Save Austin Now sues City over ballot item language for proposed police funding ordinance

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Save Austin Now, the public action committee working to increase policing in the city, has filed a lawsuit, challenging the City of Austin’s language on the ballot item the group petitioned to put on the November ballot.

The PAC filed the suit with both the 3rd Court of Appeals and the Texas Supreme Court, calling the ballot language Austin City Council passed “deceitful.”

The city’s ballot language reads should the ordinance be approved, it would cost up to $598.8 million over five years, in addition requiring the City employ at least two police officers per 1,000 residents at all time.

“No, it will not mandate $600 million in expenditures for the Austin Police Department….,” said lead counsel for Save Austin Now PAC Bill Aleshire, who called the ballot language a tactic to mislead voters about the petitioned ordinance.

Last week, Austin’s chief financial officer, Ed Van Eenoo, laid out in a memo how much the initiative would be estimated to cost the city, if passed.

Aleshire says additionally, the ballot language left out several progressive elements of the proposed ordinance, including:

  • Helping diversify the police force to be reflective of the ethnicity and gender of the people of Austin
  • Prizing officers who are multi-lingual in non-English languages spoken in neighborhoods they patrol and rewarding officers who earn honorable conduct citation
  • Setting standards for representative community policing
  • Requiring the mayor/council and key staff who oversee APD to attend the Citizen’s Police Academy and the Ride-Along Program to better understand policing in Austin

“For many years the Austin City Council has conspired to use their ballot language power to both ignore the City Charter requiring that captioned language be adopted and instead pass their own biased language to affect voters,” wrote Save Austin Now PAC co-founders Matt Mackowiak and Cleo Petricek in a statement.

Their statement went on to say: “In April, we sued on the Prop B ballot language and won at the Texas Supreme Court. We humbly expect a similar result here.”

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