By Crystal Nelson
In general, the basic purpose of a City Council is to provide the citizens with representation in their local government. What does representation mean? It means to stand or act in the place of, as a substitute, proxy, or agent. The city of Amarillo has a population around 200,000. It might be suggested that it is virtually impossible for nearly a quarter of a million people to ever come to a unanimous decision on any topic. However, the current city council, like many before it, continually casts unanimous votes on almost every item that comes before it.
For example, dozens of citizens have repeatedly pled with the council to end the criminalization of homelessness, and yet the council unwaveringly stands behind their unconstitutional ordinances. Multiple people have spoken against the new trash collection plan, citing rational reasons why the plan is illogical for the harsh environment in which we live. Yet the ordinance passed, you guessed it, unanimously. Not to mention the illegal passage of the ballpark plan, right under everyone’s nose under the guise of a non-binding referendum. Or the installation of parking meters downtown, which, as it has been pointed out, has been a historical failure in Amarillo in the past. And it is well-known that history repeats itself.
Over the past couple of months, the Regular City Council Meeting times have been moved repeatedly. Initially, the meeting was moved to 7:00 am under the pretense that it would somehow make it easier for working parents to attend. As all members of the council are parents themselves, there were many who felt that the council clearly knows better, and therefore this was an obvious publicity stunt. After much backlash, the council then moved the Regular Meetings to Noon, with the work session starting at 1:00 pm. At the same time, they also discontinued recording the meeting sessions. With so much turmoil and so little transparency surrounding the weekly City Council meetings, many citizens feel that the changes are just a series of thinly veiled tactics to silence opposition and possibly shroud covert agendas.
Recently, the Mayor has boasted about Amarillo gaining attention with the National media. While this is true, the attention has primarily been in a negative light. For example, numerous news articles have run, on several different platforms, voicing concern over the recent changes to the City Council meetings. Dozens of articles were published when the Mayor had a local man thrown out and arrested for clapping during the public commentary portion of the council meeting. The illegal building of the ballpark, the criminalization of homelessness, and the objectionable actions of the Animal Management and Welfare Department have all garnered attention with state and even national media outlets. And these are just to name a few topics.
We all want to believe that we have a local government who cares about the wishes of the people. However, this council has proven time and time again that this is not the case. The engaged citizens of Amarillo see that, when it comes to the city council and city managers, their actions speak louder than their words. They see that the wishes of the common citizen have fallen on deaf ears with this council, just as they did with those that came before. They see that decisions are made regardless of the concern of numerous residents that show up every week only to be disregarded by their elected officials. More citizens than ever are beginning to awaken to the realization of the tyranny existent in our government.
When this council, as well as previous councils, regularly and unanimously acts contrary to the will of the constituents it was sworn to represent, does this sound like effective representation? The current council believes that those who speak up against these atrocities every week are troublemakers and continually attempt to silence them. But they are the real embodiment of the American spirit. They are what this great country was founded upon, trouble makers who were unafraid to shake things up with the current administration. Informed, proactive members of a republican society are exactly what it will take to enact real change.
The citizens of Amarillo, the bread and butter of this city, are ready for real representation. We are ready for elected officials that take their job seriously as Civil Servants. Had the Sons of Liberty not fought for representation, our country would not be what it is today. And like the Sons of Liberty, the people of Amarillo must also fight for the city that we love so dearly. The citizens of Amarillo must remain informed and engaged and must demand real representation.