Prop A

Prop A will be decided today by a small minority of Austinites, though the number will be much larger than the 11 that got us into this mess to begin with.

Prop A, as everyone probably knows by now, forces the city to maintain at least two police officers per 1,000 residents. This measure was brought on by the monumental efforts of Matt Mackowiak and Save Austin Now, the same people that forced Prop B, the homeless camping ban, back in May of this year.

We are all in this, with Mackowiak, et al, at the tip of the spear, in response to the city’s defunding and lack of general support for Austin’s police officers. Since the defunding occurred last year, Austin has lost tremendous amounts of officers due to attrition - retirement, early retirement, and out right quitting. And who can blame them, when the people that pay their salary seem to never have their back, blame them for things that aren’t occurring, and demonize them to the media and citizens?

A lot of interesting things have occurred since Prop A officially made it to the ballot for today’s election. Mayor Adler, Greg Casar, and the activists at No Way Prop A, a part of Equity PAC, continue to claim that it will be too expensive and they’ll have to cut services like Fire, EMS, parks and libraries, and more, or raise your taxes, which is something they’ve never balked at in the past. Never do they mention the Equity Department, or the massive amounts of homeless spending, of course. Because they want you afraid that if they are forced to hire more police officers, then you won’t get other services which your life could depend on.

Does your life depend on the Equity Department or the homeless programs? Of course not. So the threat is that your life is less important than their agenda. They are telling you that they would rather force equity quotas upon you over your house burning down. That’s their priority, and they’re not hiding it.

So the question becomes, will they actually follow through on these threats? The most likely answer is no, at least not when it comes to cutting other departments. Councilwoman Mackenzie Kelly is right when she describes the premise as absurd.

And they don’t need to follow through to afford Prop A, as the department has been refunded, thanks to Governor Abbott and the State Legislature, so the money is there, plus $10 million. The problem lies with the council approving cadet classes. Something they will not do unless the reimagined curriculum, which the current class has the honor of being the first subjects of, passes their standards, whatever they may be. Never mind that we will have no way of actually knowing how well the new curriculum is going until the graduated officers are actually out on the job for some amount of time.

Prop A forces their hand. They will have to approve the cadet classes regardless of how the “reimagining” is going. Should Prop A fail, they’ll be emboldened to reimagine for years, delaying classes as they see fit, all while APD continues to shrink.

In all likelihood there will be some increased costs, but the city’s estimates are most certainly far too high. Maybe they’ll try punishing us by trying to meet those estimates, but there’s not much we can do about that outside of voting these people out in favor of more fiscally responsible candidates that might actually want to be good stewards of our money.

And before I move on, I want to clarify, unequivocally, that I want Prop A to pass. I don’t know that the 2/1000 is necessarily the right ratio - maybe it is, maybe it’s not, but the ratio we have now is unacceptable. And I actually agree with Adler when he says that he hopes for a day when we don’t need police officers. It’s utopian, for sure, and maybe one day we’ll get to that point, but it won’t be for a long time as many societal and cultural shifts must occur first, and Adler isn’t the man to lead us there. The alternative, which is a gutted, hamstrung, reimagined APD, will be much worse.

We rely on, through taxes and laws, our police officers to do many things. Generally, we can’t afford private security. So as imperfect as our police department might be, it’s something that we are forced to pay for, so we should demand that it’s properly staffed.

Prop A needs to pass if for no other reason, Mayor Adler, Greg Casar, and all the others need another spanking. They need to be taught that they can’t be so extreme, placing the burdens and costs upon all of us, in the future. We, as Austinites, need to see if they will follow through on their threats of cutting other essential services instead of their pet projects. Austin needs to see who these people really are. If all they try to do is raise our taxes, they can’t go above 3.5% without a city wide vote, and they will probably do that anyway. So it’s just about the threats of cuts. I say, “bring it on.”

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