They don’t know they’re sick, but they have the virus and they’re at the grocery store, you’re encountering them, and that’s why it’s so important to wear a mask. You could be that person.”

And yet we keep hearing from fools such as, oh, the president of the United States who tell us how vital it is to reopen the country, to get the economy jump started. Donald Trump cares less about the health of Americans than he does about the state of the economy and whether its current crisis bodes ill for his re-election chances.

Moreover, he is enlisting many of his gubernatorial allies — such as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott — in pushing forward possibly too quickly.

The Tyson Foods plant in Amarillo is a huge employer. More than 3,500 employees got tested for the virus, many of whom tested positive. I am forced to ask: Is it worth exposing those employees to serious illness or even death? I would say with emphasis: Hell no!

Mayor teaches a course in Leadership 101

Leadership reveals itself in many forms.

One way is when a leader prepares for the worst while hoping for the best outcome. Example: U.S. Army Gen. Dwight Eisenhower launched the D-Day invasion of Europe in June 1944 hoping for ultimate victory, but he was prepared to deliver a message to the world in the event of failure; he would take full responsibility for a tragic outcome.

Another way is when an elected public servant battles a potentially deadly disease, steps away from his or her public duties and then returns to announce a strategy to deal with a worldwide health crisis, such as the coronavirus pandemic. Example: Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson.

I doubt Nelson — who I don’t know well, but is someone with whom I am acquainted — would welcome a comparison with the great Ike, but I am going to offer it anyway.

Nelson is battling cancer. She has backed away from her normal mayoral duties to fight the disease. But this week she issued a mandatory shelter-in-place order for the city of 200,000 residents. She issued the order calmly, with confidence and with compassion. I didn’t watch her make the declaration in real time, but I am willing to bet my entire (and dwindling) retirement fund that she made no mention of her illness, that she didn’t lay a “woe is me” guilt trip on her constituents.

We’re all enduring some level of discomfort during this difficult time. Those who are stricken by the coronavirus deserve our love and compassion. Others of us deserve unflinching leadership from those elected to serve us.

We do not need to hear self-congratulatory blather and mindless happy talk during this dire time … and if you detect a reference to what we’re getting from the very highest levels of our nation’s government, then you win the daily prize.

Well done, Mayor Nelson. Stay strong. Your city needs you.

AQHA gets an offer for a new home

Well now, it turns out I’m a bit slow on the uptake … which isn’t too much of a surprise. My critics accuse me of such things on occasion.

The Fort Worth City Council has approved a 50-year lease that could portend a relocation of the American Quarter Horse Association Museum from Amarillo to Fort Worth.

Hmm. What do you know about that? It turns out my Fort Worth pal was right when he sent me that message, that a move might be in the works. And it further cements the reason for the petition drive launched by Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson to try to persuade AQHA to stay put, to remain where it has called home for 70 years.

I hope the petition drive succeeds and that the AQHA board feels the love that it has enjoyed in the Texas Panhandle for all that time.

However, major cities such as Fort Worth don’t approve 50-year lease agreements without some confidence that the move will bear fruit.

AQHA officials say the “ground lease” does not guarantee a move is imminent. They note that that fundraising efforts in Fort Worth have accelerated. They also express appreciation for their “Amarillo employees” who have worked to make the AQHA museum such an integral part of the community.

OK. So the die isn’t cast. At least not yet.

I wish I felt better about Amarillo’s role in the AQHA future. I am trying to remain optimistic that AQHA will stay put.

However, at the moment it is a serious struggle.

Here’s an endorsement: Re-elect Ginger Nelson

I might be climbing out on that proverbial limb. Then again, maybe I am not.

Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson has announced she is running for a second term. I wish I could vote for her. I cannot, because I no longer live in Amarillo, my city of residence for 23 years.

However, I can use my voice — as “heard” through this blog — to officially endorse her bid for re-election. So, I will.

Amarillo needs to return Mayor Nelson to the center chair on the five-member Amarillo City Council.

I am glad her “campaign announcement” on Wednesday turned out to be code for a re-election effort. The nebulous language contained in a campaign “announcement” could have meant something quite different.

Yes, the city’s momentum is taking it forward. Mayor Nelson inherited a post that has helped push the city forward. Her two predecessors, Paul Harpole and Debra McCartt, got the wagon moving. Nelson has done well in her first term as mayor to keep the wagon between the lanes and out of the ditch.

She ran in 2017 on a number of campaign promises. Chief among them, as is usually the case, is economic growth. The city’s growth has been tangible, visible and is demonstrably beneficial.

Nelson wants a safe city. Her re-election campaign announcement speech included talk about her efforts to improve public safety. Police Chief Ed Drain has reinvigorated the city’s community policing program and for that he and the mayor and the council deserve high praise.

The city is working well. It’s being rebuilt from stem to stern. Downtown is in the midst of its major makeover. So are highways running through the city (thanks to the work being done by the Texas Department of Transportation). And of course we have the street repair.

The city is on the move. The mayor is a significant player in the city’s movement. It’s going in the right direction.

Re-elect Ginger Nelson.

Run again, Mme. Mayor . . . run again!

Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson has scheduled what has been called a “campaign announcement” Wednesday morning.

Hmm. What will she do? I haven’t a clue. For that matter, I barely know Mayor Nelson. I’ve shaken her hand. I’ve had some conversation with her. This all occurred when she was running for mayor in 2017.

She won the mayor’s race that year, joining an entirely new Amarillo City Council that took office that year. She is one of three women to serve on the five-member council, giving the city it’s first ever female majority on its governing body. Nelson is the second woman ever elected mayor of Amarillo; Debra McCartt was the first.

I want her to run again, even though I cannot vote for her. All I can do from a distance now that I’ve moved away is suggest that she needs to be re-elected. She needs to keep her hand on the municipal till as it steers toward what I perceive to be a bright — if still unknown — future.

The city’s new downtown ballpark is under construction; its new AA baseball team has a goofy, but oddly charming, name; the team will play start playing hardball in April 2019. More change is occurring downtown. The city’s streets — seemingly damn near all of ’em — are under repair, rebuilding and renovation.

Progress can be painful.

Hey, it just occurs to me I might be getting ahead of myself. Maybe the mayor will announce Wednesday she’s had all the fun she can stand after just a single two-year term.

I doubt that will happen. I hope Ginger Nelson runs again.

Vet school plan ‘coming together’

The late actor George Peppard once portrayed a TV character, Hannibal Smith, on the series “The A-Team,” who was fond of saying he loved it “when a plan comes together.”

Well, ladies and gents, a Texas Tech University plan is coming together for Amarillo and the rest of the Texas Panhandle.

The Texas Tech Board of Regents has authorized Tech President Lawrence Schovanec to execute an agreement with the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation sets aside as much as $69 million to help finance construction of a school of veterinary medicine in Amarillo.

Is that cool? Or what? Of course it is!

AEDC delivered a monumental pledge to Texas Tech to help move the vet school program forward. Tech is planning to build a vet school in Amarillo that will cost an estimated $90 million. It will be located near Tech’s existing campuses near the medical center complex in west Amarillo.

This is huge deal for Amarillo. And for Tech. And for the future of large-animal veterinary medicine in the Texas Panhandle.

The project ran into some resistance from another university system, Texas A&M, where its leaders didn’t want Tech to proceed. A&M has the state’s only school of veterinary medicine and I suppose they wanted to keep its monopoly on that form of higher education.

Texas, though, is a large and diverse enough state to accommodate more than a single school of veterinary medicine. Thus, Tech’s plan is a good fit for Texas, not to mention for the Panhandle.

As the Amarillo Globe-News reported about the May 8 decision by the Amarillo City Council to proceed with the project: “This investment by the EDC ensures the vet school will happen and also challenges industry and community partners to join in the success of making this vet school happen,” Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson said at the time. “The timing of Amarillo’s investment before the legislative appropriations request will increase the momentum of private fundraising and hopefully assist the legislative funding request. Funding for the project will come from annual tax revenues, which is sales tax, recognized by the EDC. The estimated annual economic impact for the veterinary school of medicine will be $76 million annually to Amarillo.”

Yep, a huge plan is coming together. Hannibal Smith would be proud.

Texas Tech vet school? Call it a ‘done deal’

You now may say that Texas Tech University’s plans to build a school of veterinary medicine in Amarillo is a done deal.

The Amarillo City Council’s decision Tuesday to sign off on a $69 million pledge to Tech puts the city’s seal of approval on a plan that the university says will generate tens of millions of dollars annually to the Panhandle economy.

It also will educate hundreds of veterinarians who will care for animals vital to the region’s lifeblood.

Amarillo Economic Development Corporation, along with a charitable trust, stepped up to donate land and to guarantee as much as $69 million for the $90 million project.

This, I submit, is a big day for Amarillo’s future growth and prosperity.

Do you remember the push back that Tech got from a competitor, Texas A&M University, which at this moment operates the only veterinary medical school in Texas? It appears that A&M, led by Chancellor John Sharp, has relented. Sharp had expressed opposition to Tech’s desire to build a vet school.

To my reckoning, Sharp and the A&M hierarchy never made the case that Texas couldn’t possibly play host to two schools of veterinary medicine. This is a big state, full of aspiring students who want to work for their communities. Texas Tech has now given a segment of them a chance to do exactly that.

Tech had plenty of help, from AEDC and from the family of Amarillo philanthropist Mary Emeny, which donated the land where Tech will build the school.

As the Amarillo Globe-News has reported: “This investment by the EDC ensures the vet school will happen and also challenges industry and community partners to join in the success of making this vet school happen,” Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson said. “The timing of Amarillo’s investment before the legislative appropriations request will increase the momentum of private fundraising and hopefully assist the legislative funding request. Funding for the project will come from annual tax revenues, which is sales tax, recognized by the EDC. The estimated annual economic impact for the veterinary school of medicine will be $76 million annually to Amarillo.”

I am willing to bet real American money that “industry and community partners” will welcome Tech’s expanded presence in the Texas Panhandle.

Social media: sometimes a poisonous purveyor

I am likely never to fall totally in love with social media. I have accepted its presence our lives. However, there are times when I detest it with — as my mother used to say — “with a purple passion.”

Amarillo City Councilman Howard Smith has posted this item on Facebook, which I’ll share here:

It has come to my attention that a Facebook page has been created called: Howard Smith for Mayor 2019.

I want this to be crystal clear. I did not start this page, nor do I support it.

I am excited to continue my work on the Amarillo City Council. I have absolutely NO intention of running for Mayor.

I think Mayor Nelson is doing a tremendous job, and I am honored to work alongside her and my fellow Council Members to help move Amarillo forward.

Additionally, a GoFundMe account has been created to pay legal fees to oppose the building of the MPEV.

I, Howard Smith, did not contribute to this fund. I support the MPEV.

During this digital age when misinformation is so easily distributed, I encourage you to reach out to me with any questions or concerns.

I respectfully ask that anyone pretending to be me or anyone utilizing my name please stop immediately.

What, do you suppose, caused this little item to show up? My hunch is that it has something to do with that recent dust up regarding Ginger Nelson’s decision to crack down on applause during City Council meetings.

As for the MPEV construction, if Councilman Smith says he supports it, I’ll take him at his word.

Social media can be pervasive. They can spread rumors faster than a Texas Panhandle wildfire. It become incumbent on those who become subject of social media discussion to use the media to counteract it or to endorse it, whichever is the case.

Howard Smith has counteracted what he suggests are unfounded rumors.

It’s good to stay alert.

Butt out, Rep. Tinderholt

I am quite certain that damn few Amarillo residents knew the name of Tony Tinderholt until he decided to stick his nose into an Amarillo City Hall dustup over whether residents can applaud during City Council meetings.

Tinderholt is a Republican state representative from Arlington. Oh, and he’s also a golden boy associated with Empower Texans, a far-right-wing political action group that decided to become involved in a couple of Texas Panhandle GOP legislative primary races this spring.

Empower Texans had its head — and other body parts — handed to it when Panhandle Republican voters essentially re-elected state Sen. Kel Seliger and state Rep. Four Price, both of them Amarillo Republicans.

Tinderholt has decided to pressure Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson into rethinking her decision to restrict clapping at council meetings.

I won’t get into the merits of Nelson’s decision. I’m sitting out here in the peanut gallery and am out of the loop on the details of what transpired when Nelson kicked a constituent out of a council meeting. I will say only that Nelson perhaps overreacted in the moment, but has tried to explain — in the wake of some local criticism — that she has a keen understanding and appreciation of the First Amendment and its guarantees of free speech and all that kind of thing.

I am struck by the idea that a state representative from far away would want to meddle in a matter that should be settled by the folks who live here and who are elected to govern a community’s affairs.

It’s interesting, too, that Tinderholt would be affiliated with a group, Empower Texans, that sought to dictate to Panhandle residents how they should vote. The Texas Panhandle took care of its business quite nicely despite the pressure being brought to bear on this region from Empower Texans.

So, to Rep. Tinderholt and Empower Texans, I just have this modest rejoinder: Butt out!

Do not resign, Mme. Mayor

I cannot believe I read this item, but I’ll comment on it anyhow.

An Amarillo resident has presented a petition with signatures on it calling for Mayor Ginger Nelson to resign. She wants the mayor to quit. Why? Because the mayor imposed some rules of behavior during City Council meetings.

No applause allowed, according to the mayor.

So, for that this individual wants Nelson to quit.

Oh, my. Give me a break … please!

I’m just a single constituent. So, little ol’ me will just say it out loud: Do not quit, Mme. Mayor.

Nelson said she won’t resign. Fine. Stay the course. Ride this tiny tempest out.

I am believing that Nelson overreacted when she booted a gentleman out of a council meeting the other evening. The fellow was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor offense.

“I’m going to do the job that I was elected to do. And there were thousands of people who had a chance between three candidates to choose and I was elected. I feel the burden of doing that and I want to do that job the best I possibly can,” said Nelson.

There. That’s good enough for me.

She’s got a lot more work to do. It’s a lot more important than keeping order in City Council meetings.

Stay the course, Mayor Nelson.