Going back to school to study Amarillo 101

I’m heading back to school, so to speak.

Sad to say I’ll miss the first day of class, but I’ll pick it up on Day Two and then go with it the rest of the way. It ought to be an interesting endeavor.

Amarillo City Hall has invited me to be part of a class called Amarillo 101. Its aim is to teach its students about the basics of what makes City Hall tick. I’ve been able to watch our city government up close in my job as a daily journalist, which I did in Amarillo for nearly 18 years before leaving that job in August 2012. I’ve been a freelance blogger and part-time employee in other pursuits ever since.

Frankly, I’m flattered that City Hall would ask a washed-up journalist to take part in this exercise. I don’t claim to know everything about how the city provides service to its 195,000 or so residents. I know a good bit about it. What I don’t know I’ll learn.

The first session is going to go over a lot of the city organizational structure, its history, charter, the City Commission, open meetings, the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation and the Public Information Act. The second session will cover some hands-on duties, such as driving a trash pickup truck, a bus, operating a knuckle-boom truck and operating a backhoe.

There’ll be other sessions covering how the city spends our tax money and we’ll get a tour of the city’s newly rebuilt Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport. We’ll also talk about the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone and public improvement districts.

I did something similar years ago when I went through an 11-week Citizens Police Academy. That gig, I’ll tell you, was a serious blast.

I might be too old to do a lot of things, but as they say, you’re never too old to learn something.

I’m looking forward to peeking under the City Hall tent.