Although we are disappointed with the Council and their vote last Thursday to approve the DOJ consent decree, this outcome was not unexpected. The city manager went to great lengths to frame this as a “race” issue. Council, likely fearful of how their vote may be perceived, took the safe route by voting in support of a consent decree. With this vote, the current Council has essentially abdicated their responsibility on this issue and the AFA is now left to protect the rightful interests of both the citizens and firefighters.
On a more positive note, it was an epic night and the most gratifying day I have experienced since being elected President of the Austin Firefighters Association. 300 firefighters stood in unity against the Austin City Manager’s office and Fire Chief’s attempt to encourage the DOJ to obtain a consent decree on the best hiring process in AFD history. We stood up for the principled stance that a hiring process that selects future firefighters needs to be meritorious while being fair and inclusive to all.
If you would like to watch the City Council proceedings from this agenda item, please watch using the following link, scrolling down to agenda item 10, parts 1 and 2.
This is one of the first times we were able to make our case to the public and the information from the presentation is compelling.
You can also view the latest news coverage here:
In addition to the 300 firefighters in attendance I wish to thank the AFA members and community leaders that spoke before Council on our behalf. These community leaders came from all walks of life and stood in strong support of our cause. A special big thanks goes out to the prospective 10-1 candidates running for council stood in support of Austin Firefighters. Many of them stood before council and voiced their opposition of the consent decree. Many of these courageous community leaders WILL be our future council members. Thank you to San Antonio Firefighter Association President Chris Steele for his outstanding support and message before Council (you can see Steele’s statement in the Council video). Last but certainly not least, a big thanks to Mike Martinez and Chris Riley who were the only two Council members that stood for us and voted NO. They did a great job of trying to demonstrate to other Council members that a yes vote was the wrong way to go.
Unfortunately, at the end of the night the feckless City Council was frightened by the city attorney’s "chicken little the sky is falling” speech and Council voted to move the consent decree forward with a 5:2 vote. This outcome was not unexpected and we have planned for this.
I could not have been prouder of our Austin Firefighters than I was on Thursday. 300 strong standing in unity, as evidenced by the photos below. I thank each and every one of our supporters for the principled stand you made with us last week!
Photos courtesy of Travis Sellers, River City Photography