AUSTIN — Amid a two-year public safety disaster on the streets of Texas’ capital city, far-left New York billionaire George Soros has again arrived on the scene, this time to block Austinites from restoring law enforcement to their town.
Late last month, Soros poured $500,000 into Equity PAC, a leftist organization trying to stop the upcoming Proposition A on Austin’s November election ballot.
Proposition A would reform and restore adequate police officers to the desperately understaffed Austin Police Department (specifically, the proposition would enact the nationally recognized “Safe City Standard” of two police officers per 1,000 citizens, as well as several other reforms).
The overall story traces back to last year, when the Democrat-run city council unanimously voted to defund APD by up to $150 million (one-third of their budget) and cancel three police cadet training academies. Since then, the department has lost hundreds of officers and disbanded numerous units, including some related to DWI, family violence safety and stalking, and criminal interdiction.
Over the summer, APD Chief Joseph Chacon said 911 response times are now “dramatically slower” and the department is in a “dire situation.” Last week, he announced the department will no longer dispatch officers for numerous 911 calls.
Meanwhile, a killing spree is happening on the streets. Austin now has the most homicides in a year in the city’s history, according to records dating back to 1960—and that’s with three months still remaining in 2021.
Austinites, however, are now trying to override the council’s defund decision.
Citizen group Save Austin Now recently organized and completed a petition campaign (with more than 25,000 signatures) to put the proposed public safety law on the November ballot.
“We are now at 1,540 available police officers, down from 1,959 authorized strength and 1,800 available just two years ago,” wrote SAN co-founder Matt Mackowiak last month. “We will be at 1998 police staffing levels by the end of the year, when our city was 25 percent as large as we are today.”
The crisis in Texas’ capital city even prompted the state Legislature to approve a law this year that punishes city governments that defund the police. Though Austin city officials responded by recently “refunding” the department in next year’s city budget, SAN members said city hall’s response was “wholly inaccurate” and may not actually address the public safety needs in the department and the city.
Save Austin Now already succeeded earlier this year when they brought together an overwhelming majority of Austinites in both political parties to override the city council’s disastrous homeless camping decision.
Now, far-left Soros is trying to make sure the citizen group doesn’t succeed again.
“Why? Who benefits from chaos and why is New York money trying to keep our city on this trajectory?” wrote Save Austin Now on their website.
“Massive out-of-state funding for our opponents show two things: That Austin donors won’t fund the anti-Prop A campaign and that the stakes in this effort to restore public safety to Austin could not be higher,” said SAN co-founders Mackowiak and Cleo Petricek in a joint statement. “We are now going to fight twice as hard and we hope all our supporters will as well.”
Soros has intruded into Austin before to influence city policies; last year, he donated $652,000 to an organization that helped elect current Democrat District Attorney Jose Garza. Garza’s office has since been enflamed in serious allegations of corruption and evidence suppression.
However, Austinites, not Soros, will ultimately decide on the police staffing reforms this fall. Early voting begins on October 18 and runs through October 29. Election Day is November 2.