Sunday, April 23, 2006

Hear ACLU grill candidates on Prop 1 and city issues

The ACLU will host a candidate forum Monday night, 6:30 to 8:30 so our members can query the candidates about their positions on Prop 1, and ask other questions relevant to individual liberty in Austin. Everyone is invited to attend!

Where: Cafe Caffeine, 909 W. Mary
When: 6:30 for mingling, and 7 pm to start the first panel of candidates.

For the ACLU, Prop 1 does something critically important for Austin--it opens records about police misconduct. That's why it is a major priority of ACLU's Central Texas chapter. It takes the entire community working together to counter the powerful forces responsible for the system we have today. We may not get the opportunity to make these positive changes again in our lifetime!

The ACLU worked for years to implement civilian oversight of police, but the system negotiated in secret meetings between the city and the cops is toothless and gagged. Members of the civilian review board cannot even talk to the public about what they learn without facing criminal penalties. That's absurd. Why create civilian oversight if the civilians are prohibited from telling the community what's wrong with the system! This super secret oversight process--with sealed misconduct records that even victims cannot peak into--was designed to fail, and it has failed.

Proposition 1 gives the public a voice in the design of the civilian oversight system by opening the now-secret negotiations to the public and requiring the city to STOP maintaining police misconduct records in sealed files.

With police misconduct information available under a public information act request, victims' families can learn exactly what happened to their sons and daughters, and you can learn why a handful of problem officers continue to divide our police force from the community it serves. Finally, our civilian oversight board will be able to analyze the problems it sees and bring real solutions forward to the Council and the citizens.

The City had the opportunity to do this on its own four years ago. We begged them, and the ACLU stood side by side with many other organizations to protest the secret process and the final, overpriced agreement. But we were told this was all the Austin Police Association would agree to...and the city can't do anything without their agreement.

It's time to end the stranglehold the Police Association has on this community. They work for us! Good behavior on the job is not an option. Its a mandate, and one that can finally be enforced if Proposition 1 passes. Its time for a change. And our city officials have made it very clear that they won't implement this change on their own.


At 7:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why don't any of these candidates besides Jennifer Gale and a couple college students support these amendments?

At 6:58 AM, Blogger Gritsforbreakfast said...

I don't know that that's true. Come to the event and ask them.

At 10:16 AM, Blogger JS Hatcher said...

I'd also like to point out that Danny Thomas, two term council member, current Mayor Pro Tem, and current candidate for Mayor, supports Prop 1. He voted against the City's second round of misleading ballot language and has continued to express support for open government.

At 11:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So we're supposed to vote for Danny Thomas? He's also the only councilmember OPPOSING Amendment 6 and he SUPPORTED the Gay Marriage ban.

He's hardly a standard bearer for progressive causes.

At 12:11 PM, Blogger JS Hatcher said...

You are supposed to make your own decisions about candidates. This blog doesn't make any endorsements on candidates nor tell people how to vote on open seats.

What it does do is try to make clear the issues surrounding the Open Government Online amendment. The debate tonight is for the public to find out about the issues. Someone asked about the candidates that support this amendment, and Danny Thomas is a candidate that publicly supports this amendment. His position on other issues is part of what you, as a voter, must balance in the ballot box -- just like any other election.

At 12:47 PM, Blogger Gritsforbreakfast said...

Bottom line is, whether you're liberal or conservative: Insiders and people who make their living cutting deals at City Hall dislike open government, while outsiders and average voters of all stripes love the idea. That Thomas, running as an outsider candidate against Mayor Wynn who is an icon of closed government, likes the amendment is welcome but unsurprising - it fits into the whole dynamic of how this issue has played out. Insiders of all stripes don't want public scrutiny. With the council dominated by liberals, conservatives may have just as much reason to spport open government as "progressives," though everyone benefits.


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