Bullies Will Be Bullies

Decoding Jimmy Flannigan and Ken Casaday’s most recent tiff

APA President Ken Casaday laying into City Council
APA President Ken Casaday laying into City Council

Last Thursday's blowup between City Council Member Jimmy Flannigan and Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday over the expired police contract wasn't rich in new material. Casaday's comments, delivered during Citizen Communication, were prompted by what he described as 300 angry officers confronting him at the union hall over the impasse. Enter the APA prez into City Hall, where he said, "It's been nothing but foot dragging and wasted time by this Council."

Wouldn't you know, Flannigan responded as he has since the contract expired last December, by recalling how Council offered to extend pay and benefits as part of an interim deal while the Office of the Police Monitor conceived a new oversight system. That drew quite the ire from Casaday, who jumped back to the lectern to straight-up shout at Flannigan, saying his logic was "bullshit" and eliciting a few "Ken, please" pleas from Mayor Steve Adler. Flannigan told me that afternoon that he wanted to remind Casaday about the rejected interim deal "because I won't be bullied" by a union that has known the schedule for a while.

Flannigan isn't the only one talking about "bullying" during this saga; other public safety employees have used the word to describe the CM's style of dealing with the unions. But while the Austin Firefighters Association and Austin-Travis County EMS Association have experience getting pushed around by previous councils, the APA just came off of 20 years of largely getting their way, and being among the highest paid in the state because of the bargaining chips state law made of transparency and discipline. They're out of practice getting strong-armed.

Though Flannigan has been the most vocal of his colleagues, several CMs have grown so concerned with the fiscal implications of the working contract that they've refused to bend to the union's desired timeline. City Manager Spencer Cronk has reflected that tough attitude in negotiations (which are stalled pending the oversight report, which was reportedly completed this month), rejecting a similar demand this summer. APA negotiators told the city's Labor Relations team that the ongoing delay was "silly" and proposed eliminating oversight from the contract completely in order to pave the way for a quick deal. Labor Relations Officer Deven Desai said in no uncertain terms that he'd been given directions by Cronk and oversight had to be incorporated. One city staffer expressed doubt that the city team even called Cronk on that, suggesting that city commitment to oversight is a given.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Jimmy Flannigan
Pick Your Plan for McKalla Place
Pick Your Plan for McKalla Place
Precourt vs. the field

Austin Sanders, Aug. 10, 2018

Quote of the Week: Jimmy Flannigan
Quote of the Week: Jimmy Flannigan
Nutjobs, all of 'em

Feb. 9, 2018

More Ken Casaday
Quote of the Week: Ken Casaday
Quote of the Week: Ken Casaday
APA president still peeved about failed police contract

Jan. 5, 2018

Ken’s Crew: APA Re-Elects Casaday
Ken’s Crew: APA Re-Elects Casaday
Incumbent prez’s next task: shepherding meet-and-confer agreement through City Council

Nina Hernandez, Nov. 17, 2017

More by Nina Hernandez
Indoor Skydiving Lets You Train Your Dragon in Virtual Reality
Indoor Skydiving Lets You Train Your Dragon in Virtual Reality
Taking to the skies with iFly's latest immersive VR

March 27, 2019

New Study Changes City Council's View of Flood Risk
New Study Changes City Council's View of Flood Risk
Puzzling over a variance on Avenue D, and spending the first of the 2018 bond funds

March 15, 2019


Jimmy Flannigan, Ken Casaday, Steve Adler, Spencer Cronk, Deven Desai

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle