‘Austin should be its city, not a San Francisco copycat,’ tweeted Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, on Sunday in response to an article about Austin police budget cuts.
The response came after a report regarding a proposal approving a budget increase for the police force, with $6.2 million to train new police officers, $2.4 million to fund 18 positions to staff an office overseeing Austin’s public transit initiative and $2.3 million to subsidize affordable housing projects.
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‘Proposition A’ would require there to be at least two Austin police officers for every 1,000 residents, and would also provide officers 40 hours of extra police training each year on topics such as active shooter scenarios and weapon proficiency.
The proposition is a ballot measure included in the November 2 election, and comes after Austin City Council voted last year – in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests – to cut $150 million from its police department’s budget.
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While budget staff for the city have at times worried about shortfalls caused by the effects of the pandemic, City Manager Spencer Cronk presented a much more optimistic picture of the city’s financial situation when he unveiled a draft budget last month.
“Economically, Austin, Texas, has come through the many challenges of the past year in as good or better shape than any big city in America,” Cronk said in July.
“Our local economy is fundamentally strong and performed unexpectedly well during the COVID pandemic, with more positive impacts for our budget than we anticipated even a few months ago.”
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“APD has a hiring problem. They don’t have a funding problem,” Travis County Democratic Party chair Katie Narjanjo said. “And so I do support them being fully staffed. At the same time, they don’t need the additional officers or the additional funds if they can’t even staff the positions they have now.”
Musk made headlines last month when he announced that Tesla’s headquarters will move from Fremont, California to Austin, Texas.
“I’m excited to announce that we’re moving our headquarters to Austin, Texas,” Musk said during the car manufacturer’s annual stockholders meeting on October 7.
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“Here in Austin, our factory’s like five minutes from the airport, 15 minutes from downtown, and we’re going to create an ecological paradise here because we’re right on the Colorado River,” he added. “It’s gonna be great.”
Musk is currently the world’s wealthiest man, with a net worth of $302billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires’ Index.
He is now worth over $100billion more than the second-richest person on earth, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
Stay tuned for more updates here at the East County Gazette.