America is rapidly turning into a country of weak, lawless individuals, supported and endorsed by the Democrat policies. This is exactly what the Democrats want and we must put an end to it. On this episode we chat with Matt Mackowiak, County GOP Chairman for Travis County and co-founder of Save Austin Now, a group focused on making its community safer and more enjoyable for its citizens. We talk about the pain points of the Defund the Police Movement and the near-term and long-term impacts of "reimagining public safety."
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Hey everybody. Today on the answer we discuss in more detail what's happening in our Democrat run cities, and why the lawlessness continues to breed even more heartaches for its citizens. The defund the police policies are real, and they bring some serious challenges. Matt McCovey AK from Save Austin now chats with us about his vision for better Austin and ways in which you too can get involved. Please consider supporting this podcast. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook at Ben Armenta Texas. You can also find out more about my story at Ben armenta.com Listen, I think homeschool that might be the solution homeschool might be the way because I know some kids are four and five years old. My buddy asked him to come and watch his kids play soccer. I got another three minutes late. Walk out of the soccer field. I'm like, hey, what's the score my buddy goes up. We don't keep score here. All these kids are winners even though here in St. Louis. I was like all these kids are winners that kid's got his jersey on inside out and he's chasing a butterfly that kids that a winner just not even made up. They've outlawed the use of red pen in the school district because they read is too aggressive of a color for kids. For real, they're gonna see the color red and be reminded of their failures. Maybe the older they're gonna see Read and be insecure. Only have a job for them just reporting the news. What? Like, here's the grading system for all of us coming through school a, b, c, d. F like we skipped a letter to make sure kids knew they were failures you gotta go get an E for more effort. No. Failure. Like once I'm in high school, I got an F with an exclamation point on it does. Kids need to learn to succeed and fail right everybody? Yeah. I think it's good for a kid to create a culture of failure in his life so that he can get older and play for the Rams. You know, I'm saying no, no. Just I've been waiting a year to tell that joke, you guys. It's like where's he going with this one? I'm just saying kids need to learn to succeed and fail. It's good for kids. My neighborhood this year. No more diving board the pool? No, we're diving board because last summer some idiot kid tried to go off the diving board. His eyes closed. That's not the time to laugh. Wow. Okay. kids getting hurt. Yeah. Slow down. kid went over to the dashboard last closed laying on the concrete. And they were like they were like no more diving board. It's not safe for kids. America that is not the solution. Okay. Kids want to be idiots. We got to start weeding some of these kids out. Come here, buddy. Yeah. I'm just saying there's no trampolines. There's no bike Graham's there's no diving boards. And you wonder why you got grown man walking around in skinny jeans. Just saying. I'm a superstition and tradition kind of guy. Maybe it's because my favorite sport is baseball. Maybe it's because I do really well, when I've got routine in my life. I don't know. Either way, I like to create little traditions in our house. And I try to keep them going from time to time. And they don't always stick but I do my best. And part of it is that my daughter is a little bit like me. And she to kind of helps me keep these traditions and Armenta isms sort of alive and well and going in our house. So for years, I've had an American flag outside my house, and one of those brick wall mounted flags, kind of 45 degree angle thing. I've had it long enough that I've replaced the flag several times. And I really only normally keep it out about 20 25% of the time. I mean major holidays. Good weather day I live in the Houston area in a town called Katy and we get those big Texas rainstorms and some tough weather so I put it out in good weather days. And for a long time, I've been wanting a Texas flag. And this past Christmas my parents got me one and I love it. The plan has always been to fly it on important Texas days. And as ever a seventh grader in Texas knows, February through April is a major time in Texas history. So for those of you that aren't in Texas, every seventh grader in the state of Texas takes Texas history. So they all know this. There's lots going on right now. And so, February through March or February through April is really this time period in which tons of great Texas history happened as far as the calendar year. Really the primary weeks in which the Texas fought for its independence from Mexico. So my new tradition, I decided to have my flag up for every day of the Battle of the Alamo. Anyway, I was talking about it the other day with my kids and Lily, my daughter decided to search the webs for what was happening at the Alamo on that particular day, and she tried to quiz me on it. And all my guesses were slightly off the Victory or death letter day. Nope. The day the line in the sand was drawn. Nope. She proceeds to tell me it was actually the day that the immortal 32 the reinforcements from Gonzalez arrived sneaking past enemy lines. So I thought to myself, Man, it'd be fun to kind of imagine what it must have been like when those 32 men showed up. It was 3am on March 1. I think one of the reasons why I enjoy history so much is that I actually find it fun to imagine and think about what I would have done in those situations or what my life would have been like had I been there in those moments, knowing what I know now. So I asked the family, if perhaps when those guys showed up, if they were like greeted with high fives and Lily said that she thought well, for sure it'd be fist bumps. And then I followed it up by saying well, there there absolutely were some chest bumps too. I mean, they're seeing their you know, Their homeboys showing up, so they definitely were excited. I mean, this was a game changer. These old boys had been under siege, Colonel Travis, I mean, he was dispatching letters, sending them as fast as he could ask him for reinforcements from from others, and there really hadn't been any replies. And then out of the blue, under the cover of darkness, these 32 amped up jacked up, read as Texians showed up at the Alamo gates. I mean, this wasn't buoy or Crockett, or Travis, it wasn't Fannin, or Barnum. But these dudes who knew that death was almost a certainty over the coming days. I mean, they were heroes, to those who are inside those mission walls. And they darn well, are heroes to all of us. So I understand it's 32 names, but here on the answer. We decided we need to honor these brave men. So I want you to just take a step back and imagine what it was like when those gates opened up. And these men stepped through. Isaac G Baker, 21 years old. John Kane 34 George W. Caudill, 25 David P comments 20 T seven. Jacob see Darst 42 John Davis 25 yr de ma 28. William dear Duff, nice. Charles, especially air 24 Omraam Dickinson husband of Susanna Dickinson, William fish ba all Bert Martin 28 John Flanders 36 dolphin, Ward Floyd 32 Gao few 16 years old John E. Garvan. 40 John E. Gaston 17. James George 34 Thomas Jackson, John Benjamin Kellogg the second 19 years old. And you can't 44 Jonathan l Lindley 22 GSE McCoy 32 Thomas R Miller 40 Isaac Millsaps 41 joj Negan 28 William E. Somers 24. Joel Debbie Tomlinson 22 Robert white 30 Clay born, right 26 William, Phillip King, six teen years old, and their commander at 33 years old George C. Kimball. There was a time when men like that served as inspiration to our youth. And there are times not that long ago, when stepping out into the world meant being able to provide for yourself and your family. But sadly, the woke the weak, leftist culture continues to erode all that made America a vibrant and strong nation. I remember a handful of years ago, it was referred to as the was suffocation of America, a nation that was raising whiskies. I mean, we're pretty much there. And it's so pervasive, that comedian John Crist is making jokes. And people get it. They understand. It's, it's true. And all kidding aside, this is exactly what the Democrats want. They want a world in which people are dependent upon the government. They want disruptions. They want lawlessness and mob mentality. They want a world in which achievements based on hard work and discipline, and ultimately merit. They want that world gone forever. They want you moms and dads, they want you and me to raise weaklings, weaklings who want nothing more than for their lives to be subsidized by Big Brother government. This is why Biden is still pushing for college loan forgiveness. Just complete an utter weakness. A couple of weeks ago, well let me back up. I grew up I grew up just outside of the Austin area in a sleepy town called round Rogers sleeping in it's no longer sleepy. But back then it was essentially really just famous for being a pretty important stop on the Chisholm Trail where the, the ranchers and the Cowboys drove their their cattle up north, through through Fort Worth, and eventually up into Kansas. So but today, it's a I mean, is a booming suburb of of Austin, and it's supported by Dell computer that their headquarters is their massive hospital systems or they're just outside a few miles away is a ginormous Tesla plant. So, technology, innovation, all kinds of economic booms have occurred in the Greater Austin, excuse me in Greater Austin area. And the Round Rock is a fantastic place to raise a family so it has it's exploded. But when I was growing up, Austin had this quasi hippie but very authentic, unique culture. There were amazing music venues like South Park meadows and tones and it's were iconic. I mean, truly iconic legends like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Janis Joplin mean this is where they they hit it big. They grew up in the music exceeding there and then they they hit a big it again back when I was growing up in the place in the 80s and 90s. It was the melting pot of like Lance Armstrong cycling and outdoor culture, state government, politics and kind of that Keep Austin weird spirit is all coming together. And so for years now, the Democrat local government and mayor, city council, county leadership, and many others the Democrat local government has been kind of on this bow down to the woke mob crusade and the George Floyd, Black Lives Matter. disruptions and chaos and riots of the last several years has really been a catalyst for some of those policies to stick including defunding the police and remaking the city to be really more focused on tearing down institutions instead of building up communities. Well, a couple of weeks ago, there was a very violent and kind of scary wave of street racing and street riding across the city. The incidents ended up injuring a police officer and Austin police officer and a damaged several police vehicles. Even Congressman chip Roy a true conservative firebrand weighed in saying, quote, Austin is heading down a dangerous road. I apologize to the APD officers who have to put up with this crap, only to have city leaders play games with your contract. Hashtag stand up for America. From k x and news in Austin. overnight and investigation launched after street racing blocked off at intersection in downtown Austin and couldn't possibly lead to a shooting. Take a look at this video. You can see people walking toward police on foot. They're walking toward that police car on Lamar streets and actually caused it to retreat. They even shot fireworks at the patrol car. A witness was a near at a nearby establishment and told our crew that they saw cars doing donuts in the intersection of Lamar and Barton Springs. They also say traffic was backed up in every direction really making it hard for police to get to the scene. We couldn't believe the cops didn't show up for like 30 to 40 minutes. But I don't think they could get here because traffic was backed up on every street in every direction. And when the cops finally did show up, it took a while for them to have any sort of presence. It was pretty unreal. Well, that one is also told, also said that people were being hit by cars as they perform stunts and drove on the wrong side of the road to get away from police once they did finally arrive on scene. It was also said there was also a shooting in that same timeframe during those cars doing street racing. We did reach out to APD. But we have not heard back yet. But as soon as we know anything, we'll keep you updated here on air as well as online. Did you hear what that reporter said in that clip? She said this could have led to a shooting. The left media is always trying to spin a narrative that presumes the actions of the police are going to be nefarious and corrupt. I mean, why didn't she say something like this riot put the lives of our officers in great danger and that their calm response is what led to an eventual de escalation. These people are clowns, the NR kiss and the media. It doesn't take much to draw the conclusions on what the near term impacts are with defunding the police slow response times. Crime rate increases, less experienced officers on the streets, retention issues on the force, disengage law enforcement, destruction of property destruction of life increase in a backlog of unsolved cases and on and on and on. But what really are the long term effects? And to be honest, we don't fully know yet since many of these ridiculous socialist communist leftist Democrat policies that these liberal cities are putting in place like Austin, San Francisco, LA Chicago port Linn, Minneapolis many others, those policies are still in flight. And the cities are still hacking away trying to reimagine public safety. Last week, however, the city of Seattle announced that it will pay millions of dollars to settle a lawsuit with homeowners and businesses who were impacted during those George Floyd riots. If you recall, the city of Seattle, thank goodness, it was. I mean, he was constantly on the news. It was ridiculous what was going on there. But the city of Seattle allowed the Black Lives Matter and other anarchist groups to actually take over parts of their city. Remember, chop, and Chaz chop was Capitol Hill occupied protests. Capitol Hill is the neighborhood that part of Seattle and it eventually was renamed, renamed by these idiots who were overtaking the city. And so now I guess we got to call it what they're referred to it as, but they renamed it Capitol Hill autonomous autonomous zone, or Chaz, who is basically a bunch of hoodlums who set up shop and created a government free zone. And what happened, exactly what you would expect. They threw rocks bottles, fireworks shined lasers in the eyes of police officers and helicopters, drug paraphernalia, drug exchanges and deals were going down all over. I mean, he's recorded on videos, public displays of of intercourse, beatings, buildings were destroyed, and shootings occurred. One that killed a 16 year old boy, and another one that that critically injured a 14 year old. And so the thing that blew me away was what happened next. So you would think though the police would move in the mayor would tell the police or you wouldn't even have to tell the police. You just think the leadership of the police department would say we gotta roll on this. Nope. That didn't shut it down. They didn't move in. Well, maybe the governor, Jay Inslee, maybe he'll do something. Even President Trump tweeted to him, telling him he he needed to do something maybe he would send in the National Guard. Nope. Didn't happen. The fools kept on destroying things. But eventually, when they started to run out of food, shelter, and feces and human waste all over the place. Then they decided to negotiate with city officials and kind of dissolved and really, no one was held accountable. They all just got to walk home. Go back to mom and dad's basement. smoke a joint on their way. It's pitiful. Well, the city just announced that it has settled a lawsuit$3.65 million lawsuit with homeowners and and business owners. And that includes$600,000 in penalties for the deletion of 1000s of texts by city leaders including the former mayor Jenny Durkin herself. And the thing that just chaps My heart is that it is still the citizens who suffer. That money didn't just grow on trees. The city didn't print more money. Although, you know, Biden probably would have done it for them. But that money had to come from somewhere. That money is just taxpayer dollars being redistributed to sort out bad public policies and bad public officials. So today, we have a unique opportunity to talk directly with someone who has been on the public policy front lines trying to change the lawlessness in Democrat run cities. So Maverick Kubiak is an Austin and a DC political consultant. I mean, he's president of Potomac Strategy Group. Er, which provides consulting to conservative campaigns, media relations, crisis communications. Matt's worked in a wide variety of of senior roles. He's worked with US Senators worked in, worked in the Bush administration worked with governors. And he currently serves as the GOP chairman in Travis County. And in 2020. Matt helped launch save Austin now, which is a very important organization here in Texas that has a mission of improving the standard of living for all residents in the Austin area and save Austin now, actually, past reinstatement of the homeless camping ban, which was huge for Austin. So, Matt, welcome to the show. Hey, Ben, great to be with you. Thanks for having me. Yeah, you bet. So I take a lot of heat from folks for always getting Aggies on on the show. And I've been promising some people that I that I'd eventually get a Longhorn. So I don't want to say that you're the token Longhorn. But you're definitely the first. So you got to represent now. All right, excellent. So well, I want to get right into it and discuss with you the lawlessness that we're that we're seeing in our Democrat run cities, and really, in spite of it, the continued push from the left to essentially remove the ranks of the thin blue line. And you know, even even though those lawlessness exists, that they continue to push for this. defund the police movement. I mean, it seems kind of counterintuitive, but big picture, why is this really happening? Why are we seeing this? Yeah, I mean, it's been fairly tragic to see this happen in 10, or 12 major cities around the United States over the last five years, last three, four years really? You know, to blip Look, obviously, no, no organization is perfect. There are going to be bad employees in any organization. We have very clear laws on what police officers are allowed to do what they're not allowed to do. I don't have any doubt that decades ago, you know, police misconduct and brutality may not have been certainly was not handled serious with the kind of seriousness it deserved. You could look at Los Angeles in the 50s or 60s, even San Francisco back then. Certainly the the Rodney King riots, that timeframe. In LA, other cities, other major cities, Chicago, New York, they've all had these problems. But you know, I think for most Americans, whether you're on the center, right, the center, even the center left, you recognize that without policing, you have anarchy. And what's clear is that police abolitionists, on the far, far far left, use the George Floyd killing, which was illegal, which led to a I believe a lifetime sentence if it's not a lifetime sentence 30 or 40 years for that police officer. He's that incident to try to achieve their political goals, which have been to kneecap police departments across the country with a misguided belief that the tracking in arresting and prosecuting criminals for for, for committing crimes is in some way, fundamentally racist. I sort of rejected the concept that any organization has systemic racism. Organizations are made up of individuals, individuals can be racist. Most men, individuals aren't in my experience, but racism is a learned behavior. We see this there have been numerous studies over the years about how small children don't see race as an issue. Nobody's born racist, it's something over time. And so can we improve training? Can we improve accountability? Can we improve oversight? I think most people, reasonable people think the answer to that is yes. But when you when you undermine the police the way we have, when you you know, take a take a broad axe to their budget, when you make it impossible to retain impossible to recruit impossible for them to do their jobs. The tragic consequence of that band is that you get you know, a city where the people that these left wing organizations say they care most about the marginalized. The economically challenged minority voters in poor areas, minority citizens and poor areas. They're the ones generally that are that are paying the price for longer response times for inadequate staffing, and I'm on one call centers for crimes that are not going investigated, not going prosecuted and not leading in convictions. crime goes up in bad areas, when there are fewer police. It eventually goes to all areas but it always starts in the poor areas. And so that's really the tragic consequence what we've seen across since your last five years, I mean, I mean, this really isn't then a partisan issue. It's that there are some loud, powerful few who are manipulating many to drive these these bad outcomes for our communities. It's not really a left versus right, is it? Well, I think that's generally correct. I mean, I don't I've never viewed this issue as Republican versus Democrat. Of course, in most cities, you have nonpartisan elections. And and, you know, elected officials are not members of a party, there's no primary. You know, I think that probably 80% of people in a given city want enough police to make their city safe and oppose efforts to defund the police. So I do. I will point out, though, I think among the Democratic Party, some of their elected officials at the national level have made it sound like defund the property from the police is that it's a bad slogan. I don't care what you call it. It's not the slogan that matters. It's not the communications that matters. It's what it's doing to hollow out our police ranks. You know, when you defund a police department, that can that can have immediate consequences. It happens very quickly. Officers leave, you can cancel Cadet classes, you can cancel positions, you can cut budgets significantly, we saw, you know, 10 or 12 major American cities do that after George Floyd including Austin. It takes multiple years to replace the people that you lose. You cannot just hire a police officer tomorrow and they start tomorrow. Not even if they're a police officer, another city. Every city has Cadet classes for newark new recruits, it's an investment. And they also have a modified classes for people who have law enforcement experience military, police officers sheriff's in other jurisdictions. So in Austin, for example, and I think these numbers are probably broadly similar in most major cities. It's seven, eight months of courtroom work and coursework in terms of your Cadet class. It's one to two months of field work. And then and then you have I believe, it's a one year probationary period, it might be six months. And it depends on if you're in contract or not as to what the number is, but But either way, let's say it's the lowest on both on all those ends, right? Seven months, plus six months, plus, plus six months, excuse me, seven months plus one month, plus six months, I mean, you're at 14 months, before someone can become a full police officer who's no longer on probation, who's a, you know, a sworn officer. And so, and of course, that's once the cadet class starts, it takes them to three months to recruit for a cadet class, right? So you're talking about a year and a half to replace even one officer who leaves and you can have officers leave, you know, almost immediately when cities take these actions. Yeah, I you know, one of the the slogans and the issues that bubbled up here in Texas over the last handful of years was that the failed attempt to reimagine the Alamo. And that word gets used again around law enforcement, reimagine law enforcement. And it it really isn't about reimagining it's about hollowing out the ranks redistribution of taxpayer dollars tort like everybody would agree. We all want caseworkers, we all want psychologists on the police force, we all want better outreach between public servants and the communities all that is a good thing. But there are some very basic principles within each of our communities around providing safety and security and and you can't do any of the other things. If you're not doing that. And you you really cannot reimagine as an either or it can be an end, but it can't be an either or. Yeah, I mean, in Austin, you know, this started with what they call reimagining public safety. And they had this idea that that basically, you can reduce the number of police officers you need if you do things like use social workers and mental health professionals. And look, I don't necessarily believe that a police officer needs to respond in every single situation. Right. But But ultimately, if if a situation threatens the public or threatens other individuals is a public safety issue, you absolutely need enough police to be able to respond. In fact, one of the things we've learned over the last few years during the social experiment in Austin is that social workers oftentimes do or even mental health professionals don't want to respond in a call unless police officers with them. Now again, it may be that you have that social worker or that mental health professional take the lead. If someone is obviously not on their medication or they're becoming potentially dangerous or they're depressed or something like that. A mental health professional is probably going to have better expertise in that area than the average police officer. But, but we all know that individuals who may have mental health challenges are going through the problems can become violent. Right in So again, it gets to the question of do you have enough police officers for the city? that you're that you're that you're in? And I can tell you in Austin right now we're at 1995 staffing levels, meaning we have the same number police officers, sworn officers who are active available for duty today that we had 9095. I mean, Ben, you've lived in Austin for a long time, like I have. It's hard to even remember what Austin was like in 1995, we were probably a third maybe half the size we are now. You know, very, very significant city in terms of the way the city functions. We didn't have a global events we have now, we didn't know Major League Soccer. We didn't have multiple downtown areas like the domain like, like Rainey Street, like West six. Now the list goes on and on. So you know, can we quibble about whether it's 1.8 officers per 1000? Population? Or two or 2.2? Can you try different models? Is it appropriate for mayors and city council's and city managers to negotiate those things and debate them and figure out what budget makes sense in terms of other priorities? Sure. But to your core point, public safety is foundational. And, you know, you know, one of the reasons we have a federal government's provide for the common defense, actually, I think one of the reasons we have cities and counties is to provide for the common defense to, it's not a military necessarily, it's a domestic law enforcement force. But if you cannot respond to critical incidents, if you can't have specialized units, which we don't have now, we don't have a Sex Crimes Unit, we don't have an anti gang task force, we don't have a motorcycle traffic enforcement unit, or lake Patrol has been decimated, the list goes on and on. The reason you have those units, is because those those are detectives, primarily working in those units who don't do calls for service, they're not out there responding to every little thing they are they are running down leads and trying to close cold cases. And if you don't have that, right, then what you would then what you have to have is you have to have a police officer catch someone during a call for service while they're committing a crime. And so if the crimes already been committed, and you don't have specialized units, then you're going to close 5% or 10% of cases. And so that's what's happening right now, not only we will do not have enough police officers to respond. And so response rates, response times have gone up, we have a staffing crisis. And that is one call center. That's happening concurrently. But you also have a situation we've emboldened criminals. We have criminal networks that have come here. They know response times are increasing. They know there aren't any specialized units. In fact, I've been told by law enforcement that there's only one police officer in the entire Austin Police Department that handles a car theft ban, there's probably, I would guess, 10 to 20 car thefts a day in Austin. And you can just look on your own next door and whatever neighborhood you live in, if you live in Austin or any city or in catalytic converter theft, outright theft, damage, theft of property inside vehicles. I mean, can you imagine what that poor detective is doing? How he's possibly, you know, taking on a pile of paperwork that's growing every day that he can look ahead? I mean, I mean, there's there's a workload component to this. Certainly, there's a demoralizing factor that will eventually take its toll. But I saw that video of the street racing from a week or so ago. And there's that, you know, that one patrol car that's completely surrounded, trying to drive in reverse having fireworks thrown at it. At some point. It's a personal safety issue, too. I just don't, no question. No, I just appreciate this. How difficult this is for those officers. Yeah, and one of the tragedies of the staffing crisis that we're in now is they are generally not responding with two officers, you only really have one officer per vehicle instead of two. You know, buddy system works when you're in elementary school, and it works when you're in police, a police officer, your last you know, if you have two people, one of them makes a bad decision, the other person is there to help correct it or prevent it or anticipate it, or or deescalate a situation, you have a witness that's there. You obviously are watching each other's back. It's safer for both of them. And you obviously have, you know, larger areas of terrain that you can cover with two officers than with one. So just in case anyone out there doesn't know what happened, I guess it was three or four Saturdays ago. We had a I guess a street takeover occur in four different locations across our city. These are these sorts of street racing incidents. The one that got the most attention was at Lamar and Barton Springs where they overtook a major intersection. And, and you only had one one officer who was able to respond in a timely fashion was he timely fashion, I don't mean three minutes, I mean, 20 to 30 minutes. He arrived by himself, he was quickly and circled. You know, five or 10 people surrounding a cop car can do almost anything they want to to a police vehicle, if they want, they can pull that person out, they can break windows, they can light it on fire, you know, there's any number of things you could do. Thankfully, rather than ramming that crowd and creating, you know, a real tragic situation, he was able to think quickly and back away and he, he basically he barely got out. So number one, not only was his liberty and his life at risk, but it's not just that you had to sheriff's vehicles that were badly damaged, including I think, I believe, sir of personnel who were who are in Are you at a firetruck that the crowd would not allow to get in? And you had several individuals that were part of the street racing teams that caught on fire. Presumably, that was unintentional. And of course, on top of all that they're overtaking an intersection A major intersection, which is causing tremendous disruption to people who live in those areas. So we are really lucky, Ben that we have not had, I'll tell you what my nightmare scenario for Austin is, it is parallel critical incidents happening at the same time. And you don't have to have the mind of Tom Clancy to think of a situation where that can happen. You know, we have South by Southwest coming up. We have global events like f one and ACL. We have home football games, where 102,000 people are at the stadium. For three hours, we have Major League Soccer, where you have whatever it is 15 to 20,000 people. If you had you know, if you had an incident at the Major League Soccer Stadium, at the same time you had an incident downtown, we would not have enough officers probably to respond to even one of those incidents, and certainly not both. And of course, while that's happening, you have other things happening across the city, domestic violence incidents, other incidents of violence, theft, you name it, right. So you know, the 11th largest in the country cannot pretend it's a small town anymore. We cannot have a police force. That's the size that we were in 1995. It simply doesn't work logon. And this is I mean, this isn't just a fantasy. It's not Tom Clancy. I mean, we've seen it everywhere for the better part of a decade. Now social media enables the lawlessness to pop up in pockets and spread. And, you know, if there's nobody does to stretch, then then there's nobody to stretch and get anywhere. And so I mean, that is a very realistic threat, and would absolutely be be a concern. Often people talk about, you know, just the public safety aspects of defund the police. There's clearly huge economic impacts that occur with this, not just with eventually trying to scale back up the investment that's needed to get your law enforcement and public service teams to where they need to be. But we just saw a couple of weeks ago, Seattle had to pay restitution for what occurred there with businesses and homeowners during that whole chop incident during the George Floyd riots. I mean, it, it happens, there are consequences. And of course, the taxpayers are on the hook for that that isn't just, you know, magic money that comes out of the city, I mean, that those are taxpayer dollars, fixing the issues of of, you know, ineffective leaders. So where's Austin, on the spectrum of starting to pull back and correct maybe some of the sins of the recent past? Well, I had some cause for optimism until the last month. And the reason for that is we had elections, and we elected what I what I expected and believe was a more moderate mayor, who ran on a pro public safety platform. And the timing was a little bit awkward, because when he came in, they were 10 months into negotiating another labor contract between the police union and the city. The city manager was able to successfully negotiate a four year labor contract with the police union. The council has reacted extremely negatively to that. They tried to force the union to do a one year extension, which was never discussed, never negotiated, never on the table, never realistic. And so now we are, you know, something like 28 days away as we sit here, from our please contract expiring. They have taken a temporary action to provide a modest 3% pay, raise, protect accrued sick time payouts, and then also add some oversight provisions, which which may or may not be legally enforceable. The problem then is and we predicted this last few weeks is that we've already had something like 60 officers retire just in the last month. And, you know, we're gaining 50 or 60 officers every let's call it 1314 months, when Cadet classes continue now where they're going to apparently allow for some concurrent classes this year. So it may start to pick up a little bit but but the problem is, is that we're not we haven't been flat, we've been going down and down and down and down for two and a half years now. We're roughly let's call it three and 50. Officers short, when the council voted in September 2020, to cut 1/3 of the police budget. We have something like 230 vacancies, something like 90% of all police ships are not fully staffed. And so you have officers going into staff particular ships, who are covering longer, larger distances with less backup with longer response times being put a greater risk. So more than likely we're going to run out or we're going to run out of our contract. The end of March will be out of contract for some time. There is an ordinance on the two ordinances on the ballot related oversight in May. At the end of the day. The only way we got to this crisis we have to get back on it to contract, and we have to massively ramp up recruiting and then be able to retain the officers that we have. And so at the moment, no, I wish I had reason for hope. There's nothing I would love more than to give you some good news and be positive about it. But I think things are gonna get worse in the short term. The question is how long that short term is, if we're just talking a couple of months, how long has survived that if we're talking two years, which is what the police union expects, we won't be on a contract for two years. No police cadet? Nope, no solid recruit, is going to come to Austin, knowing everything that they know right now. Without a police contract in place, because there are benefits aren't protected, they aren't protected in any way. I mean, no, no councilmember would have run for that office if they didn't have a four year term if they had a one year term, or temporary term. So you know, so unfortunately, you know, violent crimes up through through the roof. Most calls that go to 911. Now are being routed to 311 been through and one's like a suggestion box. I mean, they don't answer that phone. You know, you're talking days and days and days before someone even listens to your message, weeks and weeks before someone is able to respond. So I don't even really at this point, trust all the crime stats, because so many things are not going reported. And according responded to the only staff they can't monkey with his homicides. It's one of the reasons that we focus so much on homicides, not only is it a very serious crime, you know, which has profound ramifications, but it's the only one they can't manipulate. And so we've set in the last three years, we've set to modern day homicide records, we did come down last year, thankfully. But right now Austin is unsafe, and it's getting more and more unsafe and the police's ability to do the job we've asked them to do where they risk their lives is becoming more and more and more impossible. And I think that's really tragic. And so that's why we fight as hard as we do. It's a Boston now. And it's it's difficult, right? It's a tough, tough road to hoe I now currently live just outside of Harris County, paid very close attention to the latest elections in November. Clearly public safety played a role in moving the needle some, but not a lot. And it still remains a Democrat run County. The Democrats gained an additional county commissioners seat. And so where's the breaking point? Where will will do you see a point in the future in which the voters and Austin will say enough is enough? And we're going to turn out at the polls and make a stand with our vote? Yeah, that's a great question. And you're right, crime was a huge issue at Houston. And cancer ran on that, on that on that platform came up short. You know, there are questions about how that election was was conducted related to paper ballot availability, and other things. But, you know, it's not it's not a situation where we have nothing but despair. You know, in Chicago, just on Tuesday of this week, the mayor there was did not even make the run off first time in 40 years, and come on mayor did not get reelected in Chicago. Now Chicago's crime situation, I think is well beyond Austin and Houston at the moment. Right. But that's because they started earlier than we did. And they have they have, you know, they've been really, I think, fundamentally unserious about public safety for a long time. You know, in Austin, our elections for municipal races are in November of even numbered years. And so it's a very democratic city. The Democratic organizations and the elected officials are generally pretty closely aligned. It's going to take moderate Democrats demanding in supporting pro public safety candidates in democratic blue cities for things to change. I do think that it can change we saw the District Attorney in San Francisco recalled, we saw a moderate mayor in Seattle elected who I recently had a chance to visit with about in the last six months, we saw the Chicago Mayor not reelected. And in fact, as bad as things may be in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio, they are nowhere near as bad as they are in Austin. And the reason for that is Dallas, Houston San Antonio never defunded their police. While while there may be reasonable criticisms of the mayors and the county judges in those areas on a range of issues, they have all been in my view far more supportive of public safety than what we've seen in Austin. Austin is the only city that that cuts police force. In fact, when it did, that cut, that percentage cut was the largest of any major city in America, New York, Seattle, Portland, Chicago, San Francisco, those cities all defunded their police in the eight to 15% range. We did it by 1/3. Had we not passed bipartisan legislation at the legislature. Eight months later that punish cities that defunded their police, that money would still be out. They did put the money back in the following year, but they canceled 150 positions. They canceled they canceled two scheduled Cadet classes they delayed the graduation of the existing Cadet class. And so because of that, we never have made up that hole. And so what's happened is the money may be there. But we're losing on average 15 officers a month to to attrition to read the resignation. Right right. in retirement, and so we're only gaining 50 or 60, maybe in an in a calendar year, will you're losing 15 a month. I mean, you can do the math, you're losing 180 A year and you're gaining 60 a year. That's 120. Net, that you're losing every year. And that doesn't even account for the retirement spike that we just saw because of this labor contract dispute. So we are headed in the wrong direction. And Austin, we've got to have you asked how we're going to change things. People have to understand how unsafe cities are. And that has to be based on stats and data. That's real. We have to have people run for office who are credible candidates who understand public safety, who are going to be clear about what they're running on what they plan to do, how they plan to pay for it. And then you have to rally support and get and get people behind it. Look, public safety to me, I think is a is an issue where most people understand they either feel safe or they don't. And if they feel safe right now, and they're not safe, it's because they don't understand the situation that they're in. If they feeling unsafe, and they continue to vote for people that undermine public safety, then that's because we're not running good enough campaigns. We're not recruiting good enough candidates, we're not doing the communication we need to do to get that message across. So how concerned should Texans and Americans be who live in maybe rural communities or communities that are, you know, much stronger supporters of public safety and the police? How concerned should they be when they look at cities like Austin, Chicago and others? Yeah, so, you know, I think if you're a random, you know, rural county in the Panhandle or West Texas, you're not going to really be that affected by these, the city's the crazy things these cities are doing? I do think for suburban counties in around Austin, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and even maybe one county outside of that maybe kind of, you know, adjacent. Obviously, those areas are affected. And it's because, you know, these criminal networks are coming into cities, they're traveling, they're using highways, you know, and crime crime obviously doesn't follow a county line or a city limit sign or geographic boundary. There are corridors in Texas, right? The i 35 corridor is a major human trafficking, drug trafficking and sex trafficking corridor. And so I would probably say that, that if to the extent there are any rural counties, or or exurban counties along i 35, they're going to be at greater risk than then counties that are out in maybe way in East Texas or way in West Texas. Of course, the counties along the border are all at risk from what's going on there with the cartels and fentanyl and human trafficking and drug trafficking. So it does depend a little bit on where you are Ben. But you know, just because Austin, I mean, the fact that Austin is less safe now than I think it's ever been that has affected every other city in Travis County. It's affected all the counties that touched Travis County. We vote we don't really have a lot of rural counties that touched us at this point. But sure, I mean, it makes everyone else less safe, and it puts everyone else at greater risk. Obviously, it's incumbent upon County Sheriff's, police chiefs, mayors, they're doing everything they can to keep their people safe, and that they are dedicating the resources that they need. Given these, this increased risk of these increased threats. So tell us a little bit about save Austin now and what y'all are trying to do to move the needle on this issue? Yeah, so three years ago, I partnered as a local Republican in Austin with a local Democrat named clear Patrice ik, we started initially focused on the homeless camping issue, our city voted 92 in 2019, to allow open camping anywhere, anytime, anyplace with almost no exceptions, created chaos here in Austin almost overnight, we had to do two separate petition drives to get on the ballot. We eventually did. And we got on the ballot on May of 2020 21. And despite the opposition of nine out of 10, council members, the mayor, every democratic organization, every Democratic official in the local media here, we passed reinstatement of the camping Ban 1542. That was just that was a Waterloo moment for Austin, I think we lost that I don't know that we would have been able to rescue the trajectory that we were on. So we've we've stayed focused on that issue. And it's not that we want homeless people in jail, we just want to stop pretending like people camp, you know, under a bridge or in a green space or on a sidewalk is in some way compassionate or helpful or positive for them. We want them receiving services, we want them to be case managed. We want them on a mental health treatment plan. We want them sober. We want them working. We want them to have their children in school. These are the kinds of things that anyone should want. And that's hopefully the system we're going to continue moving towards. We're not perfect. It's not being fully enforced, but it is better than it was. So that's one issue. We quickly realized that without enough police officers you can't afford the property, which is what we passed in May of 2021. So we did turn around very quickly four months after property passed in May of 2021 and tried to overturn defund the police. The effects of defund the police with Prop A. The other side raised 95% of their money from outside the state of Texas. They demagogue this pretty effectively, and they ended up beating us 6040. If that had succeeded, we would be at 2.0 police officers per 1000 population and we would have doubled police training, we would have required a minimum of 1/3 uncommitted time so that officers would be doing community policing, we would have been in a lightyears ahead of where we are now. We continue to work to improve standard of living. We do that through the issue of public safety, the issue of homelessness, we're also looking at issues like accountability and transportation and affordability, where we have specific ideas. So we advocate the council, we try to rally public support or opposition to good ideas or bad ideas. And then we put things on the ballot and try to pass ordinances and charter amendments. And that's what we do. We're the largest grassroots organization Austin, we have 63,000 email addresses, we've raised probably $4 million over the last three and a half years, we have massive social platforms, 1000 volunteers, we're proud of what we've done. But we've got a lot more work to do. Austin is still heading in the wrong direction, and maybe is heading in the wrong direction at slightly slower speed than it was a year ago. But we got to turn things around. It's becoming really unaffordable for most people, our transportation infrastructure is wholly inadequate. We have no accountability, no knowledge of where tax dollars are going or what we're getting for it. And as we said before the homeless situation in the public safety situation are rapidly worsening. I love it. I love the fact that you know, the challenges and the hills are steep. But y'all are working hard to try to turn the tide. And it's not about Republican or Democrat, coming together as community members to try to tackle these shared issues and deliver some shared outcomes. I mean, that is that's what we all want as as Texans and as Americans, that's, that's absolutely what we want to be doing so. So we've got moms and dads listen to this podcast, one of the things we try to do is leave them with some ways that they can get engaged some ways that they can, from their vantage point, busy schedules, juggling kid activities work all kinds of things. How can they help? So what are your thoughts or ideas on how they could get involved? Yeah, look, I think everyone can do something, I reject unless you're a single mother working three jobs, I'm sympathetic to that person situation. But most people can do something. Does that mean you can start your own save Austin now and your own city, maybe not. But but you can support organizations that are doing good work, you can volunteer, you can follow your own city council meetings. If you can't be there, you can watch online or you can least read news coverage. If you don't know who your city council member is, or your mayor, or your state representative or your state senator or your member of Congress. And when most people generally don't know most of those things, I would I would argue that that you're not probably engaged at the level that you need to be there making decisions that affects you every day. And if you are not a number one educated about what's happening, but number two engaged, then you're not going to have an opportunity to have your voice be heard. And so, you know, number one, I think we have to communicate with our elected officials more what's actually happening in our communities, what are we seeing, what are we feeling? What do we need? How do we make life better? If you're not communicating with elected officials, then they don't know how you feel. But everyone can do something, whether that's run for office, whether that's helped someone running for office, whether that's getting involved in a trade association in the industry that you work in, whether that's attending your committee, your city council meeting, you know, whether it's supporting other organizations doing good work, everyone can do something. You know, it's clear when I started Steve Austin out with the belief that we do not believe these local issues should be partisan. These people are not elected on a partisan party line. They don't run in primaries, they're here to serve a local constituency. And they're handling local issues, which which deal with standard of living, state politics and national politics are very partisan, we understand that that's not going to change probably, at the local level should be about solving problems and should be about standard living. And that's what we've kept our focus on. And because we have one on one d, if we both agree on something, we believe that makes it nonpartisan, because neither side is getting a partisan advantage out of it. And so that's been a very valuable model for us at the local level. Of course, I'm a partisan, I'm Republican chair in Austin. So at the state and federal federal level, I engage in partisan activity and clear those two in her own way as well. But for us, we really think good and decent people just wants their living to improve. They want to be able to afford their home. They want to be able to have good schools, a safe city. You know, it shouldn't be too much to ask for the taxes that we pay. And so that's how we keep our focus on and that's what we that's what we work on every day. I love it. I love it. All right before I let you go, I know. I know you're a basketball fan. I know you follow the Longhorns. But if you had to fill out just one bracket and you couldn't pick the Longhorns to go all the way. Who's your pick this year in March Madness. Yeah. So it's it's a pretty wide open season in college basketball, watch a lot of basketball. I think there's 12 good teams out there. 12 or 15 teams, I think that could make could make the final four. You know, I think Houston and Alabama both appear to be maybe in a class by themselves. Houston, you know, had a great team last year as most of their team back. And Alabama is really, really deep and has really dominated the SEC. I like both of them, although they're both probably going to be one seeds. Outside of that. I mean, I almost think you could take 12 or 15 teams there and give them all basically an equal chance of being there. The big 12 is the strongest conference not just in the country this year, but but probably the strongest in the last 20 years based on the statistical methods that people use. You look at a&m, I mean, they've really come out of nowhere and have had a great season and I think they're gonna they're gonna maybe do some damage in the conference, excuse me, in the end March Madness have a chance to make the sweet 16. You know, good. Zach is someone you have to always contend with. So you know, we can see see if they're able to finally get back to a Final Four. But to me, I think Alabama and Houston are a cut above. And but seems like Kansas teams like Texas, Gonzaga are going to have an opportunity to UCLA, Arizona, they're all going to have a chance to be there. But I think it's going to be a fascinating March Madness with some upsets, it's going to be really interesting. You know, I think you're I think you're right about that. There's quite a few that on any given day you feel like they can punch above their weight class and take somebody down. Take somebody down. I mean, I think I think it will be a wild like brackets are gonna get busted all over the place early. Yeah, it's gonna it's gonna be Well, the reason I think the big 12 is so strong is they're gonna get eight teams, maybe nine teams. Yeah, they've all had tough schedules, you know, winning World Games in conferences, brutal. They all play good defense defense travels in March Madness. So I think there's a chance you could have five, four or five big 12 teams in the sweet 16 Which would be borderline unprecedented. But again, you know, March Madness comes down who's hot, who shoots well, and matchups, it always comes down to matchups. Certain teams may be really good in certain styles. But you'll look at Purdue I mean, I'm I didn't mention Purdue and they've had some losses last couple weeks. I mean, they have a seven six center, you know who's the dominant player in college? If you can solve that riddle, then you can beat them and if you can't, but I think Purdue has a good chance to be in the Final Four as well. So it's gonna be fascinating. Yeah, it's gonna it's gonna be wild. All right, so we're, we're putting it down that you're, you're a tweener between Bama and the Cougs. Then as your non Longhorn pig, so that's right. Well, look, Matt, thanks again for being here with us. I mean, I learned a lot. I'm sure our listeners did as well. It's great to hear that there are folks out there doing what they can and trying to turn the tide. So Matt Kodiak again. Thank you so much for being here. Absolutely. Yeah, but by best you guys in Harris County take care of thanks for having me. Thank you so much for listening. As always, you can email me your thoughts to Ben at Ben armenta.com. I want to give a huge shout out to Matt McCovey, AK again, follow him on Twitter at Matt McCovey act, and subscribe to his publication must read Texas for all the latest happenings on Texas and US politics. share this episode with your family and friends. And let's grow the community of conservative fighters. Until next time, thank you again. God bless the answer with Ben Armenta is sponsored by the kickin crab, the latest and greatest Cajun concept to hit the southwest. They offer down home flavors and it's one of those places where you're gonna want to take the kids no plates just good times brought to you by folks that have strong conservative values. Like you and me. Visit them off of Highway six in Houston or at the kickin crab.com