Tag Archives: Alphonso Vaughn

Potter County joins downtown game

Potter County is in the game to rehabilitate downtown Amarillo.

And why not? The downtown district sits entirely within Potter County. The county will derive direct benefit from whatever accrues from downtown’s revival — assuming, of course, that it ever gets going.

The Commissioners Court voted 3-2 Monday to approve a tax abatement for the Coca-Cola Distribution Center, which now paves the way for the center to vacate downtown for a new site at CenterPort Business Park. The county will forgo tens of thousands of dollars in annual tax revenue from Coke. It will gain — again, hoping for the best — much more in return as downtown kick starts its revival.

That revival is supposed to include a “multipurpose event venue,” or MPEV, a parking garage and a convention hotel.

It’s supposed to cost $113 million, which developers hope will come from private investors who’ll just be delighted to death to sink their money into these projects.

I truly hope it happens. I believe the downtown project has enormous potential for the city.

Just imagine Amarillo’s minor league baseball team, the Sox, playing home games in a shiny new venue other than that rat-hole facility next door to the Tri-State Fairgrounds.

Potter County’s continued foot-dragging, though, is problematic.

I applaud commissioners for seeking to perform due diligence on the project. The “no” votes came from commissioners Alphonso Vaughn and Mercy Murguia, both of whom have demonstrated a willingness to ask difficult questions of sometimes-recalcitrant principals.

The county, though, ought to stand arm-in-arm with the city on this matter. The city is taking the lead on the development, but the county also has skin in this game, given that downtown rests entirely within Potter County.

I’ll stand by my earlier blog post and wonder when they’re going to start construction on this project. I’m getting a tad impatient, as I’m sure many other observers have become anxious for the work to begin.

All in all, though, the county made the right call. Now, let’s fire up the bulldozers.

County judge gets his comeuppance

Am I the only person in Amarillo who wonders whether Potter County Judge Arthur Ware’s behavior of late has angered his colleagues on the Commissioners Court?

The judge asked his colleagues this week for a pay raise during the next budget year, but the commission — all four members — told him in effect “no dice.” Commissioner H.R. Kelly told Ware he needed a decrease in pay rather than a $2,700 annual increase. Why? Well, Ware isn’t doing his job.

To be fair, Ware’s inability to do his job isn’t his fault. He suffered a grievous stroke in 2010 that has left him significantly impaired. He cannot speak effectively. Ware’s paralysis along his right side remains a tremendous handicap as well. He has had to spend lengthy periods of time “off the clock” undergoing intensive rehabilitation. The result of all this has been that many of his duties have been farmed out to other county officials.

I am among those with great respect for the service Ware has given to the county, and indeed to the nation by virtue of his service during the Persian Gulf War as a Marine.

I’m scratching my head, though, over his request for a raise when he hasn’t done the job to which he’s been elected.

That’s not the end of this drama. He recently fired longtime and loyal administrative assistant Nancy Tanner. He still hasn’t explained why he fired the person upon whom he has depended for 20 years. State employment law doesn’t require Ware to explain, given that Texas is an “at will” state that allows employers to fire anyone for any reason, or for no reason. That’s no reason for him to stonewall the public.

Commissioner Alphonso Vaughn said the county would be “negligent” if it gave Ware a pay raise, given that he has been unable to do much of the work required of him.

The county judge, who once enjoyed the unqualified support of many officials and staffers at the courthouse, is facing a serious decision about his public service career. Does he seek re-election next year? If he does, how in this world is he going to explain how he is capable of doing a job he hasn’t done since that crippling and tragic stroke?

As for the raise, Ware’s colleagues took the only action available to them.