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Austin Police confront a crowd at the May 30, 2020, protest over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Michael Ramos in Austin. (Jana Birchum)

After weeks of protests in the spring of 2020, anti-policing activist sold the Austin City Council on the idea that the police department was bloated and far too unaccountable. The council voted in August 2020 to launch policy reforms, transfer certain units to independent control, trim the police budget by about 5 percent, and reinvest the savings in social services.

However, according to a first-quarter financial report, spending on policing actually increased in the first three months after the new budget took effect October 1, 2020, from $111.97 million in 2019 to $112.2 million in 2020. While that's not much of an increase, it's quite a bit off from the 5 percent cut that should be in effect, and it's a far cry from the even deeper cuts that activists had hoped for.

Read the full story on The Austin Bulldog.

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The City of Austin law department has more than 100 attorneys and staff. Yet when time came to litigate a new land use proposal last year, the city turned to an outside firm. That decision has so far cost the city $119,583 in a hitherto fruitless lawsuit.

Financial records reviewed by The Austin Bulldog show that the city paid that amount to the firm Scott Douglass & McConnico LLP, mostly for attorney Jane Webre, who charged $480 an hour.

Read the full story at The Austin Bulldog.

A post-election bid by Council Member Greg Casar to become the next mayor pro tem has run into trouble, with Alison Alter emerging as a challenger and several council members still undeclared in their support.

Per Article II Section 10 of the city charter, the mayor pro tem "shall act as mayor during the absence or disability of the mayor, and shall have power to perform every act the mayor could perform if present."

Read the full story at The Austin Bulldog.

Today is the final day of early voting ahead of the Dec. 15 runoff election, which sees incumbent Council Members Jimmy Flannigan, in District 6, and Alison Alter, in District 10 facing radically different challengers.

Mackenzie Kelly, who is running against Flannigan, is a Republican who opposes the direction of council on many of its priority issues, including the land use code, police reform and homelessness. Jennifer Virden, who is running against Alter, has a platform that is similarly oriented.

The Austin Bulldog wrote about both races, diving into the funding behind them, each candidate's campaign issues, the endorsements granted and how the candidates have performed at recent forums. You can read more in D6 runoff: Flannigan vs Kelly and D10 runoff: Alter vs Virden.