Subject: A Time for Change

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Dear Neighbors,

Over the last week I have listened to hundreds of Austinites share how racism negatively impacts their lives and their experiences with law enforcement. Their pain is real and not what Austin aspires to be. As a community we have many difficult conversations and decisions ahead of us in the coming days, weeks and months, and I appreciate the time and care that each of you has put into the thoughts you’ve shared with me and the rest of Council. Together I believe we can create a community that is fair and just; where every Austinite can feel safe.

I want to recount what the Council did last week. Council did NOT vote to allocate new money to the Austin Police Department. Thursday’s item 7 allowed City staff to apply for and accept grant funding from the Texas Motor Vehicle Crime Prevention Authority, a grant that the City has received for over 20 years to implement strategies to reduce auto thefts and recover stolen vehicles.

The Austin Police Department’s budget was NOT increased by Thursday’s vote. The reality is that rejecting this grant would lead to nearly half a million dollars in additional, previously unallocated funds going to that APD program. This would leave us with less money to work with as we move into discussions and proposals about how to better prioritize public health outcomes.

Here’s why: Without approval of this item, the existing auto-theft program could only continue with money from new funding sources. Furthermore, the “so-called” city matching funds to receive this grant do not come from new or additional funds. This match comes from money already set aside in the FY20 budget (approved September 2019), not from new sources.

I am gravely concerned about what we observed over the weekend of May 30. I condemn violence and racial bias wherever we see it. I am committed to move forward with decisive action to update our policies on what kind of use of force is acceptable (8 Can’t Wait Initiative) and to scrutinize carefully how we budget to ensure that every dollar is being used as effectively as possible to keep everyone in our community safe.

I have led on police reform since I joined council. In 2019, I worked with survivors of sexual assault to initiate major institutional reform in the police department’s Sex Crimes Unit. I authored a resolution to hire an independent third-party to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of APD’s treatment of sexual assault reports. The evaluation will ultimately result in concrete reforms that will better ensure that survivors receive justice and healing.

In 2018, I led a group of my fellow council members to reform the police contract. We significantly increased transparency, instituted new accountability mechanisms such as anonymous complaints, and created the new Office of Police Oversight. Ultimately, the 2018 contract saved the City almost $40 million which we have been investing in other city priorities such as public health. The contract that we eventually approved after months of agitation was supported by local criminal justice advocates and is regarded by many as the most progressive police contract in the nation.

As a Council, we have been working to eliminate systemic racism from our justice system. Nonetheless, it is clear we still have a long road ahead of us if we want to reimagine what public safety means in Austin. Thank you for joining us in the fight against injustice. 


Alison Alter

Council Member, District 10
Table of Contents
  • Council Protest Briefing and Questions to APD
  • Work Session COVID-19 Briefing
  • Public Comment for Thursday’s Council Meeting
  • ICYMI: Justice and Equity in Austin in a Time of National Crisis
  • District 10 Budget Town Hall Recap
  • Library and Parks & Recreation Re-Opening Updates
  • City of Austin Council Redistricting – Volunteers Needed
Council Protest Briefing and Questions to APD

On Friday, Council had the opportunity to hear from City Manager Spencer Cronk, Assistant City Manager Rey Arellano, Office of Police Oversight Director Farah Muscadin, Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday, and EMS Analyst Ernest Rodriguez.

You can watch Friday’s entire discussion here.

Each council member had an opportunity after the briefings to ask questions. I first asked Director Muscadin for clarity on the number of complaints against APD her office is processing, as well as what the investigations will look like. I also asked the City Manager to ensure that the Office of Police Oversight has the resources they need to do their work effectively. I then engaged in a longer discussion with Chief Manley. Our conversation included questions about the need for a culture change in the police department, the timing and nature of APD’s investigation of the severe injuries caused by “less lethal” rounds during the protests, his ideas for implementing needed reforms while still being supportive of our public safety staff, and more. My final question was directed to Assistant City Manager Rey Arellano about his actions, his role, and lessons he’s learned related to implementing Council-enacted policies to improve our police department. I encourage you to watch my line of questioning here.
Work Session COVID-19 Briefing

During last Tuesday’s work session, Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Health Authority for the City of Austin and Travis County, updated City Council on the COVID-19 pandemic. His presentation is linked here, and included data related to positive cases and hospitalizations, as well as information on the nursing home testing initiative and its findings. 

Additionally, Dr. Escott presented information on the prevalence of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and hypertension within Travis County and the disproportionately higher rates of disease among communities of color. Dr. Escott also shared how proactive treatment of these conditions would improve the overall health of the community and reduce risks associated with COVID-19. 
Public Comment for Thursday’s Council Meeting

Council will be taking public comment at Thursday’s council meeting (agenda available here). The deadline to register to speak is on Wednesday at NOON. Please follow this link for instructions on how to register to testify

ICYMI: Justice and Equity in Austin in a Time of National Crisis

Last Wednesday, I joined Mayor Adler, Council Member Harper-Madison, and LBJ School professors Peniel Joseph and Jeremi Suri for a community conversation on Justice and Equity in Austin in a Time of National Crisis. We were joined by hundreds of Austinites, who took part in a Q&A session on how we move forward in making our city truly just and equitable. You may view the panel discussion here or by clicking the photo above.

District 10 Budget Town Hall Recap

Also on Wednesday, I hosted the District 10 virtual budget town hall with Deputy Chief Financial Officer Ed Van Eenoo, who presented how the budget process works and how the City anticipates shaping this year’s budgets in response to COVID-19. The presentation was followed by a Q&A session with D10 constituents. Thank you to everyone who was able to attend. You may view the town hall here.

I encourage everyone to visit to learn more about the budget process and to take the City’s budget survey outlining your priorities to city staff. You may also direct questions to If you’d like to explore the current budget, visit Open Budget ATX. There you’ll be able to drill down into a department of interest and view its revenues and expenditures.

To further engage with my office on specific budget questions and comments, please email your input to Please note that we are rescheduling the District 10 budget office hours in anticipation that Thursday’s council meeting might continue the next day. A new date will be announced shortly.

Library and Parks & Recreation Re-Opening Updates

Starting June 8, Austin Public Library will begin offering physical materials to customers via curbside service at the following ten (10) locations: Central, Manchaca, Ruiz, Southeast, Carver, Windsor Park, University Hills, North Village, Spicewood Springs, and Milwood. 

Of these locations, the Central Library, the North Village Library and the Spicewood Springs Library are among the closest locations to District 10 neighborhoods, depending on your exact neighborhood of the district. APL will monitor the local conditions and consult with the local health authority to evaluate the expansion of curbside service to other library branches in the community. APL’s long-term plan is to open all libraries and expand customers’ access to materials and computer usage. For a list of library locations and hours visit

Parks and Recreation Facilities
The Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) has begun making park amenities available and opening facilities where:
  • The public can implement self-protective protocols associated with cleaning/disinfecting equipment or park features.
  • Staff-managed sanitation protocols can be appropriately implemented and maintained.
  • Both staff and patrons can abide by recommended social distancing protocols.
PARD is re-establishing access to the following outdoor park amenities:
  • Multi-directional travel on the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail
  • Barton Springs Spillway
  • Disc golf, neighborhood tennis courts, outdoor volleyball courts and outdoor basketball courts
  • Park Pavilions for self-directed use – no rentals
  • Modified access to Zilker Botanical Garden and Mayfield park outdoor spaces with reduced capacity and social distancing monitoring
  • Select swimming pools with modified summer schedules and entry requirements, reduced capacity, no use of locker rooms or showers, and specific cleaning protocols (more information on aquatics below)
For further details about the PARD Summer Reopening Plan, please see this Modified City Operations memo beginning on page 27. 

Reservations are required at Barton Springs, Deep Eddy, Bartholomew, Walnut Creek, Garrison, Northwest, and Mabel Davis Pools. To make reservations, please visit Reservations will be available for two (2)-hour blocks. 

A proposed schedule of pool openings, available in this memo on page 31, will be evaluated weekly based on available resources. Swimming pools may be added or removed from the schedules based upon staffing levels. For an updated list and map of open pools please visit

Splash pads will remain closed for the immediate future, but PARD will evaluate the local conditions regularly to determine when and if splash pads can be reopened safely.

The PARD Swim Team Program for 2020 is canceled, and swim lessons are still being reviewed.

City of Austin Council Redistricting – Volunteers Needed

Beginning June 1st, Austinites can apply to serve on one of two opportunities to redraw the City Council districts and shape Austin’s future. Austin residents can learn more about requirements for serving on either the Applicant Review Panel or the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission and how to apply at

The 14-member Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission will redraw the boundaries of the council districts. The redistricting process happens every ten years and coincides with the census.

Applications will be accepted for the Applicant Review panel from June 1 through Sept. 1. The Independent Redistricting Commission application period opens June 1 and ends Sept. 30.

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