When Mayor Ginger Nelson ran for mayor in 2017, voters were promised a City Council that would increase public engagement. It looks like hopes of increased engagement have completely faded away.
This week, the Amarillo City Council will vote on whether or not to approve the purchase of plastic trash carts at a cost of over $250,000. At the same time, Councilmembers will consider whether or not to approve a program to put those carts into use in certain areas of Amarillo.
The plan has been an extremely controversial one. Many people are not supportive of trading out their dumpsters for plastic carts. This has not stopped the City of Amarillo though, as excuses continue to be spouted about why the carts are the best things since sliced bread. However, while the City continues to put on its dog and pony show about the carts, many residents have continued to express displeasure over the plan, with many pleading with the City Council to stop approval of the plan.
Then, in typical City of Amarillo fashion, the time for the Amarillo City Council meeting was changed this week to 3pm for the work session and regular meeting, instead of the normal 5pm.
I have stated in prior articles that the City Council has done everything possible to avoid dealing with residents who are unhappy on certain issues. The City of Amarillo did this when controversy arose over the City's decision to euthanize a pregnant dog. Moving the time of the meeting or even cancelling public comment for certain meetings have been ways utilized by this City Council to avoid public comment.
Simply put, the City of Amarillo does not care to hear what the residents of Amarillo want to talk about. This should be evident from everything we have seen time and time again from the City. This is not just something that started under this City Council, but something that has been happening for decades under the culture of government. In most every case, government never listens to the people and instead places the blame on anybody else. This happens all the way from the local level up to the federal government. It is the culture of government to always avoid responsibility.
The Amarillo City Council, in the eyes of this writer, is avoiding responsibility and public anger on the trash issue. However, this has been a common thing at City Hall. When someone was arrested for clapping in a meeting, public comment was cancelled the next week. When a pregnant dog was euthanized while in labor, creating a national media storm, the Mayor skipped the meeting.
Here's an idea: how about instead of skipping meetings, cutting public comment or changing meeting times, the City Council should do the job of elected officials and engage with the public. But, this is not the directive of the special interest groups, so that will never happen.
As I have said many times, we cannot force Mayor Nelson and the City Council to make good on campaign promises. However, if they won't do their jobs now and deliver on campaign promises, I bet I can find five good people to take their spots come election time.
-Thomas Warren III, Editor-in-Chief