Amarillo City Attorney resigns

Amarillo City Attorney resigns

Amarillo, TX - Amarillo City Attorney Marcus Norris voluntarily resigned Tuesday while others fight to keep their jobs.

The action followed the call for resignations of Amarillo City Manager Jarrett Atkinson and all five Amarillo Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) board members.

After providing legal council to city employees for 15 years, Norris said his integrity as a lawyer no longer matches with the city as a client. "We love Amarillo and when we came here 15 years ago, we came to a city with a stable and progressive government. Well, that changed with the last election."

Norris said he cannot go into specifics about what caused him to question his integrity. "We'll just let that ride for a little bit. It will become apparent. I'm still the attorney for the city. I have an ethical obligation and there are limits to what I can say. But simply to say, at this time, I choose not to provide further professional services to the city."

He turned in his two week notice Monday morning just before a nearly four hour joint meeting between the AEDC board and the city council. The meeting was announced last Thursday.

It was supposed to be an opportunity for the board members to find out why council member Randy Burkett asked them to resign, but Burkett did not attend.

Council member Mark Nair was also absent due to previous commitments.

"It's disappointing because I think a lot was accomplished as far as information and communication is concerned and I hate that they missed that," said Ginger Nelson, an AEDC board member.

Nelson did say Nair asked to meet with her later this week to discuss the board since he could not make it to the meeting.

Elisha Demerson was the only new council member to attend. He requested an audit of the board and said the meeting was a start in his quest for transparency and openness. "I think there is more to be done," said Demerson. "It was the beginning of the discussion and I think that's important, but I think there is more information that I require."

The meeting was dominated by public comments, mostly praising the AEDC for their work and criticizing the new council members who did not show up -- a criticism Mayor Paul Harpole shares.

"I know they have concerns," said Harpole. "But the fact that they weren't here today, I'm sorry that these views of impassioned people in the public fell on, well, not their ears."

He said he is still shocked how everything has unraveled. "Now we're left with a wonderful city attorney who feels he needs to put in his resignation."

He added that he is also concerned by how the resignation of Deputy City Manager Vicki Covey was handled. Last week, Burkett told NewsChannel 10 he asked for and received her resignation, But Harpole said that is not true. "It's either a breach of the city charter or a lie that he forced Vicki Covey's resignation. That is simply not true. Vicki Covey worked here for 41 years and she retired of her own accord without any threats from him or anything else."

He encourages the public to attend Tuesday's city council meeting, where the fate of City Manager Jarrett Atkinson and the AEDC board members will be discussed.

"It's time to stand up, speak up or shut up. It's time to do something," said Harpole.

We reached out to Randy Burkett for comment, but he has not responded to our calls or emails as of Monday night.

The Amarillo City Council meeting is Tuesday at 5:30.

Madison Alewel - NewsChannel 10