The Austin Chronicle

More Fun with City Commissioners!

By Michael King, May 1, 2015, 4:00pm, Newsdesk

In the latest episode of District 6 City Council Member Don Zimmerman’s already checkered record of board and commission appointments, Zimmerman says he will be nominating Antonio Buehler to the Public Safety Commission, the volunteer city board that recommends public safety policies (APD, AFD, EMS) to the Council.

Buehler, founder of the Peaceful Streets Project, is best known for video monitoring of arrests, his ongoing legal conflicts with APD and the city, and his accusations against APD staff and officers of widespread corruption and cowardice.

CM Zimmerman came a cropper on a couple of his earlier nominations – controversial cemetery activist Sharon Blythe to the Parks and Recreation Board (postponed indefinitely by Council) and more notoriously, Rebecca Forest to the Commission on Immigrant Affairs. Forest withdrew after it was clear that Council wouldn’t approve her appointment, and more to the point, after her rabidly anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim views became widely known.

This week, Zimmerman posted to the Council message board that he intends to nominate Buehler to the PSC. It’s not clear yet what his colleagues on the dais will think about the nomination – nor, for that matter, how PSC commissioners will respond to their potential colleagues – but it’s a good bet members of the Austin Police Department and the Austin Police Association will not be welcoming the nomination with open arms. (After the Forest nomination, District 2 CM Delia Garza said she would be abstaining on all future Zimmerman nominations.)

Other notable Zimmerman nominees include Mackenzie Kelly – one of his opponents in last fall’s District 6 race – to the Commission for Women. Earlier, he nominated another former opponent, Matt Stillwell, to the Arts Commission (approved by Council).

Here’s the full list of Zimmerman’s latest nominations: Michael Benaglio (Board of Adjustment); Antonio Buehler (Public Safety Commission); David Gray (Commission on Seniors); Mackenzie Kelly (Commission for Women); Paul Martin (Airport Advisory Commission); Jaime Mendoza (Commission on Immigrant Affairs); Tim Miller (Human Rights Commission).

In January, Mendoza, Zimmerman’s new pick for the Commission on Immigrant Affairs, reposted an “Obama makes me puke” post on his Facebook page. It features a photo of Michelle Obama doctored to appear she’s holding a sign reading: “My family is a fake / husband is a homo / kids are adopted / I am a man / I still have a wang” – to which Mendoza has added the comment, “Reads legit to me.”

We’ve reached out to some of the various parties involved in or affected by the nominations, and will report the responses in due course.

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