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As more people move to Austin, we cannot pull back on this investment. If anything, we need to work harder to maintain the expectation our community has when it comes to public safety. If Austin residents expect to maintain the quality of life we have come to enjoy, we must ensure that the pace of city growth is matched with a continued commitment to recruitment and retention of the highest quality of law enforcement officers. It is of the utmost importance that our city leaders continue to invest in the Austin Police Department and the community we value. Austin is recognized as one of the most challenging cities in the state to be a police officer. Considering that the city has explosive growth and hosts festivals, conventions and large events that bring millions of visitors annually, our officers do more than their colleagues in other parts of Texas. They deserve to be compensated fairly for not just addressing crime but also preventing it. It is important our community understands that the pool of people willing to pursue careers in law enforcement is small — and the top talent pool is even smaller. If we do not incentivize top officer applicants, they will go to other cities and communities. It is not breaking news that the cost of living in Austin has increased dramatically, resulting in our emergency services personnel moving beyond the city limits or to other communities. To remain competitive and to compensate for an ever-increasing cost of living, we must continue to provide investment in public safety and maintain a standard cost-of-living salary increase for those who put their lives in danger. It calls for annual salary increases of 1. The savings it creates will enable the city to further enact the property tax homestead exemption or spend more on health and human services. It can do that even while hiring more than officers over the next five years. As one of the most scrutinized police forces in the country, the transparency negotiated in our proposed contract also is unprecedented. The civilian oversight the association has agreed to gives the community unfettered access to investigations into officer complaints. Everyone wants the same thing — good cops and a safe city. Previous Austin City Councils have invested in safety — and we see the results in our quality of life. This commentary was signed by the following: He will also never work for the Austin Police Department again. He was originally called to an apartment complex in the block of East Yager Lane on Feb. Spotting the teen in the street, Freeman exited his patrol car and drew his gun. After giving him commands to stop, Freeman fired two shots at Joseph who was running towards him. Freeman was scheduled for an arbitration hearing this upcoming Monday and was hoping to get his job back. Sources tell KXAN News the settlement may not have happened had the mayor not cited the shooting as an example during his news conference on the creation of a task force to address institutional racism across the city video http: He would never step in on either side. He would never be so bold as to create a commission and give an example of a pending case. Doing so, he said, has new ramifications for cases across the state of Texas. How he was trained. Instead of having to explain to the community that his police academy trained Officer Freeman to do what he did, he took the easy way out. Freeman not to return to the Department in any capacity as a police officer for the city of Austin. The settlement achieves those goals and provides finality to at least one part of a very unfortunate, difficult and sad situation. Nothing we do now will bring David Joseph back to his parents, family or community. We need to learn from what happened so we can avoid similar incidents in the future, and this settlement helps move us forward as a city. The suit claims the city has not trained officers on using other methods that are not deadly force, they have not addressed an under-staffing issue and the police are discriminating against minorities. What springs to mind? Probably not the swagger and sprawl of Dallas. Its streets hum with supersize cars and its skyline bristles with cranes. Its mayor is a former chief executive of Pizza Hut. Hundreds of multinational corporations have chosen Dallas for their headquarters, most recently Jacobs Engineering, which is moving to low-tax Texas from pricey Pasadena, Calif. What set off the run was a recommendation in July that the retirees no longer be allowed to take out big blocks of money. Elected officials promised workers solid pensions years ago, on the basis of wishful thinking rather than realistic expectations. Nothing would be left for fighting endemic poverty south of the Trinity River, for public libraries, or for giving current police officers and firefighters a raise. Rawlings, a Democrat, said in testimony this month to the Texas Pension Review Board, whose seven members are appointed by Texas governors, all Republicans for the last 20 years. But that does not change the awful numbers. The city is expected to call for an overhaul in December. But it has no power to make the changes, because the fund is controlled by state lawmakers in Austin. The Texas Legislature convenes only every other year, and Dallas is preparing to ask the state for help when the next session starts in January. One state senator, John Whitmire, stopped by the pension building this month and urged the 12 trustees to join the city in asking Austin to scale back their plan. But in fact, the fuse was lit back in , when state lawmakers sweetened police and firefighter pensions beyond the wildest dreams of the typical Dallas resident. They added individual savings accounts, paying 8. The goal was to keep seasoned veterans on the force longer. It would all work as long as the payroll grew by 5 percent every year — which it did not — and if the pension fund earned 9 percent annually on its investments. Back in Dallas, the pension trustees set about trying to capture the 9 percent annual investment returns. They opted for splashy and exotic land deals — villas in Hawaii, a luxury resort in Napa County, Calif. The projects called for frequent on-site inspections by the trustees and their plan administrator, Richard Tettamant. The Dallas Morning News reported that officials were spending millions on global investment tours, with stop-offs in places like Zurich and Pisa, Italy. Pension officials argued that their travel was appropriate and their investments were successes. Museum Tower, a luxury condominium high rise. It went up across the street from the Nasher Sculpture Center, a collection housed in a Renzo Piano building surrounded by manicured gardens. The Nasher, opened in , was integral to a city campaign to revitalize its downtown. Tettamant became the general manager. Piano had installed a filtered glass roof, designed to bathe the masterpieces in soft, natural light. The glare from the tower ruined the effect, killed plants in the garden and threatened to damage the sculptures. The center called on the pension fund to reduce the glare. Tettamant said nothing could be done and suggested the center change its roof. Rawlings, the mayor, brought in a former official of the George W. Bush administration, Tom Luce, for confidential mediation. Luce resigned after five months, saying Mr. Some retirees began to clamor for a criminal investigation. The mayor demanded a full audit. When the audit was done, it showed that the investments were indeed overvalued, and that the fund was in deep trouble. Tettamant, who was dismissed in , said he believed he was being blamed for problems he did not cause. The board made all the investment decisions, and I was not a board member. A spokesman for CDK declined to discuss the raid, but said the firm was working to resolve its differences with the pension fund. In his meeting with the trustees, Senator Whitmire recalled that in he had voted enthusiastically for the plan that sent the pension fund on its ill-fated quest for 9 percent investment returns. Millennials who are now moving up career ladders and earning higher incomes make up the biggest portion of the taxable workforce now and will represent 75 percent of it by when the tailend of the Boomer generation is entering retirement. That means retiring participants in the system could get only 74 cents on every dollar in promised benefits. With the exceptions of Texas, Virginia and Arizona, all of these tottering government pension systems are in traditionally liberal deep-blue states with the strong public employee unions. An estimated 10, new Baby Boomer retirees begin drawing benefits every day, a trend that will continue for many years. Millions of these new retirees are leaving jobs with state governments, local school systems and municipal police and fire workforces. Most of the pension systems in the top 25 most generous already have hundreds of thousands of participants drawing benefits. The Texas system, for example, currently has more than , participants and dependents and its numbers will swell in the near future. Booming pension benefit obligations can become major factors in municipal bankruptcies. Detroit officials, for example, faced stiff opposition in from local public employees when the city had to make major spending cuts, including across the board 6. Even with reduced benefits for current and future retirees, however, state and local taxpayers are in many jurisdictions legally obligated to make up the difference between assets and promised benefits, which can result in steeply higher levies. Forty six of the systems graded by TIA were percent funded or more. Ever since Acevedo took over the reins of the Austin Police Department in , he has not shied away from the public face of the role—the positive and not so positive. He is also known for not being afraid to get his hands dirty in the field, making arrests on occasion. Politically, he has been an outspoken critic of policies to deport people in the US illegally and testified against a Texas law allowing guns to be carried on college campuses. Twice Acevedo faced disciplinary action from his boss, the city manager. One time came in and again when he was reprimanded and docked pay for speaking to cadets about an ongoing investigation into the officer-involved shooting of an unarmed youth after the city manager told him not to. Also this year, Acevedo announced the closure of the city police crime lab after it became known workers were using dated investigative techniques, throwing into question the integrity of some cases. Acevedo also caught flak after controversial arrests his officers made like one this year involving a woman thrown to the ground. Chief Acevedo has made our community safer and closer, and he is trusted and much loved by so many. Losing Art Acevedo is a huge deal, and replacing him will be a daunting task in part because he gave so much of himself to his job and his community. In April , the bilingual, career lawman with family ties to Cuba, Acevedo interviewed for a position with the U. Immigration and Customs Enforcement before withdrawing his name from the candidacy. Acevedo was also one of six candidates for the police chief position in Dallas in
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