Tag Archives: Oklahoma City

Welcome aboard, Mr. Manager


Let’s call it the “u-word.”

It stands for “unanimity,” and it symbolizes — one can hope — that Amarillo’s sometimes-fractious City Council has come to the collective conclusion that it’s time to speak with one voice.

The council voted unanimously Tuesday to appoint former Oklahoma City Manager Terry Childers as the interim chief executive for Amarillo.

Oklahoma City’s website sings the gentleman’s praises, which is no surprise. It does contain an interesting feature in describing Childers’ tenure as Oklahoma City manager: It speaks to his reorganizational skills and his push — get ready for this — to “beautify and strengthen” the city.

Childers succeeds Jarrett Atkinson as Amarillo city manager; I’ll have more on Atkinson in a moment. He comes to a city that in recent months has become politically frayed. A once-harmonious governing body has been punching itself in the face since the May municipal election over disagreements regarding its own downtown revival — and beautification — efforts, its senior administration and, that’s right, the performance of the city manager.

Is Childers — who grew up in Abilene — the man who can restore unity to City Hall? Is he capable of working some of the magic he brought to his job in that big ol’ city to our east? The OKC website notes: “From the moment he stepped into office, Childers stressed the importance of beautifying Oklahoma City, not only improve quality of life for residents, but to increase citizens’ respect for their hometown.”

Well, all five councilmen have bought into Terry Childers’ credentials. They are unanimous in their decision. My hope in our city’s future has been restored … at least for the time being.


Childers’ emphasis on beautification and government efficiency is noted on the OKC website. It doesn’t mention “water management,” which is one of the strengths that Jarrett Atkinson brought to the job when he became Amarillo city manager five years ago.

There can be no more precious resource than water. Under Atkinson’s tenure at City Hall, the city has helped secure its future through the purchase of water rights that will quench our municipal thirst well into the next century, and perhaps for the one after that.

He served the city well, first as an assistant city manager under Alan Taylor’s wing and then as the head man.

I’m sorry to see him leave public service.

The city has continued to function well and it has continued to meet the needs of those of whose tax money finances this $200 million-a-year operation.

As for Childers, time will tell if he’s the right man for the permanent job, should he choose to seek it.

On this first day of his new job, though, the city manager at least enjoys the unanimity of support from the folks who have hired him that his predecessor didn’t enjoy.


Ballpark … or no ballpark?

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the debate over whether to put a ballpark near the heart of downtown Amarillo.

It’s called the multipurpose event venue. MPEV, for short.

It’ll be up for a key decision on Nov. 3. The city will ask voters if they want the MPEV to include the ballpark. If they say “no,” the ballpark won’t be built; a “yes” vote, of course, means what it says.

I believe the ballpark is a good deal. It can be a potentially great deal if we use our imagination, employ some creativity and relearn how we can enjoy the downtown district.

I keep hearing numbers about the cost of the MPEV. It’ll be around $32 million. The city plans to issue bonds to pay for it. It plans to retire those bonds with hotel-motel tax revenue and lease payments from the tenant who agrees to run the place. Bill Gilliland and Laura Street, a pair of big-hitter fundraisers, told the City Council they have received pledges totaling around $2 million from private contributors; there might be more in the wings.

Amarillo’s political/business/civic brain trust isn’t reinventing the wheel with this downtown ballpark concept. Cities all across the country — big cities and mid-sized cities, just like Amarillo — have enjoyed varying degrees of success with downtown ballparks.

There’s nothing particularly original or groundbreaking in the city’s effort to revive its downtown district.

Now, for the record, I’m not going to suggest that Amarillo can copy cities such as Oklahoma City in developing a downtown ballpark. The OKC project was paid for with a public tax levied specifically to raise money for the construction of that city’s ballpark in its Bricktown district. And I am acutely aware that OKC is a much larger city.

If we step back, though, we need to understand that no one with a lick of sense is suggesting that Amarillo’s downtown project can function on the same level as the one in OKC. It can, though, function nicely at its own level.

The MPEV as it’s been presented does represent a step forward for the city and presents a fascinating opportunity for the city to progress to some next, and perhaps largely still undefined, level.

Indeed, this project requires a leap of faith. I am prepared to take that leap.

Rant, but no rave, about state highway system

The following is a “rant” posted by a friend of mine on a social media outlet.

It goes like this:

Forgive me, but I need to rant for a minute. After driving through almost every state towing a camper over the last eight years, I can say without a doubt that the state of Oklahoma has the worst highway maintenance in the country. … Oklahoma has the audacity to charge tolls on many of these terrible roads and makes you stop and actually pay for these tolls rather than just taking a picture of your license and billing you later. Come on, Oklahoma, you can do better!
Rant over. Thank you for your time and attention.

I want to single out a particular point that deserves an endorsement from yours truly.

It’s the point about having to “stop and actually pay for these tolls rather than just taking a picture of your license and billing you later.”

My wife and I ventured to Oklahoma City a few months for an evening concert and to spend the night before returning home. The concert venue was along a toll road near Edmond. We’ve been spoiled by the Texas toll roads we use when we travel to the Dallas area to visit our granddaughter … and her parents.

We just zip past the cameras posted over the President George Bush Turnpike. It snaps a picture of the license plate of our vehicle and about two weeks later, we get a bill for using the highway. We send the North Texas Transit Authority a check. No fuss at all.

In Oklahoma City, we had to scramble for change when we saw signage warning us of a toll booth ahead. Some of the booths were manned, others were not, meaning we occasionally needed exact change to be let through to the next toll both.


The sooner we got out of Oklahoma — pun intended, by the way — the better.

Goodness lives in the 'next generation'

The next time you hear someone complain about “kids today,” remind them of the young man shown in the video attached to this blog.

He’s an Oklahoma youngster who sought to write a wrong committed by one of his parents.

The young man sought out an elderly woman and offered what only can be called an apology to end all apologies.

Your heart will soar when you see this.

Trust me. It will.

Terrorists come in domestic forms, too

Americans have been focused intently since 9/11 on the dangers of foreign-born terrorists, or those who were born here but then renounced our country to take up arms against us.

We’ve managed to eradicate many of them. Others remain in the fight and we need to hunt them down, too.

Terror, though, can visit us at any moment, and it come from any source. Even home-grown, corn-fed, garden-variety Americans who have a particularly evil streak in their heart can bring untold sorrow and fear to their fellow Americans.

Remember the name Timothy McVeigh?

He decided 20 years ago — on April 19, 1995 — to blow up a federal office building in Oklahoma City. He killed 167 innocent people, including more than a dozen children who were enrolled in a day-care center at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

Children died at the hands of this monster.

Two decades ago Sunday, McVeigh parked a rental truck in front of the building, walked away and then listen to the blast that tore the front of the building away. He fled in a car, only to be captured by a sharp-eyed police officer several miles away.

Why the Murrah building? Why in Oklahoma City, in the nation’s heartland? McVeigh sympathies with the Branch Davidian cult members who died two years to the day prior in Waco. He wanted revenge against the federal agents that destroyed the cult’s compound.

McVeigh was tried in a Denver federal courtroom and convicted of murder. He then was executed for his crime.

He’s gone. Not forgotten.

The loved ones of those who died or who were injured seriously remember him. They loathe his memory. Heck, even those of us who only heard or read about the act loathe this terrorist.

This blog post I guess is just an excuse for me to vent my continuing rage at those Americans who would commit such evil acts. They are every bit as despicable as the foreigners with whom we are fighting. There are times when I wish that our military could use the same brute force on the homegrown terrorists as it does while waging war overseas.

Then my sense of citizenship kicks in, remembering that we must protect the civil liberties of all citizens, even those who spit in our faces by committing these heinous atrocities.

Timothy McVeigh received the ultimate punishment for his act of terror against his country. It was delivered by a justice system that we sometimes think is flawed. Maybe it is at some level.

However, it wasn’t on the day that McVeigh was convicted and sentenced for committing the most heinous act of domestic terrorism in our nation’s history.

So, as we look out there for those who would do us harm, let’s not forget to look over our shoulder and be vigilant against our fellow Americans who harbor hatred that goes beyond our understanding.


Let the trial begin for Tsarnaev

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s trial has begun.

In Boston.

Where it needs to occur.

The man accused of setting off the bomb at the end of the 2013 Boston Marathon had sought a change of venue. His lawyers contended he couldn’t get a fair trail in Boston, where everyone it seems knows something or someone associated with the horrific attack that killed three people and injured dozens more.

Look at the Timothy McVeigh bombing case, they said, noting that McVeigh — who blew up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995 — was tried in Denver, Colo. The Justice Department moved the case out of OKC because everyone there had an opinion on the tragedy.

Well, the Denver jury convicted McVeigh and then the federal government executed him.


There would be zero point in moving the trial out of Boston to some other location. The entire world knew of the bombing. Indeed, the Boston Marathon is an international event that draws competitors — and their entourages — from throughout the world.

The other point has been the plea-bargain deal. There had been negotiations for Tsarnaev to plead guilty to the crime and avoiding the death penalty. Although I oppose capital punishment on principle, I want this trial to proceed. I want to hear the evidence. I want to hear testimony.

Most of all I want Tsarnaev to explain precisely who was pictured in those security videos leaving a bag carrying a bomb near the finish line of the big race. If it wasn’t him and his brother — who died trying to escape — then who in the hell was it?

Tsarnaev innocence is presumed. His guilt will need to be determined. I feel comfortable in knowing that the federal judicial system will convict this individual.

Let it be in Boston, where he can look his victims — allegedly — in the eye.


Puppy Tales, Part 9

Update: I’ve been scolded, gently, by my daughter-in-law and now my son. They’ve reminded me that Toby the Dog’s actual “first road trip” was to their house in Allen about, oh, two months ago.

Mea culpa: My memory isn’t too good some times. Perhaps it was the hotel stay and the brief moment of anxiety that the dog exhibited that blocked my memory of the earlier trip.

I stand corrected.


You may choose to believe this or not. It doesn’t matter to me. A few followers of this blog have asked me about Toby the Dog.

I now have some news to report. It’s no biggie.

Toby has just completed his first road trip. He did beautifully.

He’s about seven, maybe eight months old. The only vehicle travel he’d done was around Amarillo. Well, we just returned from a quick overnighter to Oklahoma City.

We left Friday afternoon and returned Saturday afternoon. We blazed east on Interstate 40, checked into our hotel room, then left for the evening to attend a gospel concert. He travels beautifully in the car. He sleeps most of the time and isn’t interested generally in sticking his head out of the window and having the wind blow in his face.

What did we do with the dog once we got to the hotel? We brought his kennel. We put him inside. He yapped, whined and whimpered when we left the room. We stopped briefly at the front desk and asked the check-in clerk: “OK, we’re leaving for a few hours and we left our dog inside our room, in his kennel. Is anyone checked into either of the adjoining rooms?” She said someone was in one of the rooms. “Will they hear the dog? He’s upset that we’re leaving.” She said if they complain, she’ll just tell them we’re out for the evening and that we’ll return … and that the dog will settle down.

My wife told the clerk that she thinks he’ll “settle down quickly once he realizes what’s going on.”

We left for the evening and returned about 10:30 p.m. We asked the clerk as we walked in, “Any problems, any complaints?” She said, “I didn’t hear a thing and no one said a word.”


So, there you have it.

Toby the Dog passed his first major test away from home.

We’ve advised him there’ll be many more trips like this coming up. We think he’ll be ready.

Guns and booze

Jeff Swanson is going to require the baddest bouncer on Earth when he starts serving alcohol at the gun range he operates in Oklahoma.

Swanson operates the Wilshire Gun Range, which recently received permission from the Oklahoma City Council to serve alcohol on the premises.


Someone needs to explain this one to me.

He’ll be serving alcohol, but once someone buys the beverage, they’ll be disallowed from going onto the firing range itself.

Guns and alcohol don’t mix, Swanson said. True enough.

The council vote as 6-3. One of the “no” votes came from Larry McAtee, who said, “Alcohol is legal and guns are legal. I have a problem with mixing the two.”

Still, Swanson said anyone who orders a drink will have his or her driver’s license scanned, it will be flagged and the individual will be disallowed from going to where they’re firing weapons.

The proprietor had better hire people with the sharpest eyes and ears possible to enforce the rules at his gun range. This decision makes me nervous.