The grapevine has it that Marcus Norris, Amarillo’s City Attorney, has given his 2 week’s notice as of July 6, 2015? Is this true? Could be, and if so does this suggest that more turnover is headed for the top echelon at City Hall? Recently Vicki Covey, Amarillo’s Deputy City Manager, was asked to resign. And as we all know, new councilman Mark Nair has called for the resignation of City Manager, Jarrett Atkinson. Do we need to “clean house” at City Hall?
The recent election that “swept out” councilwomen Ellen Robertson Green and Lilia Escajada, and sweep in an all male city council for Amarillo may have signaled that things are “a changing” in Amarillo, but don’t bet on it. Amarillo is still a “big” little town that caters to special interest groups who are calling the shots. Downtown revitalization is just one aspect of who controls Amarillo. When I say “control Amarillo” I mean what policies are being “forged ahead” or “advanced” and who will benefit economically. Who stands to make big bucks off the downtown revitalizations project?
As you know the group 791City was formed to address the sole issue of illegal tire dumping all over Amarillo. Did our efforts meet with success? In a word ‘No.” Did the City of Amarillo offer to help resolve the problem by allowing an amnesty day to take scrap tires to the city landfill for free rather than $4.75 a tire? In a word, No.” Did the City of Amarillo offer to help transport tires after one citizen asked for thousands of tires to help her with a project? In a word, “No.” Did the City of Amarillo even consider the reams of documents and research sent to top brass to establish a program to deal with the illegal tire dumping problem– including being hand delivered to the City Attorney, City Manager, Community Relations, Health Department, and each city council member? In a word, “No.” Did the City of Amarillo even consider reviewing current lax code and legal enforcement to stop illegal tire dumping? In a word, “No.” Now juxtapose the response to 791City’s efforts to address the ring of blight within 2 miles of City Hall to how the city reinvigorated efforts to forge ahead with downtown revitalization. Within the past two weeks there have been marathon meetings to keep downtown revitalization “on track” but not one ounce of concern for the blight and decay within a stone’s throw of all that “fancy new stuff” that the “vested few” want “ to do” for Amarillo. But there is more to consider. The Amarillo Globe News has been aware of the 791City’s efforts re clean up of scrap tires for weeks—yet within hours of the sudden appearance of a rag-tag group called “advance Amarillo” the Globe News put their faces and homemade signs on the front page. The Amarillo Globe News then went out of its way to solicit negative so-called citizen comments regarding Mark Nair’s call for the City Manager to resign. I wonder why the Globe News is so blatantly biased in favor of “doings” at City Hall?
Amarillo is the 14th largest city in Texas. No other city in Texas has the same type of demographic underrepresentation in its workforce as Amarillo. I’ve already given you the numbers. Our of 512 city of Amarillo employees earning more than $60,000, 407 are white males, 44 are white females, 6 are African American males, zero are African American females, 42 are Hispanic males, 8 are Hispanic females. The City of Amarillo’s police department has 357 employees, 283 are white males, 19 are white females, 6 are African American males, zero African American females. Amarillo fire department has 252 employees, 233 are white males, 15 Hispanic males, 1 African American male, zero Hispanic females, zero African American females. I’ve said it before and I will say it again. These numbers are shocking—but even worse they represent a city, the 14th largest in Texas, that is engaging in racism and sexism. But, this is Amarillo. This is a town that wants to “revitalize downtown” as a way of becoming a “progressive city.” This is a town that wants to “advance Amarillo” with brick and mortar at the expense of taxpayers but at the same time use taxpayer dollars, including my dollars, to hire a workforce that does not begin to represent the demographics of this town. It is shameful. But it is a shame that lies at the feet of the top brass at City Hall, namely the City Manager and the City Attorney. The City Attorney, Marcus Norris, is well aware of the workforce statistics mentioned above. I know because he personally sent me the data with a note claiming regret that the information “fell through the cracks” in being sent to me. As I have said before, the City Manager and the City Attorney together earn around $422,000 a year. Yet not one black female works for the city of Amarillo earning over $60,000. The City of Amarillo’s workforce represents at city attitude problem. It represents a mindset that is no different than the Confederate flag controversy. It is long standing heritage about who gets hired, who gets promoted and who gets the big bucks. If Amarillo wants to “advance” itself it needs to make this town more representative of its taxpaying citizenry and the racial demographics. If Amarillo wants to revitalize itself it needs to focus on human capital and not brick and mortar ballparks and hotels. If Amarillo wants to revitalize and advance it needs to look at the neighborhood revitalization. Why should black children leave Amarillo to make a decent living? Why should black children look at Amarillo’s city hall and not see themselves or any possibility of working there? If Marcus Norris is resigning then good because he has been part of the top echelon decision making that has helped Amarillo to remain backward in so many ways. But another head should be on the chopping block and that is Jarrett Atkinson.
Copyright 2015 – L. Arthalia Cravin. All rights Reserved. No part of this commentary may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.