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An election May 1 will give Austinites the chance to decide on the municipal equivalent of a constitutional amendment. Proposition F would fundamentally alter the system of government in Austin, giving the mayor the power to veto council decisions and directly manage the administrative affairs of the city.

An analogous debate took place in 1787-88 during the writing and ratification of the U.S. Constitution, pitting the Constitution's supporters, known as Federalists, against a faction known as the Anti-Federalists. The latter warned that the document would give too much power to the federal government, and to the president in particular.

Read the full story at The Austin Bulldog.

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A couple of recent investments helped prepare EMS for the winter storm. Perhaps the most impactful was a call-in service, known as a clinical consult line. That helped EMS to more effectively triage patients, preventing ambulances from going out on unnecessary errands. The consult line is similar to the sort of nurse hotline that's offered by insurers or healthcare providers, except that it's staffed by paramedics.

Despite the new investments, the Austin EMS Association would like to see additional investments in the coming years.

Read the full story at The Austin Bulldog.

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.

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.