Thanks to rampant leftism, Austin, Texas, heads for Mad Max territory
I lived in Austin, Texas, in the mid-1980s and found it a lovable city. It had a vibrant cultural community, beautiful neighborhoods, and a massive campus that felt surprisingly safe and normal for a girl who had graduated from the degrading madness of UC Berkeley. Now, though, Austin is a city in thrall to hard leftism, and the only vibrant thing there is the out-of-control crime.
In 2020, Austin moved to the forefront of leftist-run cities that enthusiastically embraced the defund the police mantra. In August 2020, Fox News reported on the major changes that the Austin city council had made to police funding:
Austin, Texas became the latest city to defund the police Thursday when the city council voted unanimously to cut up to $150 million from its police department budget -- about 34% of its current total -- and reinvest the funds in other services, The Texas Tribune reported.
The money was, of course, reallocated to all sorts of feel-good social services. Within a year, Fox News was reporting that Austin was dealing with a significant rise in crime:
Amid nationwide protests seeking police reforms last summer, the Austin, Texas, city council decided to cut about one-third of its police budget – the largest cut of any major city in America.
Councilman Greg Cesar, a progressive who spearheaded the push to cut funding, said the vote offered a moment to "celebrate what the movement has achieved for safety, racial justice and democracy."
But since the budget cut, Austin has gotten much less safe. According to statistics compiled by the data analysis firm AH Datalytics, the city has seen a nearly 71% increase in homicides over the past year. While homicides have increased nationwide since 2020, Austin’s increase is one of the largest the firm has tracked.
Sadly, the Austin residents—and Austin is a city with a disproportionate number of young college grads thanks to its tech sector—rejected the ballot proposal to increase police funding.
That background explains the current lawlessness in Austin. And funnily enough, whenever lawlessness hits a major urban area, one of the most visible manifestations seems to be street racing or “sideshows.” That plague has now struck Austin, with street racing taking over a major downtown intersection:
Some Austin City Council members are speaking out about the police department's vacancies and ongoing problems at the 911 call center after a chaotic scene unfolded downtown on Saturday night.
Street racers took over an intersection at South Lamar Boulevard and Barton Springs Road, drifting in the middle of the street and setting off fireworks as throngs of people looked on at the mayhem.
One law enforcement officer was injured and several police cars were damaged in the fracas.
Council Member Alison Alter told the Austin American-Statesman that she happened upon the street takeover and called 911, but ended up on hold for 28 minutes.
The Austin Police Department's emergency communications division has been dealing with a staffing crisis for several months, with the 911 call center lowering its minimum staffing requirements last August due to "unprecedented vacancy rates."
In October, the average hold time for 911 calls in Austin was two-and-a-half minutes. Only about two-thirds of 911 calls were answered within 15 seconds that month, far below the national standard of 90% in 15 seconds or less.
Austin policy makers are directly responsible for the overall safety of their citizens & visitors. Looks like they failed to make the right decisions & continue to defund, destroy, & demoralize public safety. Austin was one of the safest cities, NOT anymore. @Austin_Police https://t.co/j6OTTQE1ct— Austin Police Association (@ATXPOA) February 19, 2023
Leftism promises heaven and invariably delivers hell. Cities with leftist governance have more crime, more filth, more homelessness, more public urination and defecation, and more underperforming schools than conservatively run cities. What works to maintain a city is what always works: Policies that encourage responsibility and discourage crime. Abandon those principles and, suddenly, once-shiny American cities begin to look like Mad Max outtakes.
Image: Twitter screen grab.