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Opening statements held in Amarillo Civic Center lawsuit


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AMARILLO, Texas (KVII) - After months of back and forth between Alex Fairly and the City of Amarillo, a trial began Tuesday to determine if the city will be able to use anticipation notes to fund the Civic Center Expansion and Renovation Project.

The trial kicked off with opening arguments from the legal teams for the City of Amarillo, and Amarillo businessman Alex Fairly. Additionally, the Texas Attorney General’s Office provided an overview of the litigation.

City of Amarillo Opening Statements

Paul Trahan, attorney for the city of Amarillo presented the city’s statements first, telling the courtroom, “My presentation is not sexy, because the details of the case are not sexy. The case is very straightforward.”

Through the use of a PowerPoint, Trahan continued forward with the city’s statement. He began his presentation by talking about what they think the case is not about, highlighting personalities, Prop A and politics.

READ MORE: Petition to block Amarillo Civic Center project will not go to council, says secretary

Trahan then listed the factors he thinks the case is about: Ordinance 7985, the Texas Open Meetings Act and Chapter 1431.

Trahan said that the City’s utilization of Chapter 1431 of Government Code to authorize the issuance of tax and anticipation notes to fund the project was standard procedure. He believes there is no doubt that the issuance of the debt meets the standard to be qualified as “public works.”

Trahan then addressed the allegations that the city violated the Texas Open Meetings Act. He claims the city “clearly met the standard” for Open Meeting Act requirements, presenting evidence to support his belief that the city gave a timely notice for the May 24th City Council meeting, which clearly illustrated the meeting's agenda and what was up for discussion and vote.

Fairly Opening Statements

T. Lynn Walden, attorney for Fairly's legal team, also utilized a PowerPoint to illustrate Fairly’s legal statements.

He began by saying he believed the city “used the wrong tool for the wrong purpose in the wrong way.”

That statement is in reference to their dispute about the city’s utilization of Chapter 1431 of the government code. Additionally, he said they do not believe the Civic Center could be legally categorized as a public works project.

RELATED: Judge denies City of Amarillo's petition for $6m bond against Fairly's Civic Center suit

In the allegations of a violation of the Texas Open Meeting Act, Fairly’s team made claims that there were “secret and deliberative meetings behind the scenes to avoid voter approval.” In addition, they stated that the agenda that was released before the May 24th meeting was misleading.

Walden concluded his opening statement by saying “It’s time for the city to start over on this Civic Center project.”

Notably, at the conclusion of opening statements, Alyssa Bixby-Lawson, the representative from the Texas Attorney General’s Office, said in reference to the issuance of anticipation notes, “Something just does not feel right here. It does not feel to be in the spirit of the law.”

Throughout the hearing, both sides introduced evidence and made arguments for their respective case.

RELATED: Fairly holds press conference to discuss Civic Center lawsuit

Today's trial also consisted of testimony from several fact witnesses, comprised of various city officials.

MORE: Mayor Nelson touts benefits of Civic Center project amid lawsuit

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EDITOR'S UPDATE: Testimony continued Wednesday followed by closing arguments. The judge expects a ruling to be made within the next 10 days.

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