Surely you remember when Amarillo’s city commission (that’s what they called it in those days) would enact an ordinance and there would be virtually no public discussion — let alone debate — about its effectiveness.
From my far-away perch these days, that era might have become a relic of Texas Panhandle history.
A group of citizens has filed a petition calling for the repeal of an ordinance that authorizes the city to spend $260 million in what it calls “anticipation notes” to finance construction of a City Hall and renovation of the city’s Civic Center.
The petition appears to have plenty of legs to carry it forward. Petitioners filed it in the 320th District Court in Potter County. Now we just need to know where it goes from here.
My ol’ trick knee tells me there well might be a municipal election on tap to repeal that ordinance and send the council back to Square One in its effort to modernize and upgrade its municipal convention and meeting spaces.
I’ve been trying to figure out what has changed in the city I once called home. Is it the anger that pervades so much of our government, that it has seeped into City Hall? Is there a legitimate call for greater transparency and accountability among our local governments?
You see, voters rejected a similarly sized bond issue in November 2020. The City Council decided, apparently, that the “no” vote was insufficient to guide its future decisions. So it sought the anticipation note funding mechanism earlier this year.
It didn’t go over well with at least one local businessman, Alex Fairly, who filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the process. He seems to be getting some traction. The petition? It drew 12,000 signatures in a blink of time.
This discussion could prove to be most helpful and perhaps even therapeutic for a city that long has placed implicit trust that its elected governing body will always do and say the right thing.