William Barr: biggest disappointment of Trump Cabinet

I wanted William Barr to be a stellar choice to become U.S. attorney general. I wanted him to demonstrate that Donald Trump was capable of selecting someone with high honor, integrity and gravitas.

He has disappointed me in the extreme.

Barr came to the AG post after serving in that position for President Bush 41. He distinguished himself well serving as the head of Justice Department near the end of President Bush’s single term. My hope when he emerged as the successor to Jeff Sessions was that he would do so yet again.

Instead, he has done so many things that have shattered my misplaced optimism.

He disagreed with the inspector general’s findings that the FBI was not motivated by partisan bias when it began its probe into the Russian attack on our electoral system; he continues to insist that the FBI “spied” on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign; he misrepresented special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings into “The Russia Thing”; he said Mueller cleared Trump of “collusion,” when Mueller did nothing of the kind.

Former AG Eric Holder has said that Barr is “unfit” to serve as attorney general. I fear he is right.

William Barr took an oath in effect to be the people’s lawyer. He has become the president’s personal legal bag man.

He is the No. 1 disappointment to emerge from the Trump morass.

Memo to City Hall: Reveal location of proposed new site

Amarillo City Hall isn’t going to ask me for political advice, given that I don’t live in Amarillo, but I’ll offer it anyway.

If the city proceeds with a bond issue next year to determine whether residents want to re-do the Civic Center and relocate City Hall to a new location, the city needs to reveal to voters which site it has in mind to move its administrative offices.

One of my Amarillo spies has told me the city hasn’t yet made that decision public, if it’s made it at all. My spy believes the city might want to keep it secret while it negotiates with whomever owns whatever structure the city wants to acquire.

I believe the city needs to tell residents where it wants to go if it is going to ask them to pony up $300 million-plus on an array of public improvement projects.

To keep that information quiet would ring the death knell for the city’s efforts to vacate its current City Hall building for another existing building in downtown Amarillo.

Residents there, as I understand it, remain a bit skeptical of the city’s claim of transparency.

I also am willing to argue that the city shouldn’t ask voters to approve a relocation if it doesn’t have a site in mind. Part of the cost of that bond issue is going to include preparing a new building to become home to many city administrative functions. How in the world does the city spell out the cost if it doesn’t have an idea of where it intends to move and what it intends to do with whatever property it is considering for purchase?

A citywide bond election in 2020 is going to be a big deal. The Civic Center improvements appear to be warranted. The city also wants to revamp the Santa Fe Depot structure just east of the Civic Center.

A City Hall relocation remains a problem, particularly if city officials don’t reveal to the “bosses,” the voters who pay the bill, where they intend to put a new city office structure.

Resolved to make no new year’s resolutions

A new year is about to dawn. Many of us will resolve to do better in the coming year than we’ve done in the year that’s about to fade away forever.

We’ll resolve to eat better, to exercise more, to be kinder, to enjoy life, to quit smoking/chewing/vaping or anything else that harms our body, lose weight, get a better job … sheesh!

I long ago made a new year’s resolution of a different sort. I resolved to make no such resolution.

Over the years I’ve made my share of them. I cannot recall ever fulfilling a single resolution. They all fell short. It’s my fault. I lack the discipline to see a resolution through to completion. Except that by declining to make a resolution to usher in the new year I can guarantee a certain level of success. I know that’s perverse, but it’s the truth.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am light years away from perfect. I am packing too much weight. I don’t get enough sleep each night. I get a bit grouchy at times. Some readers of this blog think I am misguided politically.

I celebrated a landmark birthday the other day. I turned 70 years of age. I find it strange in the extreme to think about my age. Dad didn’t live to see 60; Mom died at 61. They never got old. I’m already there, although I am blessed with good — if not great — health.

Therein lies what might constitute something of a resolution, which is to resolve to keep doing the things that have given me 70 years of good health.

The rest of it should take care of itself … I hope.

Bonnen broke the law, but let’s not prosecute him

BLOGGER’S NOTE: This blog post was published initially on the KETR-FM website.

I guess the verdict is in on Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen’s secret meeting with a right-wing activist.

The speaker likely broke a campaign finance law when he met with Empower Texans guru Michael Quinn Sullivan, offered up the names of 10 fellow Republican legislators that Empower Texans could try to defeat in the 2020 election and then offered the right-wing PAC a media pass, giving the PAC immediate access to House members working on the floor of the chamber.

The House General Investigating Committee issued the report, then closed its investigation.

What should happen now? My hope – and it’s just me speaking for myself – is that Bonnen can retire quietly at the end of next year and disappear into the tall grass, never to be seen or heard from again in public life. There need not be a criminal investigation.

General Investigating Committee Chairman Morgan Meyer, a Dallas Republican, suggested that the report precludes any criminal investigation, even though Bonnen likely broke the law.

According to the Texas Tribune: Bonnen “likely violated” a section of the Texas Government Code, according to Meyer, who was reading from the report … — but advisers in the report said the law provided no “independent statutory consequences” for a state official who breaches it.

That section states that a state officer or employee should not “accept or solicit any gift, favor or service that might reasonably tend to influence the officer or employee in the discharge of official duties, or that the officer or employee knows or should know is being offered with the intent to influence the officer’s or employee’s official conduct.

I get all that. Here’s the deal, though: Bonnen took a lot of political heat and pushback from his fellow Republicans, about 30 of whom demanded he resign the House speakership. He at first denied the meeting with Sullivan. Then Sullivan produced a recording of the meeting. He outed Bonnen, who then announced he wouldn’t seek re-election to his House seat in Angleton in 2020.

Good riddance! That ought to be enough of a punishment for the speaker who double-crossed his supposed allies in the Texas House of Representatives.

As the saying goes: This case is closed. Let’s move on and let the next Texas House of Representatives select a speaker who will remain faithful to any pledge he or she makes to work with his colleagues and avoid stabbing them in the back.