AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The legal teams for both Amarillo Businessman Alex Fairly and the city of Amarillo continue to go back and forth surrounding what content should be covered in the depositions through the ongoing Civic Center litigation in Potter County District Court, along with what documents and material should be included in the litigation’s discovery process.
According to previous reports by MyHighPlains.com, members of the city of Amarillo’s staff, Amarillo City Council members, along with a community member, were deposed earlier this month in the ongoing lawsuit process. This comes after Fairly sued the city of Amarillo in late May over the city’s decision to use $260,525,000 in anticipation notes to fund the expansion and renovation of the Amarillo Civic Center Complex. The city then filed its own lawsuit, asking a Potter County Judge to validate the use of the notes.
The following people were expected to complete depositions in this case:
- Cole Stanley, Amarillo City Council member;
- Stephanie Coggins, Amarillo’s City Secretary;
- Freda Powell, Amarillo City Council member;
- Ginger Nelson, Amarillo Mayor;
- Eddy Sauer, Amarillo City Council member;
- Howard Smith, Amarillo City Council Member;
- Jared Miller, Amarillo City Manager;
- Laura Storrs, Amarillo Assistant City Manager, both individually and as the city’s designee;
- Jason Herrick, member of the city’s Civic Center community group and president of Amarillo Matters.
In a set of documents filed on Aug. 23 in Potter County, the city of Amarillo’s legal team continues to question some of the materials that Fairly’s team aimed at covering within the depositions. The team claims the scope of some of the information sought during the depositions remains outside the scope of the overall lawsuit, containing “the same irrelevant, overbroad and otherwise improper topics,” as previous requests.
The documents listed a series of topics that the city of Amarillo’s legal team believes fall outside the scope of Judge William Sowder’s original discovery order. According to the documents, those topics include:
- “The meaning of the text of the reference to Ordinance 7985 as it appeared on the agenda of the May 24, 2022, Regular Meeting of the City Council;”
- “All plans considered by the City for refinancing the notes, including all means, sources and securities considered for such refinancing;”
- “The terms considered for refinancing the notes, including all means, sources and securities considered for such refinancing;”
- “All representations or assurances provided by any entity regarding the availability of future refinancing of the notes purportedly authorized by Ordinance 7985;”
- “The calculation of tax rates necessary to pay the notes as refinanced, if refinanced, at any time prior to maturity;”
- “All communications involving any agent or representative of the City and Frost Bank prior to the May 24 meeting regarding Frost Bank’s consideration of the proposal for Frost;”
- “The City’s position regarding the difference between anticipation notes issued under Chapter 1431 of the Government Code and Combination Tax and Revenue Notes;”
- “The reason(s) the City did not give notice, in advance of the meeting of May 24, 2022, that it would consider the imposition of an ad valorem tax to pay the notes considered for issuance in proposed Ordinance 7985;”
- “If the City contends it gave notice in advance of the meeting of May 24, 2022, that it would consider hte imposition of an ad valorem tax to pay the notes that were the subject of proposed Ordinance 7985, then all facts, documents and records supporting that contention;”
- “The basis for the City’s contention that it imposed the ad valorem tax for any future year in which payments are to be made under the terms of the notes purportedly authorized by Ordinance 7985.”
The city’s legal team also stressed their objection to any document requests which extend beyond the documents specifically listed in Sowder’s discovery order, an order filed in July.
In documents filed on Aug. 24, Fairly’s legal team doubled down, continuing to claim that the city of Amarillo has “utterly failed to provide the documents required,” in Sowder’s discovery order. The documents claim that in early August that the city “made a very limited production of documents” available, but the documents provided “was deficient, however, in several respects.
“Fairly has requested the City supplement its production numerous times, yet the City has failed to even acknowledge the request,” the documents read.
“…The City continues to be opaque relating to its rushed effort to push Ordinance 7985 through an approval process as quickly and as quietly as possible, withholding important information from its taxpaying citizens,” Fairly’s legal team continued in the footnotes.
During a portion of the depositions that occurred, Fairly’s legal team also claimed that documents were identified through the line of conversation with the deponents that the team did not have access to. Some of the documents Fairly’s legal team featured as ones that were identified through the depositions were:
- “Jared Miller’s calendar entries showing meetings with City Council members from May 17 through May 23, 2022;”
- “Garfield or P3 Committee PowerPoint (or like) presentation from the P3 Committee meeting with Garfield (referenced in Ms. Storrs’s testimony);”
- “Mayor Nelson’s notes of meetings with the P3 committee or her subcommittee with Howard Smith relating to the Civic Center project and the financing thereof;”
- “The property tax impact pro formas or projection calculation documents relating to the tax notes which Ms. Storrs mentioned having before the May 24 meeting (work notes and spreadsheets);”
- “City Council member Freda Powell’s file related to Ordinance 7985 and anticipation notes which includes numerous annotations;”
- “Eddy Sauer’s emails to council members and/or staff (referenced in his deposition).”
Fairly’s legal team also claimed that during the depositions, the deponents were instructed by counsel to not answer various questions. The documents said that Fairly’s team aims to file a motion to “compel answers to these questions once he has received the deposition transcripts.”
“The City is in clear violation of the Court’s Order,” the documents read. “The documents identified above and additional documents identified by the Deponents clearly fall within the scope of discovery…. Upon information and belief, the City may be withholding additional responsive documents not specifically identified by the Deponents.”
In the documents, Fairly’s team claims that it is the city of Amarillo’s legal team’s responsibility to comply with the court’s order, something which they claim the city has not done.
MyHighPlains.com has reached out to the legal teams for both the city of Amarillo and for Fairly to obtain copies of the transcripts from the depositions. Officials from the city of Amarillo’s communications office said that the transcripts “are not available at this time” and “it is not known when they will be available.” Officials from Fairly’s legal team have not returned the request for comment.
The trial for this case continues to be scheduled for 9 a.m. Oct. 4 in Potter County District Court.