By Trent Rosser
Soap box time again. It has taken me a bit to write this due the extreme nature. I call it extreme nature because it is something that you only see happen back in the old west or on TV. The City has resorted to intimidation tactics. I am not a conspiracy theorist and never have been. What has happened I thought, at first, was just a coincidence. But now, I’m not so sure. I did not want to write something that I thought could be wrong. I still could be wrong, but if I am, the coincidences are unprecedented.
Let’s start with what was discussed this past Tuesday at the City Council meeting. They are wanting to change the meeting time from 5 P.M. to 7 A.M. They said that way the City employees could attend and not get paid overtime plus people could get their kids dropped off before they come and still make it to work by 8 A.M. First, lets tackle the issue about dropping kids off first. I do not know any schools that open that early. You will need to drop the kids off at school by 6:30 in the morning and they will have to wait nearly 2 more hours before school starts? So, this would be better…. How? What about the City employees that will not be paid overtime. First of all, no one I know gets paid to go to the City Council meeting. Why would the City employees not get paid overtime to attend a meeting in the morning, but would if they attend a meeting in the afternoon? I was an employee for the City of Canyon many years ago, not once did I get paid to attend a City Commission meeting.
Now here where it starts to get strange. A few weeks ago, I spoke at the City Council meeting. I was adamant about City Council wanting to lower the speaking time for each speaker during the public comment portion. I disagree from dropping the time limit from 3 minutes each to 2 minutes. I believe that the 3-minute time limit is perfect, no more, no less. I brought up the point that the public comment used to let everyone that wanted to speak could. Unfortunately, there is now a time limit. 30 minutes total. Now, lets do some math: Mayor Nelson claims that there are over 190,000 citizens in Amarillo. I agree with that, but only allowing 10 people to speak a week adds up to 520 people a year that can comment. That is only 0.27 percent of Amarillo's citizens. I understand that sometimes it does not even take 30 minutes. And sometimes it will take longer. Mayor Nelson platformed during her election that she wants to hear from the citizens, but she has constantly tried to do away with the public comment portion of the public meetings. Like I told her and the rest of the council when I spoke, “This is not listening to the public.”
When I was done talking I started to walk away when the Mayor addressed the public and said that you can always e-mail and call. This is where things changed. I had been calling City Hall trying to talk to someone since the fallout on the homeless situation back in February, so I turned around and walked right back to the podium and told her so. She tried to stop me, but I still had time left. Apparently, this was the wrong thing to say and do.
Here is what has happened the last few months. My mother is disabled and is just now able to get out of bed and walk to the kitchen. Believe me, this is a miracle. My step father is also a senior and cannot do the things that he used to be able to do. One of those things that they cannot do is take care of the yard. It is mainly dead grass due to no water. They have a guy that helps them with the mowing and he is a great person for not charging them a lot. He knows the struggles that they are going through. Now, I will admit, there was a few weeds in the front and a few weeds in the back that became a little high. The City of Amarillo sent them a letter stating that they will be back to mow and will charge them. I went over there to look at it myself and was dumbfounded that they received that kind of letter. Especially since there was only a few weeds. I pulled the weeds and the mowing guy came the following Tuesday. That same day, they received a new letter. Two of their trees need to be trimmed due to being over the sidewalk. The city will be back and charge them to trim them. The trees have been that way for over 10 years and now, suddenly, they are a hazard to the community? We ended up trimming the trees. The evergreens now look like a Christmas tree that was burned on one side.
Here is the final point. I admit I became behind on my water bill. They sent me a disconnect notice and I paid it the day after the disconnect was due. I paid the bill and was caught up. A few days later, I received a new bill. It was due on the 2nd of this month and just 3 business days later, they send another disconnect. I have no issue of paying the bill, after all, the bill itself is true and correct and I do owe it. But when I pay this bill, will they read the meter and just send another disconnect and not a bill at all? I know that this sound petty, but I found out that I am not the only one. A couple has filed a lawsuit against the City and during their depositions, there was intimidation by police officers. The officers were just doing what they were told to do by “Higher ups.”
Bullying has been around for decades. We teach our children that bullying, and intimidation is wrong and to tell someone if you feel you are being bullied. Yet it is hypocrites that preach this and then turn around and bully people that they do not agree with. City Hall has fallen short on the “practice what you preach.”
Remember, even if you feel like it is a one-sided fight, always stand up to what you believe in. No matter who it is against. After all, you have to stand for something, or you will fall for anything! I really like to think that I’m wrong on all this, and I could be. After all, Elvis was spotted again in Utah!