Leave it to the Amarillo City Council to mess up a chance to move things in the right direction.
On Tuesday, the Amarillo City Council made appointments to a number of boards and commissions, completing most appointments and leaving some others tabled. We have requested a full list and that it is currently in the works, but at least one board is notable, even without the list complied.
Councilmembers made three appointments to the Animal Management & Welfare Advisory Board on Tuesday, appointing three individuals. According to animal advocates in attendance, Charles Sanchez, Cullin Knutson and Eddy Sauer were appointed to the board. Outside of these three individuals, no other appointments were made to the committee.
These particular appointments are concerning. For the record, I have never met Mr. Sanchez, although I have met and spoken to the two other appointees. They seem to be nice enough gentlemen, but I’m not sure they were the best appointees possible, considering the recent events that have taken place at Animal Management & Welfare.
From the deaths of G7 and Gordy, to the absolute lack of accountability at Animal Management & Welfare, do we as citizens really believe a councilmember is the proper appointee to this important commission? After all, Dr. Sauer’s tenure on the City Council has come directly in the midst of the deaths of both of these animals and during the City’s refusal to admit responsibility for the death of G7. Even though the dog was euthanized while it was in labor and, apparently, did not bite anyone, Sauer has sat on the City Council’s dais week after week as city manager Jared Miller and others have deflected responsibility for these actions. This alone should disqualify Sauer from serving on this board.
I do know for a fact several animal rescue volunteers and advocates were applicants for this board, including William Kearns of KARTS. I have a hard time understanding why animal volunteers were passed up for this board, especially at a time when the transparency of Animal Management & Welfare has been called into question.
It is also strange to me the City Council’s decision to appoint a councilmember to this board. As far as I know, there has never been a councilmember serving on this board in a voting or non-voting capacity. As the City Council has never shown any desire to clean up or take responsibility for the issues at Animal Management & Welfare, I have no idea what good appointing a councilmember would do for the incumbents. With certain committees like the Local Government Corporation, which often has the last say on downtown issues, there is a reason for having a councilmember in a voting capacity. But, on Animal Management & Welfare? This board makes policy recommendations, not final decisions.
I am not aware of what Sauer’s official capacity on the board will be, but it does concern me that if he is a voting member, he will be casting a vote to recommend policy to himself. This does not make sense to me, as former councilmembers who were heavily involved in animal organizations did not even serve on this board during their tenure. Why Sauer was appointed to this board is beyond me. Perhaps he just wanted to pad his resume ahead of what is sure to be a hellish re-election campaign, but even then, I wouldn’t want to take responsibility for some of the actions taken at Animal Management & Welfare over the past year.
While I do not serve on the City Council, I can tell you I would not have voted to approve this set of appointments. These three seats should have gone to animal advocates. If they had, it could have been a step in the right direction for the City Council to mend fences with people who have lost faith in their ability to properly oversee Animal Management & Welfare.
Amarillo deserves better.
-Thomas Warren III, Editor-in-Chief