It seems pretty clear that the City of Amarillo has had a major transparency and accountability problem for a long time. The issue is certainly not something that has sprouted over the past two years; a lack of accountability has plagued City Hall for many of the past City Councils. However, one potentially good move was announced today.
On Wednesday, the City of Amarillo announced it would be launching “Open Spaces,” a new City-run blog site. A small informational video was released at the same time as the announcement, which includes very little information about what information the blog will include. Nevertheless, I am hopeful this could be a good tool for transparency’s sake downtown.
If the City chooses to use the blog to inform residents on municipal services or news updates from City Hall, I think it would be an excellent purpose served. If the City chooses to use the blog to respond to political criticisms, though, it would be a big mistake and an improper use of tax dollars. Of course, this is all just speculation, as we are just now getting our first glimpses at what this program may or may not include.
The City of Canyon still has a blog site live that has been mostly inactive since last October. When the site was active, it seemed to be a nice bulletin board for municipal reports and services. I would encourage the City of Amarillo to consider adopting this model when looking at the blog format.
I am hopeful this new blog program will be beneficial for Amarillo taxpayers. Hopefully, if the City utilizes this blog in the right way, it could go a long way toward fixing the transparency problem in the big building on Buchanan Street.
-Thomas Warren III, Editor-in-Chief