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New details about the possible future of Austin Police Chief Brian Manley are expected to emerge Thursday, as City Manager Spencer Cronk is set to appear before an Austin City Council committee and update members on his response to calls for the chief's ouster.
Exactly when Cronk will make and announce a decision—whether to fire, demote, or leave him in place—remains to be seen, said Council Member Jimmy Flannigan, who chairs the Public Safety Committee that will be briefed Thursday.
Council members are expected to ask Cronk for an update on his thoughts regarding Manley both in the open meeting and in an executive session. Manley has also been asked to brief the committee on police response to the protests.
"Honestly do not know if Spencer is ready to make a decision by Thursday, or if there's a process he's using to arrive at that decision," Flannigan told Austonia this week. "And it's incredibly frustrating for the public. But to be fair to Spencer, his job is harder than mine. He's very thoughtful and deliberative. That's the type of leader he is, and that's the type of leader you want in government because the decisions we make impact everyone, no matter who you vote for."
Manley, who will mark 30 years with the Austin Police Department in August, is also eligible for retirement. He has not indicated what his plans are in that regard.
Although the committee only has four members, most of the council—many of whom tried to get Cronk to outline his plans during last week's council meeting—is expected to attend. No action items are on the agenda.
Cronk is under immense pressure to make an announcement soon on Manley in the wake of violent clashes between police and anti-brutality demonstrators over the past few weeks.
Cronk, whose position overseeing the city's 13,000 employees makes him responsible for decisions regarding Manley's job, was directed by the Austin City Council last Thursday to testify on that and other plans for police reform during the first meeting of the newly formed Public Safety Committee.
Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk has announced actions to begin addressing inequities in policing, focused on reso… https://t.co/c7TZfXoJg3— City of Austin (@City of Austin)1592434319.0
The committee meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Thursday. See the agenda here.
Last week, the City Council unanimously passed a series of resolutions calling for an overhaul of police budget, practices and leadership.
On Wednesday, Cronk sent a memo to council members outlining his initial plans to begin implementing some of those directives. The memo did not address his thoughts on Manley, but it outlined other initiatives, including delaying a cadet class, eliminating positions at APD and creating a new civil rights division, among other moves.
The proposed budget for 2021, Cronk said, will include the not only new directives by the council "but also the spirit of the conversations occurring in our community."
Flannigan said Thursday's briefing at committee could be interpreted as "a little bit of expectation management for everybody" regarding the timing and process of systemic changes.
"The things you say in a march are important to initiate action," Flannigan said. "And once you've initiated the action, it then becomes incumbent upon myself and my colleagues make it effective."
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Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced a record-setting second quarter during an earnings call broadcasted from the Giga Texas construction site in Southeast Travis County on Monday.
The electric carmaker reported more than $1 billion in quarterly net income and the production of more than 200,000 vehicles for the first time despite challenges such as a global semiconductor shortage.
"It … seems that public sentiment towards electric vehicles is at an inflection point, and at this point, I think, almost everyone agrees electric vehicles are the only way forward," Musk said.
Exterior shots taken just a while ago of Giga Texas (while @elonmusk is reportedly at the Gigafactory!) during today's earnings call!
Hope @peterdog15 got to catch the technoking in his video! #fastestinhistory #Tesla pic.twitter.com/WqeDlb5wU3
— Austin Tesla Club (@AustinTeslaClub) July 26, 2021
Despite rising consumer demand and adequate factory capacity, Tesla faces what Musk described as a "quite serious" global semiconductor shortage, which will determine the company's growth rate for the rest of the year.
With increased revenue and production, Tesla is investing in new factories, Chief Financial Officer Zachary Kirkhorn said. These include Giga Texas, the $1.1 billion manufacturing plant that broke ground last summer and is slated to open later this year.
The Giga Texas factory in Southeast Travis County has rapidly increased in size since ground broke last August. (Tesla)
Musk commended the construction team for "incredible progress," transforming what was basically a vacant site into "a mostly complete large factory a year later."
I was at Giga Texas yesterday. Team is making excellent progress. Building will be almost a mile long when complete.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 25, 2021
Giga Texas will produce the highly anticipated Cybertruck, along with other models, but Musk said scaling its production will be difficult, especially given the supply chain delays caused by the pandemic. "It's going to move as fast as the slowest of its up to 10,000 unique parts," he said.
In other news, Musk said Monday's earnings call would likely be his last regular appearance, only jumping on future quarterly calls when big announcements warrant it.
Tesla Solar recently made news when it announced plans to build the nation's most sustainable residential community in Southeast Austin earlier this month. The newly built homes will feature Tesla solar roof tiles and Powerwall battery storage as well as electric vehicle charging stations.
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The city of Austin released a shortlist of seven candidates for the police chief position left vacant when Brian Manley retired in March.
City Manager Spencer Cronk hopes to announce an appointment by the end of August, which will require City Council approval.
The finalists, chosen from a field of 46 applicants, include:
- APD Interim Chief Joseph Chacon, who previously served as an assistant chief in the department for almost five years
- Anne Kirkpatrick, former police chief in Oakland, California, who was fired last year after a federal monitor criticized her handling of a fatal 2018 police shooting of a homeless man
- Dallas Police Department Assistant Chief Avery L. Moore, who is a 30-year veteran of the department
- Atlanta Police Department Deputy Chief Celeste Murphy, who manages the department's community services division
- Dekalb County Police Chief Mirtha V. Ramos, who previously served as division chief in the Miami-Dade Police Department
- Wichita Police Department Chief Gordon Ramsay, who is a former president of the Minnesota Police Chief's Association as well as one of the first police chiefs of a major U.S. City to call George Floyd's death a murder, as reported by the Wichita Eagle
- Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Emada E. Tingirides, who is also commanding officer of the department's newly formed Community Safety Partnership Bureau, which serves L.A.'s underserved communities
City staff will interview the finalists in the coming weeks, with several community input opportunities to come, according to a Monday press release.
The city conducted a public survey in March and hosted community input meetings in April to learn more about what residents are looking for in their next police chief, which helped shape the selection criteria for the position.
"They want to see the Chief be reform-minded and transparent and have a track record of fostering community involvement and accountability," Cronk said in the release. "The candidates selected show these characteristics in various ways."
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Days after Austin began once again recommending masks in public spaces, Austin ISD announced Monday that kindergarten through sixth-grade classes will have virtual options this fall.
The district will discuss the move in a special board meeting Monday evening starting at 5 p.m., while full details will be released Friday.
Teachers will not have to fret about the new option—no educators will have to juggle both virtual and in-person learning. Instead, certain teachers will specialize in virtual education, according to a press release.
The news comes after a recent spike in COVID cases in Travis County and across the nation. Children typically suffer fewer symptoms of COVID when contracted, but they are now catching the virus more often than their older counterparts without a vaccine available to them and as the more contagious Delta variant is quickly being spread.
While local health officials are recommending everyone wear masks, public school districts are unable to mandate masks due to an executive order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott in May.
Parents have expressed concern about classrooms with masks unenforceable and children under the age of 12 ineligible for a vaccine. Some have even said they would look for alternative schooling if AISD did not offer a virtual option for students.
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