City faces serious fracturing

While we’re on the topic of the newly reconstituted Amarillo City Council, let’s discuss for a moment a serious result of what might transpire over the next couple of years.

We have a serious division of interests among the five members.

Three of the council members — Elisha Demerson, Mark Nair and Randy Burkett — want significant change. They want it now. They aren’t waiting.

The other two members — Mayor Paul Harpole and Councilman Brian Eades — don’t want it. They do not want to see the city manager leave office, which the others apparently want to see happen.

The three-member new-guy majority also is looking skeptically at the downtown plan as it’s been presented. They might want to gut the whole thing.

The other two? They’re all in with the plans for the multipurpose event venue, the downtown convention hotel and the parking garage.

One of the more fascinating back stories of all this drama involves the mayor. Paul Harpole, though, represents precisely the same constituency as his four council colleagues. They’re all elected at-large. That gives the mayor little actual political power. He doesn’t have veto authority. He cannot direct other council members to do anything. They all operate independently of each other, or at least have the potential for doing so.

All that unity, oneness of purpose and collegiality that used to be the mantra at City Hall?

It’s gone, at least for the short term.

What we’re likely to get is something quite different. Let us now see if this is the “change” that works for the city’s advancement.


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