A False Dichotomy

RECEIVED Fri., Jan. 5, 2018

Dear Editor,
    You published an article titled "'A Bitter Pill': APD begins life under Chapter 143," [News, Jan. 5] which described Austin City Council's decision to reject the most recent draft of its meet-and-confer agreement with the Austin Police Association (APA). The article portrayed Council's decision in a very negative light, implying that the decision was hasty and uninformed, and failing to give Council credit for representing and supporting the needs of the community. The author observed that in the days following the vote, council members explained their decision, expressed disappointment in the APA's choice to leave negotiations, and suggested the possibility of an interim contract that would serve some needs of both parties. However, instead of praising Council's transparent communication and openness to compromise, the author dismissed these actions as efforts by council members to "save face" after having made a decision without "considering the consequences." The article also implied that Council was pushing the APA into treacherous legal territory by suggesting further negotiations, noting that the APA could not extend negotiations if the two sides were no longer making progress. This implies that the APA's only options were to leave negotiations or violate the contract, but this implication is a false dichotomy.
    If the APA had been willing to adequately address the community's calls for transparency and oversight, there's no reason further progress couldn't have been made. And finally, while depicting Council as naive and solely responsible for the contract's demise, the article failed to highlight the immense relief and hope Council's vote provided to many in the community. While there are clearly drawbacks to reverting back to Chapter 143, there is also a lot to be gained from investing our resources into other community initiatives. Whether the APA and Council come back to the table and achieve a truly progressive contract, or whether Council chooses to reallocate those funds toward mental health services, substance abuse treatment, programs for the homeless, or other crime-reduction projects, many Austinites are very happy about Council's decision, viewing it as a step forward for our community.
Mandy Blott
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