“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into”

Jonathan Swift
"The Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital." - Bill Maher
"The city is crowded my friends are away and I'm on my own
It's too hot to handle so I gotta get up and go

It's a cruel ... cruel summer"

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Honorable Ethics

The following is posted at the request of Erik V. Williams, former commissioner candidate:

On July 12, 2007, I wrote to Mayor Debra McCartt and the city commissioners to find out what they might have to say about John Kanelis’ “smell test” regarding conflicts of interest and how it might relate to Amarillo’s elected officials. I here present the letter addressed to them and all responses received.

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To The Honorable Debra McCartt, Mayor of the City of Amarillo; The Honorable Madison Scott; The Honorable Brian Eades; The Honorable Ron Boyd and The Honorable Jim Simms, City Commissioners.

In his Sunday editorial “'Legal' and 'right' don't always match” (Amarillo Globe-News, July 1, 2007) The Principled John Kanelis took the Honorable Joe Kirkwood to task for failing to absent himself from certain votes made in his capacity as Potter County Commissioner. While John Kanelis acknowledged these votes were “legally correct” it was his contention these votes benefited the commissioner and that Joe Kirkwood therefore should have recused himself.

We can only applaud The Principled John Kanelis for his stand and agree that our elected officials should maintain a high standard of ethics. A conflict of interest beyond the legal definition, one that does not pass “the smell test” invoked by John Kanelis, should oblige an elected official to absent him or herself so as to remain above reproach.

Strangely the Amarillo Globe-News seems unprepared to hold the mayor and city commissioners to the same high standard as Mr. Kirkwood. With “the smell test” one might discover a conflict of interest in a city official’s direct or indirect ownership of property or control of downtown investments and the benefits of voting on downtown revitalization. Though posed the question the Amarillo Globe-News remains silent on whether it would suggest the mayor or any of the commissioners should recuse themselves were they to be in such a situation.

One can only speculate as to the publisher’s motivation for failing to uphold the ethics of the Honorable Mayor and City Commissioners, especially those whom the Amarillo Globe-News has so readily endorsed. I will therefore ask you to address, where the Amarillo Globe-News has not, whether the principle invoked by John Kanelis should be applied to Amarillo’s mayor and city commissioners.

Thank you.


Erik V. Williams
Former unwelcome guest columnist and Commissioner Candidate

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July 13, 2007


I haven’t heard from you, so I thought I would respond the best I can. I agree, as do all the commissioners, that when we have a “conflict of interest” item to vote on, that interested party will abstain. As far as downtown is concerned, I feel certain that if we vote on something that someone owns or has financial interest in, then that commissioner will abstain.

Thank you for the question. (not sure why you would think we would do otherwise)

Debra McCartt

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July 21, 2007

I am all over your email.

First, I want you to know that just because it is "legal" does not mean it is moral". Just because attorneys and legislators got together and made a law does not mean it is moral.

We need to always hold ourselves up to be both legal and moral. Your email is duly noted and I thank you for your reminder that I need to always watch what I am doing.

Madison Scott

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I would like to thank Mayor Debra McCartt and Commissioner Scott for their timely responses and affirming they will hold themselves to the highest ethical standards.