ARC project receives support from AISD board president in meeting

It's another day, another


for the highly controversial proposed $38 million Amarillo Recreation Center (ARC).

The ARC is already a hot topic in Amarillo for voters who will cast their vote Nov. 5,but what happens when an elected official at an open board meeting pushes for the project before it goes to a vote.

Amarillo Independent School District (AISD) Board President, Jim Austin, said the ARC is fantastic opportunity for the city of Amarillo.

"I think it's great for the city, for the school district. It's great for the parents, and great for the kids." he said. "I applaud the ARC committee and the work they've done, the work the city has done to go hand-in-hand to bring it to fruition, and we look forward to being a participant."

According to the Texas Ethics Commission, "No matter how factual information about the purposes of a bond election is in a communication, *any* amount of advocacy is impermissible."

We also spoke with Amarillo Attorney Jeff Blackburn to get his take on the comment.

"It's easy to look at this and go, this isn't any big deal, I mean so what. They're just in support of this thing that a lot of people are in support of, but the problem, is that it's a very big deal," he said.

We reached out to AISD for comment and this is what the district said, "AISD has not taken any action on or endorsed the ARC. As Mr. Austin noted, his comments were his own opinion and were not that of the board. Mr. Austin, an uncompensated public official, doesn't abandon his first amendment rights at the board room door."

According to Blackburn who deals with government lawsuits often said, "I'm not going to say they have no right to discuss it, they do, but to just be cheerleaders for this big project -- that's really crossing the line because I think that's exercising a lot of undue influence on that issue."