Tag Archives: Amarillo

Amarillo wants to govern traffic to fight abortion?

Amarillo’s five-member — and all-male — city council has me scratching my noggin over a highly dubious law it is considering for approval.

Let’s see how this works. The city is considering a ban on people using public roadways if they intend to travel through the city to obtain an abortion.

This prompts what — to me, at least — is an obvious question: How in the name of Big Brother does the city enforce such a law?

Amarillo, where I lived for 23 years before my wife and I relocated to the D/FW Metroplex, is the largest Texas city to ponder such a screwball idea. The city is getting plenty of pushback on it and the council so far is unable to make a decision.

This week, the council conducted a special meeting at the civic center to accommodate the crowd attending, but it didn’t allow any public comment.

This notion is being pushed by those on the far right who oppose abortion to the extent that they want to make it illegal for a woman to obtain one. The Amarillo City Council is considering whether to weigh in on it.

I am shaking my head over this goofy notion. I want to stipulate that the council contains not a single woman. These all are men making a decision that involves whether a woman can control her body.

I’ll get back to my point, which is that such a law is unenforceable! How do police track the traffic? How does anyone determine whether an occupant in the vehicle is heading for an out-of-state medical clinic to obtain an abortion?

And aren’t the right-wingers of this world opposed to big government, that they oppose the Big Brother imposing his will on the people? Oh, wait. I almost forgot! Their anti-Big Brother posture applies only to those issues that don’t get ’em all riled up.

This is about the slipperiest slope I have ever seen … ever!

More to the story? Hmm …

You can describe me as not entirely surprised that there might be more to a story involving a Republican congressman who — reportedly — helped someone in distress in a rodeo outside of Amarillo.

It turns out there might be more to examine in the conduct of Rep. Ronny Jackson.

Reports initially stated that Jackson rushed to aid a teenager who was having a seizure in a rodeo in Carson County. Now comes word from Sheriff Tam Terry that Jackson threatened him politically if he didn’t examine the incident further.

According to the Texas Tribune: After the congressman was released, he demanded Carson County Sheriff Tam Terry call him and investigate the incident. During that call, Terry, a Republican, said that Jackson warned him that he would “bury me in the next election.”

Moreover, we now hear from a police report that sheriff’s deputies tried to clear the area, but that Jackson refused their orders, screaming at deputies who — according to reports — were merely trying to do their job.

Jackson’s office also said that the congressman had not been drinking, but wait … now we hear that he was seen imbibing in adult beverages prior to all hell breaking loose.

“Congressman Jackson was not drinking and was prevented from giving medical care in a potentially life-threatening situation due to overly aggressive and incompetent actions by the local authorities present at the time of the incident,” said Kate Lair, a spokesperson for Jackson. “Again, he was asked to help the teenager when no other uniformed medics were present. Congressman Jackson, as a trained ER physician, will not apologize for sparing no effort to help in a medical emergency, especially when the circumstances were chaotic and the local authorities refused to help the situation.”

Ronny Jackson cursed at, threatened officers in altercation at rodeo | The Texas Tribune

What the spokeswoman does not acknowledge, of course, is that Jackson has been perceived by many as a political hothead since taking office in the 13th Congressional District in 2021. He has been heard many times making hysterical statements about the “Deep State” and vowing to investigate the Biden administration for misdeeds that never occurred.

All of this gives the latest updated information about what happened in Carson County a bit more credibility.


Trying to fathom the flood

Some things in our life simply defy our meager attempts to understand them … such as Mother Nature’s occasional lack of mercy.

I refer this time to the incessant rain that has inundated the Texas Panhandle, a place my wife and I called home for than two decades. We thought at the time we relocated there from the Gulf Coast that we were moving to a sort of desert.

In some years it fulfilled that fantasy.

Not this year. Not this month. The Panhandle is under water. Literally!

I have many friends there who I know are suffering from outright terror at what could happen to them or their property. Their fear in this moment is legit. It is real.

Years ago, I chatted with the late Rick Klein, a former Amarillo mayor, who recalled flooding that occurred there in the late 1970s. The city vowed to correct that issue, Klein said. So it built an artificial lake just south of Interstate 40. The basin is intended to catch surplus rainwater and keep it from pouring into people’s homes and businesses.

What’s happened lately? The basin is full. As in to its brim! The rainwater at this moment has nowhere to go but into people’s homes and businesses.

I cannot offer any suggestions to combat this horrible string of events. It’s out of anyone’s control. Mother Nature answers to no one.

You’ve heard it said in recent years after mass shootings that a nation’s “thoughts and prayers” are not enough. I am going to offer thoughts and prayers to my friends in the Texas Panhandle. Why? Because that’s truly all we can do to bring relief from Mother Nature’s cruel wrath.


Another leg completed

SANTA FE, N.M. — The longest leg of this extraordinary journey is complete. I am pooped. So is Toby the Puppy.

The next two legs will be pieces of cake compared to what we just endured. What was that?

We left this morning at 5. Our trip from Richfield, Utah to a campsite just north of Santa Fe was all of 570 miles. My Ford Ranger guidance system said it would take about eight hours of drive time. It took us 11 hours.

We had to get some shut-eye along the way, Toby the Puppy and I had to relieve ourselves, we needed gas and I stopped for lunch in Cortez, Colo.

My bride, Kathy Anne, and I lived in West Texas for 23 years before moving to Princeton in 2019. During our time out yonder, we learned one irrefutable truth about that part of the world: In order to get anywhere, you have to drive some distance. Amarillo is a long way from most destinations, so we accustomed ourselves to driving a while to get to where we needed to go.

Those trips, though, rarely required us to drive 570 miles.

I’m going to see friends near Lubbock and then family in greater Austin before I point my buggy toward the house.

This journey has been worth the effort. I’ll have more to say about it later. Just know that I believe it was the correct course of action to take.


City’s face is changing

AMARILLO, Texas — Returning on occasion to a city my wife and I called home for 23 years always is a treat in one important regard.

Every time I come back to Amarillo, I see development that was non-existent on previous visits. My latest foray to the unofficial capital of the Texas Panhandle provided a glaring example of what I mean.

We lived in far southwest Amarillo, in a neighborhood that served the Canyon Independent School District. I ventured to the old ‘hood to look at the house we had built in late 1996. The new residents are taking good care of the place. I drove down Hillside Road and saw strip malls galore that weren’t there just a few years ago. I ventured along Loop 335 and saw more of the same. Coulter Street is bustling, man.

I noticed construction of the new “loop” is well underway. Crews have erected overpasses and are moving many tons of dirt around.

A movie theater that once entertained crowds north of Interstate 40 is closed; that’s a downer, but then again, it’s probably a sign of the new era of “streaming.”

My son and I went out to the Town Square development for a night cap the other evening and it, too, has come a long way.

The fire department has erected a new station next door to the hotel where I am staying on Paramount Boulevard. Therefore, I am confident that firefighters would respond rapidly in case of well … emergency.

I ventured downtown to take care of some personal business and noticed that the parking garage across the street from the ballpark where the Sod Poodles play hardball is still virtually empty. There has been next to zero retail occupancy declared along all those storefronts. That, too, is a drag.

But the downtown district looks alive and well. The Barfield Hotel looks like a gem of a restoration project.

And so … the once moribund burg where I worked and offered opinions on issues of the day for the newspaper, appears to be in good health. That makes me happy.

Oh, the newspaper? The Amarillo Globe-News? Well, that’s another story for another day. It is pitiful.


Cadillac Ranch is alive and bustling!

AMARILLO, Texas — Wherever he is, Stanley Marsh 3 is smiling approvingly at what is happening to his roadside creation just west of this Texas Panhandle city.

My first stop on my westward journey was to a place with which I am familiar, as we lived in Amarillo for 23 years before relocating a few years ago to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

I use the word “familiar” with caution, because what I saw today bore little resemblance to what I have seen on countless visits to Cadillac Ranch, the attraction featuring 10 Caddies buried nose down in the dirt.

What is happening to Cadillac Ranch is that it is becoming the kind of “roadside attraction” that could translate to serious cash for the community.

The frontage road in front of the Ranch along Interstate 40 was packed with vehicles from many states. I saw license plates from Tennessee, Washington, California, Missouri, Oklahoma. That was just a fraction of the vehicles parked alongside the highway.

The wind was howling (of course!). A concession stand was peddling spray paint cannisters. One woman walking toward the Caddies reminded me that she needed to keep her back to the 50 mph gusts.

I purchased an overpriced ball cap inscribed with “Cadillac Ranch, Est. 1974, Amarillo, TX.” I told the kid hawking the caps that he was “quite proud of them,” to which he said he has told the owners they are overcharging for the merchandise.

I am not privy to what Stanley Marsh had in mind when he buried the Cadillacs nose-first in ’74. However, I cannot help but think he would be happy as the dickens at what has transpired since he came up with the kookie notion.

One of my sons believes that when Stanley was alive he was using Cadillacs as antennae to communicate with space aliens. You know what? Knowing the strange, rich guy as I did, I would put nothing past him. Nothing!

But … he’s no longer among us. We are left now to applaud the growing attraction of Cadillac Ranch to visitors from far away.

Stanley would be proud.


No more red-light cams

This bit of news saddens me, even though I no longer live in the city I once called home for more than two decades.

Amarillo is shutting down its devices installed to protect motorists and pedestrians from those who disobey street signals that order them to stop. The city’s traffic department is dismantling its red-light cameras in accordance with a Texas Legislature mandate that prohibits cities from deploying them.

The Legislature had allowed cities that had the cameras in operation to keep using them until their current contracts expired. Amarillo’s contract has run out. The cameras are coming down.

It’s not that I want Big Brother involved in regulating our lives. It is only that in this instance, the cameras helped deter dipsh** drivers from breaking the law.

The most ridiculous argument against the cameras came from a lawyer friend of mine who argued that the cameras are an “invasion of privacy.” To which I reminded him that when you operate a vehicle in an unsafe manner on public streets, you surrender whatever “privacy” you thought you had.

I am reminded of what a former city council member, Ellen Green, once admonished critics of the cameras. “If you don’t want to pay the fine, then don’t disobey the light,” she said … or words to that effect.

I understand that the cameras did reduce the instances of red-light running in Amarillo. The city once thought they were important enough to install. I just wish the Legislature would have allowed cities to make these decisions for themselves.


Will this action rile ’em up?

For the nearly 18 years that I worked for the Amarillo Globe-News, I learned something about the population of the city where my wife and I lived during all that time … and then some.

It took a whole lot to rile folks up enough to take strong political action against local government.

That brings me to my point: Will the city council’s decision to pile on $260 million in debt to build a new civic center and relocate City Hall be enough to fire up the masses?

I don’t live there any longer, so I don’t have a dog in that particular fight. Thus, I’ll reserve judgment on what I believe my friends who remain there will do.

Amarillo voters cast ballots en masse during the November 2020 election in rejecting a bond issue to build a new civic center. It was roughly a 60-40% “no” vote. The council, though, decided to go after something called “anticipation notes” totaling $260 million. The debt will boost the municipal tax rate about 59% over a period of time.

If you own, say, a $250,000 home in Amarillo, the tax bite will be substantial.

I’ve already implored Mayor Ginger Nelson and City Manager Jared Miller to get ahead of this matter. Explain the thinking behind what appears to the untrained eye to be a slap in voters’ faces. I am casually acquainted with Nelson; I don’t know Miller. I cannot predict what they are thinking or pondering.

If they do not explain themselves, though, there might be enough latent frustration in the city to spur some sort of political uprising. Perhaps it will come in the form of a recall election. Or perhaps it will occur at the next citywide municipal election when a slate of candidates could run against the current council and, well, give ’em the boot.

It happened just a few years ago when some residents disliked the push to build the downtown baseball park now known as Hodgetown. That tempest turned out to be all for naught. The park rose up and they’re filling the stands most nights at Hodgetown with fans cheering for the Sod Poodles minor-league baseball team.

This dust-up won’t dissipate anytime soon.

Just remember that voters throughout the land are angry at government at all levels for reasons that at times make no sense. Raising people’s property taxes, though, over their expressed desire against it seems to be cause for some turmoil.


What will happen to this site?

I lived in Amarillo, Texas, for 23 years and worked each day for nearly 18 of those years at the Globe-News, a once-good newspaper.

My daily journalism career came to an end in August 2012. The newspaper remains, but at this point it is a newspaper in name only. Yes, the paper still publishes seven days a week. It no longer publishes at the building where it operated for many decades. The printing press is in Lubbock and I don’t know how they handle business affairs, or circulation matters.

The newsroom? A formerly vibrant working environment has been all but eliminated; they’re down to maybe two or three reporters and some stringers (I guess).

The building is vacant. It is in a state of architectural decomposition. The corporate moguls vacated the building and moved what is left of the staff to an office in a downtown bank tower.

The once-proud structure is “tagged” with graffiti. They put out a fire inside the structure a few weeks ago.

The company that used to own the newspaper is still trying to sell the building, from what I hear. I do not know the state of that effort, such as whether it is being marketed aggressively. I don’t get back often to Amarillo, but my hunch is that it is just going to rot some more.

I want to lament the demise of that structure one more time.

The Globe-News used to aspire to becoming a great newspaper. It didn’t quite get there. We did a good job of reporting the news during my time there. I tried to lend some leadership via the opinion pages during my tenure as editor of those pages.

That was then. The here and now suggests to me that the newspaper itself is fading into the community’s past. It saddens me greatly.


Roadwork does not end

Every return to Amarillo brings new discoveries for us, such as our most recent venture to the city we called home for more than two decades.

The latest discovery deals with road construction. Suffice to say, the slogan that the late Stanley Marsh 3 was fond of displaying — “Road Does Not End” — needs a slight change … to “roadwork does not end.”

Wow! The Loop 335 extension along Helium Road is a monstrous project that to my eyes looks to be years from completion. Same for the work that the Texas Department of Transportation is doing along the southwestern quadrant between Soncy Road and Georgia Street.

Oh, and how about Interstates 40 and 27? I’ll say that our return enabled us to haul our fifth wheel safely and without a hint of peril along I-40, as most of the work along its easternmost lanes is largely complete.

We didn’t around too much of the city during our most recent visit. We trekked to Canyon a couple of times and spent a glorious autumn day hiking in Palo Duro Canyon. Getting from our RV park to those locations proved to be, um, a bit of a nerve-tester as we wound our way through the roadwork.

I want to offer a bit of friendly counsel to our many friends who must endure this seeming madness. Be patient. Please. Do not let your frustrations boil over.

I remember when this work was in the discussion stage. The state and the city haggled and dickered over what to do, when to do it and laid out the best-laid plans possible for a massive job.

That job is now underway. May it continue apace. Just remember, that the “roadwork actually does end.” Eventually.

Until next time …