"...The past six weeks have seen two sworn employees of the Austin Fire Department suspended 60 days for drinking and driving. In an odd twist, in both cases the firefighters were arrested while purchasing food at fast-food restaurants...."
"...Dear Editor, As a member of the American Fire Service and someone who loves the city of Austin, I have kept a close watch from a distance on the department and city, from the hiring of J.J. Adame through the current situation..."
"...Recalling those halcyon days, you might have forgotten that City Hall's current "open-government" fiasco actually started somewhere real, that those emails Mayor Lee Leffingwell and Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez exchanged with each other during a particularly heated council meeting back in April 2010 – the ones pointed to as proof of rudeness at best and conspiracy at worst – were actually related to legitimate matters in the Austin Fire Department. Over the testy objections (public and private) of Leffingwell and Martinez (joined in their "no" votes by Council Member Laura Morrison), council voted to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on a consultant whose appointed task was to beef up AFD's targeted recruiting efforts and – in theory – increase the number of African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and women becoming Austin firefighters...."
"...Reports from Downtown are saying the Austin Fire Department is on the scene of a two-alarm fire at the Sheraton Hotel (701 E. 11th)...."
"...... Never give up your dreams." She adds, "When you're 18, think about joining the Austin Fire Department!"..."
"...Or so that seemed to be the case at this year's South by Southwest. Perusing articles in various local and national media about the conference, one could easily get the idea that there's a war going on between the Fire Department and the local music scene..."
"...Last week, the new 10-1 City Council accomplished something that had eluded its predecessors: It brought together Austin Fire Department Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr and Austin Fire Association President Bob Nicks in an agreement that – if it holds – could mark a turning point in the city's labor-management relations. The AFD is currently operating under a U.S..."
"...But there's a great, big, ugly, angry exception to the rule that the city's people come first. It's the Austin Association of Professional Firefighters, the union that represents the 800-plus men and women in uniform at the Austin Fire Department..."
"...The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday formally notified the city that its investigators will be looking into hiring practices at the Austin Fire Department, acting on allegations that hiring procedures discriminate against minorities...."
"...The Public Safety Commission on March 7 unanimously approved sending to City Council a resolution that would direct city staff to begin looking into ways that it could bring Austin Fire Department stations on board in five particularly needy city areas. Austin Firefighters Association President Bob Nicks told the commission that a 38% increase in the city's population since 2000 (in addition to expectations of similar growth through 2030) has significantly reduced AFD's ability to respond to emergency situations within the prescribed standard time (AFD is expected to respond within eight minutes of each call at least 90% of the time)..."
"...That's an issue on which they will surely find great support from their neighbors to the northwest in District 6. As Meeker noted, "In West Lake Hills, whenever they're removing [brush], they say they're removing fuel." However, the Austin Fire Department is already understaffed because of the ongoing Department of Justice discrimination action, and Meeker sees existing ordinances – such as the $500 firework fine – as both weak and scarcely enforced...."
"...Although not officially affiliated with either festival, says Le Popov, the FactoryPeople parties have always come off without a hitch until this year. About an hour into a March 15 SXSW afterparty, at around 12:30am, an Austin Fire Department marshal showed up and shut down the fun...."
"...They conjure up thoughts of political sex scandals, financial malfeasance, steroid use, or worse. So when Austin Fire Department Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr hastily took the podium at City Hall last Thursday, we had to figure things were bad...."
"...Contract bargaining between the city and the fire department union has ended for now, and while there's no deal inked just yet, the process has been a far cry from the contentious talks of last year. The last day of prescribed talks between the groups came Friday, Oct..."
"...It seems that controversy follows Austin Fire Department Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr wherever she goes. While extinguishing local blazes over everything from staffing decisions to a redesign of the department emblem, Kerr was called back to Little Rock, Ark..."
"...Every time Austin annexes part of an outlying district, it takes a portion of that district's tax base to provide emergency services. Rather than sit back and wait for that to happen piecemeal, the ESD 6 Board of Commissioners last year gave LTFR clearance to look into creating a partnership with Austin that would essentially fold ESD 6 into the Austin Fire Department, thereby preserving Lake Travis fire and rescue jobs and smoothing the way for what many see as an inevitable annexation...."
"...Two years ago, to the tune of an 18-month, $118,000 contract, I/O Solutions was hired to help the city of Austin redevelop the tests it uses to select new members of the Austin Fire Department. The deal was supposed to help put an end to the hiring conflicts that had brought AFD to the attention of the U.S..."
"...About two months ago, the Austin Fire Department posted an announcement on Craigslist that looked a bit out of place among the site's advertisements for used dishwashers; rides to Flagstaff, Ariz.; and illicit sexual encounters. AFD, it read, "is looking for 48 outstanding citizens of Austin to become part of the Oral Interview Boards that will screen incoming potential Firefighter Cadets..."
"...In last week's Chronicle (March 11), I inadvertently helped put Austin Fire Department Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr in the awkward position of announcing (initially on the Austin-American Statesman news blog), "I am not a gay woman." That unusual moment came about because I was reporting a story ("Council E-mails Prompt Ethics Complaint, Lawsuit") about some of the fallout from the City Hall e-mail releases – specifically, the NAACP ethics complaint against Mayor Lee Leffingwell and Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez (along with the Public Information Act lawsuit filed by the Austin Bulldog) for e-mail comments they made during an April 8, 2010, City Council meeting. I interviewed Austin NAACP President Nelson Linder (by phone) about the ethics complaint, and among several other things, asked him what he meant in the complaint by citing "racist and sexist overtones" in the comments by Leffingwell and Martinez: that is, Martinez criticizing City Manager Marc Ott and Assistant City Manager Mike McDonald ("jokes") and Austin African American Firefighters Association President Bobby Johns ("bought off"), and Leffingwell describing Kerr as a "company man."..."
"...Having just labored through the pleadings filed by the Austin Firefighters Association to the federal court considering the proposed consent decree on firefighter hiring between the U.S. Department of Justice and the City of Austin, I find myself agreeing with Council Member Mike Martinez..."
"...Sued if you do, sued if you don't. That looks like the choice facing City Council at today's meeting, Thursday, May 15, whatever they decide on Item 10 of their agenda: "Approve a settlement of claims asserted by the United States Department of Justice concerning hiring practices within the Austin Fire Department." This particular blaze has been simmering a while, and the city had delayed hiring new AFD cadets until the claims of discrimination – more specifically, "adverse impact" on minorities in the qualifying process – were reviewed the DOJ...."
"...The unfolding story of allegedly discriminatory hiring practices within the Austin Fire Department – already the subject of a possible consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice – took another turn Feb..."
"...The political honeymoon may not be entirely over, but today (Feb. 5) the new City Council is scheduled to address its first truly contentious (and long-festering) policy issue: Austin Fire Department hiring..."
"...With over 1,550 homes destroyed, Linklater said, "In a small community, that's a large percentage homelessness. Everyone I talk to has been affected, and it's a real jolt to someone's life." That made it particularly important to him that the Heart of the Pines Volunteer Fire Department be one one of the event's beneficiaries..."
"...Says the Blotter, "About 30 units from the Austin Fire Department are on the scene of a three-alarm restaurant fire inside the Inter-Continental Stephen F. Austin Hotel downtown..."
"...Folks are already lining up to harangue the council on the Midtown misplay, but the clumsy, panicky way the entire matter was handled a direct consequence, despite official denials, of the public relations disaster created by the stupid, unprofessional, and marginally racist comments of Austin Police Department officers during the Midtown Live fire backfired completely. The deal was already on life support when the city released Futrell's memo to Brewster McCracken, summarizing the discussions that had taken place, in the immediate aftermath of the fire, among Futrell, Assistant City Manager Michael McDonald, and Jo Cash Baylor, acting on behalf of her mother, Selena Cash, and the Cash family (owners of the nightclub)..."
"...The morning meeting hasn't gotten quite as much play – only two items, and the first, "Legal issues related to hiring in the Austin Fire Department ...," is an executive session consultation with the city's legal counsel, presumably bringing the new Council up to date on the status of the U.S. Department of Justice consent decree covering AFD firing..."
"...At approximately 2:30pm a large fire broke out in an employee-only area near the Wamu tent and the AT&T stage, where Pete Yorn was performing. The Austin Fire Department was called to the scene and quickly extinguished the fire, whose smoke clouds loomed large over the festival grounds..."
"...› Aug. 2010: Inspection by Austin Fire Department cites inadequate access to building; Longoria still seeking sufficient parking...."
"...100% of the proceeds will benefit relief efforts, including such organizations as the Bastrop Emergency Food Pantry, Heart of the Pines Volunteer Fire Department, and Friends of the Lost Pines State Parks...."
"...The three men were on a scaffold 11 stories high when it appeared to collapse, according to witnesses, and the men fell to their deaths. (A fourth man was able to hold on to equipment and received only minor injuries.) The circumstances of the deaths remain under investigation by the Austin office of Occupational Safety & Health Administration of the federal Department of Labor; according to Elizabeth Todd, an OSHA spokeswoman based in Dallas, safety compliance investigators have six months to complete their investigation before releasing the results...."
"...Austin Fire Department's chief arson investigator, Greg Nye, said that on the Friday before Feinstein's arrest, he submitted to a polygraph test, which showed signs of deception. After investigators showed him the results, he confessed and was given until Monday morning to turn himself in to police..."
"...The General Fund (operating expense) and Support Services Departments came up with $23 million in potential cuts (the enterprise/income producing departments are not in this exercise), and your judgment of their wisdom will likely depend on your sense of city service priorities. At a minimum, I would think folks might wonder if a $50 kickback to homeowners would be worth what it will cost in community needs...."
"...We don't allow this shell game of padding the budget through [job] "vacancy savings" continue year after year. When Code Compliance department needed 19 new FTEs last year, yet they clearly demonstrated in their own data that their number of inspections from the previous year to the coming year was going to drop, by several thousand inspections, it didn't make sense to us..."
"...Wearing a vintage white lace number procured by Mme. Kate Messer, I was just getting settled among the beanie babies and arranging some Twinkie packs, when WHOOP, lights flashing, here came an Austin Fire Department truck..."
"...Stekler was hired last year by the University of Texas as head of production for Austin's Department of Radio-Television-Film. Currently one of the most successful documentary producers in the country, his works have included two highly acclaimed PBS series, Eyes on the Prize and Vote for Me: Politics in America (for which he was awarded an Emmy and a Peabody), and he carries with him a reputation for being able to bring together disparate elements and meld them into cohesive working units (i.e., he gets things done)..."
"...Will the Austin Fire Department ever look like the city it serves?..."
"...Don't get the Downtown Rangers confused with the Texas Rangers. These citizen officers of the Austin Police Department patrol a 200-block area of Central Austin (7am-6pm, weekdays; 8am-5pm, weekends) and can be a useful source of advice if you get lost..."
"...• Capitol Arson Suspect Arrested: The man suspected of setting fire to a car outside the Texas State Capitol has been arrested. Texas Department of Public Safety identified Iowa native Michael Patrick Wagner, 38, through a parking ticket..."
"...Fallout from the controversy surrounding the February fire that destroyed the Midtown Live nightclub continued last week when Austin Police Chief Stan Knee and City Manager Toby Futrell penned a request to Western District of Texas U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, asking the feds to review the APD's "policies, procedures and practices." Citing the Statesman's much (self-)touted series on police use of force and the "Burn Baby, Burn"/Midtown Live incident, Knee and Futrell told Sutton that there has been an erosion of trust "within the community." "While we believe that the police department has worked diligently to improve training and policies, an independent review of the [APD] could help the department continue to improve while rebuilding community trust," they wrote...."
"...Our partners include the National Weather Service, our county emergency planning team, we have a representative from the state emergency planning team, we have our medical – UTMB [University of Texas Medical Branch]. We have the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, MHMR [Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation] – which here is known as the Gulf Coast Center..."
"...He can take some unlikely comfort in knowing that, thus far, he's the only official to lose his job in the ritual finger-pointing over the lack of security at the mansion – although he had absolutely nothing to do with it, and it's abundantly clear that those who were responsible have made his mistakes look like flyspecks. In addition, acting Fire Chief Jim Evans also took some heat from Ott for not notifying him of the blaze, although Evans was a trifle busy at the time, and by all accounts the Fire Department performed admirably in saving what it could. The Fire This Time..."
"...City Manager Toby Futrell was belatedly chewing that lesson this week as she postponed her proposal, announced last week, that the city provide a forgivable, 20-year loan of $750,000 to the owners of Midtown Live, the Cameron Road night club that burned down in February. Instead, the city's demographer will simply brief City Council today (Thursday) on a "scorecard" for Austin's African-American community, and over the next 60 to 90 days, the city will host public discussions on how best to address lingering tensions between Eastside citizens and city institutions, especially the Austin Police Department..."
"...The U.S. Department of Justice has made 160 recommendations to improve Austin Police Department policies and procedures, as part of the ongoing federal investigation of department practices..."
"...A group of homeless Austinites camping on 18.2 acres of undeveloped land in South Austin were forced to find another place to live last week after a team of Parks and Recreation Department grounds managers and a city cleanup crew arrived to notify them of their trespassing...."
"...... The EEOC and the Department of Justice have their own timelines, and the city has nothing to do with that." Big Boss Men..."
"...The recent news of a criminal probe into the city's Department of Small and Minority Business Resources, which oversees the program, is unlikely to make M/WBE any less controversial. "It's just a really tough program to manage," says Council Member Betty Dunkerley, who in her previous life as city finance director played a key role in Austin's M/WBE saga..."
"...Close observers of local police data won't be surprised by the findings of the brief published last month by the Center for Policing Equity titled "The Science of Policing Equity: Measuring Fairness in the Austin Police Department." Most of the findings already appeared in March's annual report published by the Office of the Police Monitor, and in OPM reports published in the few years before that. In sum, according to data provided by APD, officers in 2015 pulled over, searched the cars of, or arrested black drivers at a rate disproportionate to that race's demographical representation within the city..."
"...Spelman proposed that the request be reduced to the 46 officers expected to be assigned to actual patrol work. He pointed out that based on the department's own data, the overall workload on officers had not increased sufficiently to justify all 59 hires (the original request, in the spring, had been for 126)..."
"...Inside the city's Emergency Operations Center in East Austin, city, county and Circuit of the Americas officials highlighted the collaboration among city departments and county, state, and federal agencies that for more than a year have been planning for the city's inaugural F1 weekend, now just 10 days away. "We've been working with a very single-focused and tracked mind" to prepare for the race, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo told the assembled media..."