Tag Archives: Jared Miller

Council to meet at 7 a.m.? Really?

Let me stipulate that I don’t really have a dog in this fight, given that I no longer live in Amarillo, Texas.

That doesn’t disallow me from speaking out on what I believe is a strange policy shift at City Hall.

The City Council, beginning Sept. 4, is going to start meeting at 7 a.m. Yep, that’s seven bells after midnight. That’s early in the day, man!

Why the change? I guess City Manager Jared Miller is up for a change just because he can change the meeting time at his discretion.

The city is seeking to save money, given that some city staffers have to attend council meetings. So, rather than pay them overtime to attend a 5 p.m. council meeting — which is after hours for staff members — Miller believes that staff members will be on the clock already so they can attend council meetings.

I get that. But what about the constituents who want to attend council meetings? They have children to prepare for school. They have to do their own prep to make themselves presentable at the start of a work day. When does someone roll out of the rack? Five? Six? Can they get ready in an hour before motoring down to City Hall?

The City Council is going to launch this new meeting schedule for a 90-day trial. Good luck with it. I have to agree with the complainers who dislike the 7 a.m. start for City Council meetings.

It’s too early!

Amarillo official on verge of poetic job promotion

Bob Cowell is on the cusp of possibly scoring a remarkably poetic change in his professional career.

Cowell is the Amarillo deputy city manager who for a time served as the top municipal administrator until the City Council selected Jared Miller as the new city manager. Cowell had applied for the permanent appointment, but was passed over for Miller, who came to Amarillo from San Marcos, the Hill Country city where he also served as city manager.

OK, here’s where it gets interesting.

Cowell has been named one of five finalists for the San Marcos city manager’s job. He could be tapped to succeed the man who left that post to take the municipal administrative reins in Amarillo.

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s rather cool.

Even though I do not know Cowell, my hope was that he would stay on as deputy manager if the City Council selected another individual to lead the city staff. I understand, though, that a man’s got to do what’s best for himself and his family. Heck, I left my home state of Oregon in 1984 to pursue my own career way down yonder in Beaumont, Texas — and in the process subjected my wife and two young sons to some serious culture shock; we powered through it and Texas is now home.

I am going to root for Cowell to get the San Marcos gig. He appears to have been a solid and steady hand in Amarillo. He well might be what they need in San Marcos to run that community’s city hall now that Jared Miller has trekked northwest to Amarillo.

It would be poetic, yes?

City manager shows serious class

I like Jared Miller’s style.

The Amarillo city manager has been on the job for just a few days and he already is serving notice that he is in the business of learning about the municipal government he is now administering.

Miller has told all candidates for the City Council and for mayor that he wants to hear from them. He wants to know their objectives, their goals and their aspirations. Miller wants to sit down with all them and, I am going to presume for a moment, listen intently to what these individuals have in mind if they get elected to the council.

They, after all, will be his bosses. Two incumbents are running for re-election. Three new council members will take their seats after the May 6 election; one of the newbies will be the mayor, the presiding officer of the governing body.

Yes, it will be a consequential election with the second consecutive new majority taking over from the previous group. The size of that new majority, of course, is yet to be determined.

Miller’s role will be determined by how well he and the new council work together.

The part of Miller’s style I find appealing is his proactive approach to determining how that relationship should develop. He’ll learn about all the candidates, who in turn will learn about the city’s chief executive officer.

Moreover, Miller is likely to learn about this community and the amazing change that’s occurring at this very moment.

I have encountered a tiny handful of individuals over the years who have come to communities such as this one, assume positions of importance and power — and never ask a single question about their new city of residence. They come here believing they have all the answers and aren’t interested in learning anything new.

An individual such as that, simply, doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.

Jared Miller looks to me as though he is intent on learning.

I am heartened by what I am sensing early in the Miller administration at City Hall.

Manager gets strong statement of support

So, the Jared Miller era at Amarillo City Hall is off to a rousing start.

The City Council has voted unanimously to hire Miller as the next city manager. I am heartened by this news. I do not harbor concerns that the new manager has nowhere to go but down after this.

It’s been a rocky time at City Hall. Two city managers have quit under duress. The first one to go, Jarrett Atkinson, couldn’t work with the new council majority; the second one to split, interim manager Terry Childers, couldn’t control his big mouth and resigned after cursing at a constituent.

I’m going to hope now for a smooth transition — which is kind of in the news these days, you know — as Miller gets set to grasp the reins of municipal government.

City Hall is in dire need of some stability.

Not only did Atkinson quit, but a number of key senior staffers bailed about the same time. The city attorney resigned and an assistant city manager retired. A new council member called for the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation board to quit. The interim city manager realigned downtown development operations and moved many of the AEDC functions into City Hall departments.

I guess the concern Miller needs to address is how he’s going to calm the occasionally stormy waters at City Hall. I take heart in the unanimous vote by the council, which hasn’t always spoken with a single voice since this council bunch took office in the spring of 2015. The manager needs to know he has council support for the big job that awaits him as he moves from San Marcos to Amarillo.

One more point about the council vote: I am glad that this council acted quickly, rather than waiting — as some have advocated — for the next election. The Amarillo Globe-News editorialized in favor of the council waiting until after the May 6 council election, apparently thinking that a potential wholesale turnover among council members could produce a set of councilors with vastly different priorities.

Nuts! The city charter empowers the current council to act.¬†It chose to move forward. Besides, with just a two-year gap between elections, there’s never a perfect time for an Amarillo City Council to make¬†such a¬†critical hiring decision.

Here we go. The new city manager has unanimous support among the folks who hired him. Let’s get busy, Mr. Manager.

Memo to council: let the city manager … manage!

Jared Miller is walking into either the job of his dreams or … of his worst nightmare.

Amarillo’s newly named city manager is inheriting a big job. I wish him all the very best as he takes administrative command of a $300 million annual budget and a payroll of more than 2,000 public servants.

They all work for us — you and me. So, in fact, do the five individuals who hired Miller to become the next city manager.

But here’s the deal: The City Council has been thought by some around the city to be a meddlesome bunch at times.

I spoke the other day to a former city staffer who left recently to take another job. The staffer and I were talking about the five finalists who were competing for the manager’s job. I got the question: “What do you think of them?” I responded I thought they all were fine candidates and that any one of them would do a good job as city manager.

“If they’ll let him manage,” came the response from my friend.

I have no personal knowledge of this, but I have heard the whispers, gripes and some chatter around Amarillo about alleged meddling by council members in staffers’ activities. If it’s true, it cannot continue.

Amarillo’s strong-manager form of government entrusts the city manager with tremendous administrative authority. He hires all the department heads: police and fire chiefs, assistant city¬†managers, city attorneys and so on. His job is to oversee every single aspect of¬†the city’s governing mechanism.

The manager also is obligated to follow policy set by the City Council.¬†Setting policy is where council members’ involvement ends, except to field concerns¬†from constituents they encounter at the grocery store, PTA meetings,¬†in houses of worship and perhaps across the back fence.

Then the proper reaction to those concerns would be to refer the complainer to the appropriate department head or perhaps to the city manager.

The new city manager is stepping into a post that has been the subject of considerable controversy since the May 2015 municipal election that brought us three new council members.

City Manager Jarrett Atkinson quit more than a year ago. The council hired an interim manager, Terry Childers, who promptly got entangled in a public relations nightmare of his own involving the emergency communications center; then he quit in late 2016 after calling a constituent a profane name.

City Hall hasn’t exactly been a peaceful and tranquil place.

This is the environment that awaits Jared Miller.

I¬†am confident the¬†new city manager will succeed … if¬†the City Council lets him do his job.