Travis County Law [Video]
Sheriff explains cite and release to Austin Interfaith
By Richard Whittaker,
2:27PM, Wed. Aug. 11, 2010
Last Sunday night, local community organizers Austin Interfaith took an interesting new direction. After years of simply giving their seal of approval to candidates, the group pledged to start a massive get-out-the-vote operation on progressive issues.
The most informative part of the night may have come from elected officials reaching out on policy.
Case in point: Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton explained exactly what the state's new cite and release law means for law enforcement and citizens. After that, Major Mark Sawa gave details about the new anonymous complaints system they have put in place. That's been a particularly pointed issue because of popular concerns that local law enforcement has been acting as de facto immigration enforcement.
As for the rest of the evening, Austin Interfaith's leadership is hoping that their citywide grassroots network of 30 churches, unions and local organizing groups can translate into 20,000 votes for progressive issues. It's less about backing individual candidates and more about getting potential voters informed and motivated about concerns central to the AI platform: Worker's rights, improved police accountability and community relations, improved educational opportunities, continued funding for the Capital IDEA continuing education program, (Mayor Lee Leffingwell committed to work on that issue at the meeting) meaningful immigration reform, the DREAM Act (Congressman Lloyd Doggett confirmed that he'll re-introduce that next session), plus affordable and sensible health care provisions.
Looking at those numbers, 20,000 doesn't sound like a lot in a city closing in on a population of 1 million: But considering how dismal election turnout is, delivering on that promise could give Austin Interfaith surprising clout at the ballot box.