By Michael King
In an extraordinary display of public solidarity last Thursday, several hundred Austin firefighters and their supporters showed up at the City Council meeting to view the deliberations over the proposed U.S. Department of Justice consent decree, which would govern the hiring of new cadets. There were enough people on hand and registered for a potential five hours of witness testimony, although a sidebar agreement whittled that down to about an hour. An overwhelming majority of the witnesses, led by Bob Nicks, president of the Austin Firefighters Association, testified against accepting the decree, which nevertheless was eventually approved by Council, 5-2. If the decree is indeed imposed by a federal court, the DOJ will assume overall responsibility for AFD hiring for the next four to eight years.