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Amarillo City Council discusses 'potential violation' by Cole Stanley, takes no action

Cole Stanley during Amarillo City Council meeting on April 25, 2023 (KVII)
Cole Stanley during Amarillo City Council meeting on April 25, 2023 (KVII)
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The Amarillo City Council has discussed a "potential violation" by Councilman Cole Stanley.

During Tuesday's council meeting, which was the last one before the election, the council talked about "conduct by a city councilmember as a potential violation of City of Amarillo Governance and Ends Policies, including City Council Member Responsibilities and City Council Member Code of Conduct."

The agenda did not specify which councilmember was the subject of the item, nor what conduct was being discussed.

During raucous public comments, multiple people expressed their support for Stanley, who is running for mayor, and criticized the council for having the discussion on the second day of early voting.

Stanley made a motion to table the discussion for two weeks after multiple comments from the public that proper notice was not given.

The motion failed 3-2.

Stanley’s attorney also objected to the discussion.

Stanley also asked who on the council had information about the agenda item.

City Manager Jared Miller said he did not.

Mayor Ginger Nelson said she had the information. She said the potential violation pertained to a comment made by Stanley.

She said after discussing the issue with Councilman Eddie Sauer, they decided the best way to handle it was addressing it during a council meeting.

Nelson then called for a 30-minute recess after chants from those in attendance.

After the meeting resumed, Nelson said concerns were raised about comments Stanley made during a mayoral debate on April 18.

When asked about the civic center lawsuit between Alex Fairley and the City, Stanley said “I would drop the lawsuit and I’d pay his fees,” according to Nelson.

The attorney fees are more than $426,000.

Stanley asked Nelson to outline all of the accusations so he could answer them.

Nelson said she may have more questions based on his answers.

"I am going to give you a response," said Stanley. "I am not interested in being involved in a discussion that started out illegal, not posted correctly to our public, comes on the heels of me being blindsided in public.”

Nelson said she wanted know:

Has Fairley donated to Stanley's campaign? If so, how much?

Did Fairley make that knowing Stanley would vote to repay to the $426,000?

Stanley said Fairley donated $40,000 in April and those details will be part of the campaign finance report due Friday.

But he said he told Fairley what he tells every campaign contributor -- “I will do everything for you that I will do for any other citizen.”

“My integrity and my ethics are not in question based on who donated to my campaign," Staley said before leaving council chambers.

Nelson told the rest of the council there were three ways to proceed:

Take no action

Consider resolution to censure any conduct violating city council policy

Consider opening an investigation (which drew boos from the crowd)

The other councilmembers declined to comment.

They took no action and moved on to the next agenda item.

City Council Member Responsibilities (including the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem):

1. Serve as a model of leadership and civility in our City.

  • Always demonstrate respect, kindness, consideration and courtesy to others.
  • Demonstrate prudent and ethical behavior in every action and statement.
  • Inspire public confidence in our City government.

2. Regularly attend City Council meetings.

  • Prepare in advance of City Council meetings and be familiar with agenda items and public issues.
  • Fully engage in listening and discussion at City Council meetings.

3. Represent the City at ceremonial functions at the request of the Mayor.

4. Participate in scheduled City Council or City activities to increase team effectiveness.

  • Serve on subcommittees, boards and commissions as a liaison and keep the City Council informed of such subcommittee, board or commission activities.

5. Provide information to the City Secretary as needed.

  • Keep current contact information that will be used in case an emergency situation rises.
  • Furnish financial and any other information that may be required on occasion.

City Council Member Code of Conduct

Amarillo City Council members will:

1. Be respectful, kind, considerate and courteous to all people at all times.

2. Conduct an independent and impartial review of all matters addressed by City Council.

  • In the need of an investigation under Article V Section 19 of the City Charter, a member shall first contact the Mayor to present valid information on the need for an investigation and request the item be placed on the City Council agenda for discussion and vote before proceeding with an investigation.

3. Support all decisions of the City Council although an individual member may be on the minority side of the outcome.

  • Work toward consensus on every issue.
  • Support and accurately represent the policies of the City when acting in their official capacity.
  • Present their individual opinion on an issue outside of City meetings if they explicitly state they do not represent the City Council or the City.

4. Adhere to the council-manager structure of government set out in the City Charter.

  • Not interfere with the administrative functions of the City or the City staff.
  • Not make requests of the City Manager or City staff that will require a major change in City policy, a substantial investment of time or City resources, or special handling of matter which might result in special favors or the appearance of partiality.
  • Not contact or visit City staff or departments without the advance knowledge of the City Manager or the appropriate Deputy or Assistant City Manager.
  • Not impair the ability of City staff to implement City Council policy decisions.
  • Refrain from using their position to influence the outcomes or deliberations of board and commission proceedings.
  • Direct information requests through the City Manager or the appropriate Deputy or Assistant City Manager and make such requests during normal business hours.

5. Refrain from making public comments, suggestions or demands concerning any City staff, operations or policy without first discussing the matter with the City Manager.

  • Check with City staff before sending correspondence to see if an official City response is in progress.
  • Never promise action or a result by the City Council or City staff on a specific issue.
  • Consult with the Office of Public Communications and Community Engagement before communicating with the media about any City issue or policy.
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6. Improve his or her governance ability by attending training annually.

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