Category Archives: local news

Journey goes on

Our retirement journey has taken a new turn, with a new vehicle towing a new recreational vehicle.

You know already that we traded in our 29-foot fifth wheel for a 21-foot travel trailer. We’ve taken our new trailer out on a couple of short jaunts. We hauled it behind our big ol’ pickup, Big Jake, the 2011 3/4-ton Dodge diesel beast.

We bid so long to Big Jake today and took possession of our new — and a good bit smaller — truck. It’s a Ford Ranger. We’re toying with what to name it. I am increasingly stuck on Kemo Sabe. Whatever.

The new truck is a beaut. It’s brand new. Ford built the 2022 vehicle per our specs. Just for my wife and me. It’s big enough to haul our travel trailer.

Our journey, though, has changed, but mostly because of outside influences. The price of gas makes long-term travel too expensive for us. So, we’re re-evaluating how we intend to use our new truck and our new RV. Best guess? We’ll stay mostly close to home. Indeed, Texas is big enough for us to be able to visit state parks hither and yon.

Now, does this mean that extended travel is out forever? Hardly. We’ll wait a little while, see where fuel prices go. If they come back to Earth, well, we just might hit the long and winding road to points farther away.

Toby the Puppy, moreover, will have to get used to new travel digs. We remain confident that he will adjust just fine.

Dead Man Walking comes back to life … for now

T.C. Broadnax seemed to be a sort of Dead Man Walking at Dallas City Hall.

The mayor wanted the city manager ousted. Eric Johnson made no secret of his unhappiness with the job the city manager has been doing as the city’s chief administrator.

There was supposed to be a City Council meeting in which Broadnax would get booted out. The meeting didn’t happen. Then suddenly, without warning, Broadnax and Johnson kinda made peace.

At least for now.

Dallas mayor and manager truce isn’t the progress city needed (

I live just up the highway from Big D. I worked briefly for the Dallas Morning News at the end of 2021, so I developed a bit of understanding — but only a bit — of what was transpiring at City Hall. It looked pretty ugly from my standpoint.

Mayor Johnson seemed to make a hash out of the situation. The way I saw it play out, Broadnax had every reason to be embarrassed over the way he was treated.

Yeah, I know that running a major American city such as Dallas puts every senior administrator under the hottest of lights. The city has been through a lot of turmoil just in the three years we have lived in the city’s significant shadow.

The police chief resigned amid a violent crime wave. Crime continues to plague the city. Dallas reportedly has a permit problem that Broadnax cannot seem to repair, which also irked Johnson.

I don’t know how this is going to play out.

If I were T.C. Broadnax, I believe I would polish up my resume and get it ready to present to other potential employers. He ought to do it secretly. Why? Because Mayor Johnson seems to be unable or unwilling to avoid making a show out of sensitive personnel matters.

How does this law infringe on rights?

Ronny Jackson, the idiot who represents in Congress a region of the country I know well, put out a Twitter teaser that just makes me cringe.

The congressman who represents the Texas Panhandle wrote: Next on the Supreme Court docket, overturn the Democrat’s HORRIBLE gun control legislation! We ARE NOT done!!!

This moron’s idiotic message compels me to ask: How on God’s good Earth does the legislation signed into law by President Biden infringe on a law-abiding American’s access to owning a firearm?

I’ve already asked Jackson directly; I doubt he’ll respond.

The bill cobbled together by a bipartisan group of senators seeks to do a few things to stem gun violence of the type that killed those 19 precious children and two teachers in Uvalde a month ago. I have read the damn thing many times and I cannot for the life of me find a thing in it that prohibits a citizen in good standing from owning a firearm.

So, what the hell is Ronny Jackson suggesting? It ain’t “gun control legislation.” The new law nibbles around the edges. It isn’t perfect, but it’s a start — at least I hope it is — down the road toward curbing gun violence.

‘Patriots’? Not even close!

I long ago developed a deep, visceral hatred for those groups that pervert the word “patriot.”

Why bring that up now? It appears that a Fort Worth-based hate group has been fingered in a bust of haters who were rounded up in northern Idaho this week.

The group calls itself the “Patriot Front,” which is a white supremacist outfit with a mission to spread lies and hate-soaked messages about anyone who doesn’t believe as they do.

The FBI rounded up the suspects from several states, eight or nine of whom are front North Texas.

I hate this perversion of the word “patriot” because I consider myself a patriot. I served my country in time of war; I went to war when my country ordered me to do so. I served and came home. I pay my taxes regularly and without a hint of resentment. I play by the rules the government lays down for me to obey.

I am a square when it comes to this stuff.

What’s more, I get chills when I hear the National Anthem. I fly Old Glory in front of my home and display a red-white-and-blue banner in the living room window.

I am a patriotic sap.

Furthermore, I resent terribly anyone or any organization that proclaims their patriotism while espousing any principle that flies in the face of what the founders intended when they created this nation in the late 18th century.

I want to make one more point. We’re celebrating Flag Day today. We fly the flag not because we cherish the cloth that contains its colors. We fly it because of what it symbolizes, which is the liberty to protest the government and, yes, to burn the flag if you believe your protest is worthy of such an act.

Make no mistake, though, in believing that burning a flag in my presence will persuade me to follow your political lead. Oh, no. Not even. I just honor the liberty that we all have in this country to protest peacefully.

As for the Patriot Front … well, it’s a hate group that has earned my eternal hatred.

So long, Big Jake

RAY ROBERTS LAKE STATE PARK, Texas – We have taken Big Jake the Pickup on the final excursion we will share with the beast.

Big Jake is headed for somewhere else. My wife and I hope the big ol’ Dodge Ram finds a new home with owners who will love him as much as we do. We expect Big Jake to continue to give the new owns as much satisfaction as he delivered to us for many years.

What you see behind Big Jake is our new travel trailer, the severely downsized version of the recreational vehicle we continue to take on our retirement journey to points hither and yon.

I must acknowledge, though, that hither and yon will be a good bit closer to home than we have taken our previous RV. These fuel prices are killin’ us, as you can imagine.

What is taking Big Jake’s place? We have ordered a Ford Ranger pickup. Ford Motor Company notified us this week the truck has been built per our specs, it’s been inspected, and it is being shipped as I write this brief blog post.

We took Big Jake and our travel trailer to a state park we have visited before. Lake Ray Roberts is just a bit north of Denton, about 60 or so miles from our house in Princeton. It’s a gorgeous park, as are practically all the parks within the Texas Parks & Wildlife system.

I am just posting this blog to let you know that our travel plans are being amended slightly, at least while the fuel prices continue to zoom out of sight. I do hope they can return to something resembling sanity.

As for Big Jake, it’s getting time to say so long to the muscular truck that has taken our previous RVs to both coasts, through the western half of Canada, to the Great Lakes and to more than 30 state parks in Texas. Big Jake served us well.

As for our Ford Ranger, the new vehicle doesn’t yet have a name. I am toying with naming the truck Kemo Sabe. Think for just a moment about the symbolism of the name.

Meanwhile, our retirement journey continues.

Will this action rile ’em up?

For the nearly 18 years that I worked for the Amarillo Globe-News, I learned something about the population of the city where my wife and I lived during all that time … and then some.

It took a whole lot to rile folks up enough to take strong political action against local government.

That brings me to my point: Will the city council’s decision to pile on $260 million in debt to build a new civic center and relocate City Hall be enough to fire up the masses?

I don’t live there any longer, so I don’t have a dog in that particular fight. Thus, I’ll reserve judgment on what I believe my friends who remain there will do.

Amarillo voters cast ballots en masse during the November 2020 election in rejecting a bond issue to build a new civic center. It was roughly a 60-40% “no” vote. The council, though, decided to go after something called “anticipation notes” totaling $260 million. The debt will boost the municipal tax rate about 59% over a period of time.

If you own, say, a $250,000 home in Amarillo, the tax bite will be substantial.

I’ve already implored Mayor Ginger Nelson and City Manager Jared Miller to get ahead of this matter. Explain the thinking behind what appears to the untrained eye to be a slap in voters’ faces. I am casually acquainted with Nelson; I don’t know Miller. I cannot predict what they are thinking or pondering.

If they do not explain themselves, though, there might be enough latent frustration in the city to spur some sort of political uprising. Perhaps it will come in the form of a recall election. Or perhaps it will occur at the next citywide municipal election when a slate of candidates could run against the current council and, well, give ’em the boot.

It happened just a few years ago when some residents disliked the push to build the downtown baseball park now known as Hodgetown. That tempest turned out to be all for naught. The park rose up and they’re filling the stands most nights at Hodgetown with fans cheering for the Sod Poodles minor-league baseball team.

This dust-up won’t dissipate anytime soon.

Just remember that voters throughout the land are angry at government at all levels for reasons that at times make no sense. Raising people’s property taxes, though, over their expressed desire against it seems to be cause for some turmoil.

Once more, what about that ‘no’ vote?

My cheap-seat perspective has me wondering once again about what is transpiring in Amarillo.

My mind keeps asking: If city voters said “no!” to a bond issue to spend $275 million for a new civic center and City Hall, what makes it better for the City Council to act without voter perspective on the very thing they rejected nearly two years ago?

The council has issued $260 million in something called “anticipation note” to pay for the project that voters rejected. A local businessman, Alex Fairly, has challenged the city with a lawsuit filed in 108th District Court. Someone sent me a copy of the lawsuit and I have looked it over. It’s pretty straightforward. It alleges that the city is acting illegally with those anticipation notes, contending they aren’t meant to be spent on this enormous project.

Back to my question about that earlier vote against this idea.

Mayor Ginger Nelson said she wants the city to act in a way that doesn’t overload taxpayers. Hmm. The city tax rate would increase 29.5% with the anticipation note. The municipal tax rate would increase from 44 cents per $100 valuation to 57 cents. Is that too big a burden? Some folks might think so.

Amarillo City Council vote to fund Civic Center; challenged in court

I don’t believe cities, when handed an electoral defeat of the magnitude that occurred in Amarillo, should conduct the kind of razzle dazzle we’re seeing taking place. Voters who take their roles seriously as the “bosses” of those they select to govern have good reason in this case to wonder: How can the city’s governing council believe it can get away with this?

Explain yourself, city council

The fecal matter is going to hit the fan in due course once the word gets out in Amarillo about what the city council has done regarding expenditure of vast amounts of public money.

Here is what I think ought to happen.

Mayor Ginger Nelson and City Manager Jared Miller need to conduct a press conference and explain themselves fully to the media and to voters about what is transpiring at City Hall. I am a distant bystander, but I would like to hear their side of the story.

The story is this: The city has embarked on the issuance of $260 million in “anticipation notes” to pay for a lot of construction work. The city wants a new entertainment and business complex and a new city hall. Voters said “no” to a bond issue in November 2020, but the city council decided in late May to issue those anticipation notes. It was done, according to a lawsuit being filed in the 108th District Court, without proper public notification.

I don’t know how you define “breach of faith” with voters in legal terms, but it is looking to me — sitting out here in the peanut gallery — that the city has breached that faith. I don’t yet know how the community is reacting to what is transpiring.

The best defense for the city would be to get ahead of this story before it runs off the rails, if it hasn’t already. How does it do that? By offering a full and thorough explanation.

The suit poses a lot of questions that need answers. Did the city violate any laws by enacting this measure with just a single reading? Did it post adequate public notice in advance of its action? Is it legal to spend “anticipation notes” in this manner?

Voters already have made their feelings known on this project. The city needs to explain how it can proceed against the will of its bosses … the individuals whose money pays for all of it.

Trouble is brewing?

If what I have read has legs, there might be a serious storm brewing on the Texas Caprock.

The Amarillo City Council, according to a message that one of my Amarillo spies has delivered to me, has decided to circumvent the will of the voters while seeking to build a new civic entertainment and City Hall complex.

Voters in Amarillo rejected a $275 million bond issue in November 2020 to pay for the project. More than 60% of them said “no.” That apparently didn’t dissuade the council from moving forward.

This past week, the council approved a proposal that piles on $260 million worth of debt on taxpayers. The money is intended to pay for the aforementioned entertainment complex and City Hall. It has been shoved through with something called Anticipation Notes. Those notes are supposed to be set aside for short-term repairs, not the kind of long-term projects envisioned by the City Council.

There appears to be a lawsuit in the making to stop this foolishness.

As one who generally supports Amarillo City Hall, I am left to wonder: What in the world are they thinking up yonder?

Voters have spoken their piece. The people who are supposed to do the voters’ bidding appear to be seeking to perform a bit of razzle-dazzle.

So, how does this work? It appears to my nearly blind eyes that we have a City Council that wants to break faith with the bosses. According to a message distributed on a site called “Inspire Amarillo”: When government leaders try to impose taxes without notice or a good-faith discussion, flashing red lights should be going off for every citizen, no matter which side of an issue you are on. And it’s especially concerning when elected officials contradict voters and potentially circumvent the law to do it.

Here’s the entire statement, as it paints a clearer picture:

Inspire Amarillo | City of Amarillo Lawsuit

I admit to a lack of knowledge of the particulars. I thought I would raise the issue here to call attention to what well could be interpreted as a serious abuse of trust in a city that has boasted over many years that residents harbor an implicit faith that City Hall works on behalf of the residents whose tax money pays the bills.

I have witnessed municipal recall efforts triggered for less than what might be transpiring in Amarillo.

Stay tuned … shall we?

Massacre must mobilize us

As a general rule I do not categorize myself as a “single-issue voter” motivated to cast my ballot on just one critical issue of the moment.

The massacre that erupted in Uvalde, Texas, however, is likely to turn me into someone I do not generally profess to be. Nineteen children and two educators are dead today in the wake of the state’s worst-ever school massacre and the second-deadliest such tragedy in the nation’s history.

My aim now — along with my bride — is to ensure that every candidate for statewide office on the ballot this year, along with local congressional, legislative and county candidates seeking my vote answer this question the correct way: Are you willing to support the enactment of laws — either at the state or federal level — that seek to prevent future tragedies such as what has occurred in Uvalde?

If they hem and haw their way around an answer and follow the preposterous lead of the likes of Sen. Ted Cruz, then they will not have my vote. Cruz decided immediately Tuesday after the Uvalde slaughter to blame the media and Democrats for “politicizing” the issue of gun violence.

Politicize? Is this nimrod serious?

We happen to require a political solution to this crisis and make no mistake, we have entered a crisis with this spate of gun violence.

I will reject with all due vigor any notion that we cannot find a legislative solution. I will reject as well the notion that we cannot find common ground among politicians to seek solutions that do not violate our Constitution’s guarantee of the right of Americans to “keep and bear arms.”

Any politician who cannot bring himself or herself to seek those solutions needs to be voted out of office and banished from the public arena.

We have had enough.