A dear friend and former colleague of mine once told me, “There are about as many original ideas as there are original sins.”
With that predicate laid out there, I offer this notion that I’ve appropriated from another good friend.
The three men who comprise the newly elected majority on the Amarillo City Council have a choice to make. Do they want to institute fundamental “change” in city government or do they want to do what previous governing bodies have done, which is punt a controversial issue to the voters — to let the voters make the decision?
Councilmen Elisha Demerson, Randy Burkett and Mark Nair have indicated, implied and inferred that they are skeptical of plans to build a multipurpose event venue just south of City Hall.
Here’s the idea: Gentlemen, take this matter up yourselves and decide whether to proceed with the project.
One alternative being kicked around is to conduct a citywide referendum. Let the voters have their say. It’s the democratic process in action, it’s been said. And, by golly, the voters have been kept in the dark for too long, or so the line goes.
It’s pure manure. You are free to choose its source, but it still stinks.
If the gentlemen elected this year to the City Council want change, then they should stand foursquare for it and make the command decision they contend the voters elected them to make. Vote up or down on whether you want the MPEV to move forward.
A referendum would be non-binding, although it would constitute political suicide if the council decided to buck the wishes of the people and reject whatever decision they would make. If voters reject the MPEV idea, then the deal dies. If voters say “yes” to the MPEV, it moves ahead.
What’s more, a referendum is going to cost a significant amount of money.
Look at it this way: The men whom voters elected to the City Council all talked out loud — and often — about the need for greater transparency and accountability in city government. Fine. Voters heard them and sent them to City Hall to be, well, transparent and accountable.
So, why not persuade Mayor Paul Harpole — the council’s presiding officer — to call a series of public hearings to debate this matter among themselves? Have it out in the open, in full public view. Argue among yourselves. State your case. Is the MPEV a good or bad thing for the city?
Once you’ve exhausted yourselves, then deliberate like the gentlemen you are and take a vote.
Up or down. Then live with whatever political consequence that will result.
I believe that’s what we call “leadership.”