Members of the Amarillo City Council are considering approving an issue that should have never even made it to this point.
During Tuesday's City Council meeting, members of the City Council will consider approving a tax increment reinvestment zone reimbursement agreement with two entities controlled by Prana Gp, Prana Development Group. Members of the City Council should not even be considering the agreement, due to conflicts.
Mayor Ginger Nelson, and her husband, Kevin, are business partners with Alan Rhodes and Joe Bob McCartt, in a certain business endeavor. Rhodes and McCartt are both managers of Prana and would directly benefit from the TIRZ agreement. Therefore, Nelson should not vote on the project. If Nelson, votes on the project, it could be a conflict of interest for the mayor.
However, Mayor Nelson is not the only member of the City Council tied to McCartt and Rhodes. Council member Freda Powell accepted a direct contribution from Joe Bob McCartt during the 2017 City Council election and should also be disqualified from voting on the agreement.
All five members of the City Council were also supported by Amarillo Matters, a political action committee involved in the 2017 election. The committee spent generously to elect the five members of the Council and ran advertisements in the mail supporting the five members of the Council and maligning the opponents of four candidates.
McCartt's company, McCartt & Associates, gave money to Amarillo Matters. Alan Rhodes and his wife also personally gave money to Amarillo Matters.
Because all five members of the City Council benefited from Rhodes' and McCartt's spending, no member of the City Council should vote on the issue. While the ties to Amarillo Matters may not be direct between Rhodes, McCartt, and the members of the Council, it should definitely raise ethical concerns.
Council members should not approve, or even consider, the agreement. Council members should do the right thing and step away from the agreement before it sets a dangerous precedent for the future.
-Thomas Warren III, Editor-In-Chief