Timeline: How Spencer Cronk Lost His Job

Hindsight's 20/20

Timeline: How Spencer Cronk Lost His Job
Illustration by Zeke Barbaro / Getty Images (Cronk photo by John Anderson)

Dec. 2017
Spencer Cronk becomes city manager following a secretive search process.

April 2018
Cronk names Brian Manley lone finalist for APD chief, despite concerns from justice advocates that an internal hire won't be a change agent. City Council supports Manley's hiring.

April 2020
A third-party report identifies a culture of bigotry and fear of retaliation within APD. This same month, Officer Christopher Taylor fatally shoots unarmed Michael Ramos, sparking protests.

May 2020
As Council calls for police reform amid national protests over police violence, Cronk lays out plans for "reimagining public safety."

June 2020
Council approves a resolution that says they have "no confidence" in current APD leadership to change APD culture. Cronk refuses to demote or force Manley out, as advocates and Council demand.

July 2020
Cronk proposes FY 2021 budget, which cuts $8.1 million from APD's budget by eliminating a little over half of unfilled officer positions.

Aug. 2020
City Council reviews Cronk's job performance over concerns about him stalling changes to APD leadership.

May 2021
Voters approve Proposition B, which reinstates bans on public camping. Frustrations soon arise as the city delays implementation of the ordinance. They also vote down a "strong mayor" prop, keeping the power and responsibility of running city government within the city manager's office.

Feb. 2022
Austin Water customers fall under the third boil water notice in four years.

May 2022
Negotiations between the city and the Austin Police Association begin over a new police contract, to establish officer pay and civilian oversight.

Aug. 2022
Equity Action's police oversight initiative petition garners enough signatures to land the Austin Police Oversight Act on the November ballot. Later this month, the city clerk fails to validate EA's petition in time for the fall election, pushing the measure to the May 2023 ballot.

Nov. 2022
Austin elects Mayor Kirk Watson who, during his 1997-2001 term as mayor, helped negotiate the city's first police contract with APA and establish the Office of the Police Monitor. Cronk pushes for passage of a compromise contract before the new Council is sworn in. If successful, the new contract, with watered-down oversight, would supersede the APOA, delaying voter-approved oversight reforms until the next contract is negotiated in 2027.

Dec. 2022
Voters for Oversight and Police Accountability collects signatures for a weaker alternative to the Austin Police Oversight Act, using deceptive campaign tactics; VOPA's campaign is almost entirely funded by the APA. Also this month, Council gives Cronk a raise, with CM Alison Alter expressing "deep concerns" about Cronk's performance.

Jan. 2023
We report "near-universal agreement among CMs that Council should approve a one-year extension of the existing police contract," which would allow voters to weigh in on police oversight on the May ballot before the approval of a long-term contract.

Feb. 3, 2023
CM Chito Vela unveils a Council resolution directing staff to negotiate a one-year contract extension.

Feb. 6, 2023
Following criticisms of the city's handling of Winter Storm Mara, Council calls a special meeting to discuss Cronk's job performance.

Feb. 9, 2023
In the morning, Cronk announces a tentative deal with APA on a four-year contract – flouting the intent of Council, which is set to vote on Vela's resolution that afternoon. During an executive session, Council agrees near-unanimously to ask for Cronk's resignation or fire him if he refuses.

Feb. 15, 2023
Council votes 10-1 to fire Cronk.

For an in-depth story by Austin Sanders on Cronk’s history of supporting police, visit austinchronicle.com/cronk.

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