The Daily Hustle: 11/8/10

Meet six finalists for Police Monitor

The Daily Hustle: 11/8/10

Police Monitor is a position created in contract negotiations between the city and the Austin Police Department to hear and recommend investigations of claims against cops by citizens. With the previous monitor indisposed, the city's looking at six finalists to chair the OPM's Citizen Review Panel.

We've got the finalists after the jump.

The finalists, apparently culled from 66 applicants, are as follows:

Cristina Beamud, Executive Director, City of Atlanta Citizen Review Board: Former police herself, she advised cops in Cambridge before setting up a police monitor's office in Eugene, Oregon before landing at her current spot.

Rebecca Bernhardt, Contract Researcher, Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Houston, and Policy Director of Texas Defenders Service: Displaying deep state ties, Bernhardt has worked with both Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid and the ACLU; recently, she was policy director for the ACLU's Texas chapter.

Ann del Llano, Family law attorney/owner of Capitol City Solutions: A familiar firebrand to followers of local politics, del Llano's worked with ACLU Texas. She also delivered a withering critique of Marc Ott's leadership when his performance review came up while deep in the throes of the Nathaniel Sanders II/KeyPoint controversy.

Margo Frasier, Senior Associate of MGT of America: A former Travis County sheriff, Fraiser's MGT is a preferred contractor when the city needs outside investigative work done; they've issued somewhat controversial recommendations on management issues at the Austin Water Utility and increasing efficiency at AISD.

Brian Johnson, Assistant Attorney General/Deputy Director of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit for Texas, Texas Office of the Attorney General: A former assistant DA in Harris County, Johnson previously served in the Harris County Civil Rights Division where he prosecuted police misconduct.

Renita Sanders, Assistant Police Monitor, City of Austin: Sanders currently serves on the OPM's Citizen Review Panel, and would bring continuity to the chair.

A well-qualified bunch, all in all, although some of the litigators may feel stymied by the position's lack of subpoena power. And while the panel's proved useful, having recommended the KeyPoint report which blew open the entire Sanders case, sometimes the Hustle wonders if scrapping the OPM - or at least giving them more teeth – is a smarter move in the next round of police contract bargaining. While it wouldn't be easy, abandoning the meet and confer contract – which created the OPM – could finally mean backing away from ballooning public safety costs and salaries. and an arbitration system that roadblocks the police chief's efforts to remove cops from the force he doesn't see fit to serve. (Note: Edited to reflect the comment below from del Llano.)

Interviews with the finalists are scheduled Nov. 12, with a public meet-and-greet to follow soon after. City Manager Ott anticipates naming a monitor in December.

What the hell else is happening?

On the city calendar: The Board of Adjustment/Sign Review Board meets in Council Chambers at City Hall, 301 w. Second, 5:30pm

The Waterfront Planning Advisory Board meets in the Boards and Commissions Room at City Hall, 6pm.

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