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Outgoing Austin City Manager Threatens to Preemptively Nullify Police Oversight

by on February 14, 2023

At 9am this Wednesday, February 15, the Austin City Council will hold a special session beginning with an agenda item to approve “a resolution concerning bargaining for a meet and confer labor contract with the Austin Police Association.”

This agenda item determines, among other things, whether the city’s next contract with the Austin Police Association will be in effect for one year (if it passes) or four years (if it fails). In isolation, the duration of a police union contract would be a mere detail in city administration, but in the context of potential changes to the oversight, the recently-negotiated four year contract could undermine meaningful change by deferring the effective dates of any new police oversight statutes until a subsequent election cycle.

The negotiations for the new police union contract concluded shortly before reports that city manager Spencer Cronk was to be forced out due to unrelated matters of job performance, but after details emerged pinpointing the Austin Police Association as the primary source of funding for the second “Austin Police Oversight Act.”

If you’re confused, you’re not alone.

Last summer, Equity Action successfully collected enough signatures for an “Austin Police Oversight Act,” which would, among other provisions, prevent contract negotiations between the City of Austin and the Austin Police Association from contravening any portion of the oversight act.

Shortly thereafter, a political action committee called “Voters for Oversight and Police Accountability” circulated a petition for a competing act with the same name and significantly different goals. Many Austin voters (myself included) signed the petition for the second ballot measure, thinking they were supporting the earlier ballot measure.

As news comes to light that the second act may be the police attempting to oversee themselves, a four-year contract would be a convenient fallback that gives ample time for an election after the May 6 special election (with both ballot measures) to repeal the “wrong” act.

Austin residents seeking to testify for or against the reversion to a one-year contract should register before noon Tuesday February 14, or in-person at the City Hall before 8:15am on Wednesday, February 15.

The text of the Equity Action “Austin Police Oversight Act,” is available from the Equity Action website.

The text of the Voters for Oversight and Police Accountability “Austin Police Oversight Act,” is available from the KXAN website.

From → Local

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