By Mayor Adler and Mike Bloomberg
Three years ago, Austin City Council made an ambitious pledge to have over 50 percent of its power come from renewable energy by 2025 — and to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. And last year, Austin Energy’s rate case settlement began to finance the shuttering of the coal-fired Fayette power plant. All the while, Austin has become one of the fastest-growing economies in the U.S.
Switching to clean energy has been an important part of this success, and many other cities and towns are following the same strategy. Of course, as with any major innovation, the proliferation of clean energy has led to job shifts. The coal industry, in particular, has faced growing challenges in the face of this progress.
By Mayor Adler
For decades, the Texas Legislature has been a backseat driver, second guesser and insufferable micromanager to Austin. Now, our Legislature and governor have crossed the line by imperiling our most basic freedoms. Not only did state lawmakers recently pass the governor’s sanctuary city bill that went way beyond federal immigration law, but the Texas attorney general just filed suit against me and others for speaking out against it.
We speak out because, if this law goes into effect, Austin and other Texas cities will be forced to make our communities less safe. And we’re speaking out even though this new law would, incredibly enough, allow our state attorney general to remove local elected officials from office if they endorse a different policy, even one that’s in accordance with federal immigration law.
Austin is one of the safest cities in the country, largely because our police focus on keeping all of us safe regardless of where we come from or how we got here. And it’s not just us; cities with similar policies toward immigrants have lower crime rates, higher household income rates and lower unemployment rates. What we do works!
The new Texas sanctuary city law undoes that. Police tell us that the fear that they might ask about immigration status has already made people less willing to report crimes, undoing years of work to establish trust with our immigrant communities. Continue reading
On May 4, the Council will be able to take several big steps forward on implementing the mobility bond approved last November. Of note are three interlocal agreements with TxDOT for Loop 360, 620 & 2222, and Parmer Lane in which Austin’s putting up a total of $70.5 million and TxDOT will contribute an estimated $227.9 million.
We’re also getting started right away on sidewalks, urban trails, bike paths, and safety improvements at dangerous intersections and near schools, and we’re hiring the team that will plan and implement the rest of the bond. Continue reading
By Mayor Adler
On Tuesday, I’m joining a few mayors in Washington, DC, to ask Attorney General Jeff Sessions what is turning out to be a complicated question: What exactly is a “sanctuary city?” With so much on the line, including federal funding, public safety, and relations with immigrant communities, mayors need to know what is meant by a term being used by a lot of people to mean many different things.
In January, the President offered his definition in an Executive Order that cut off federal grants from jurisdictions that “willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373.” That’s a federal law covering communication between government agencies. Since Austin communicates freely with federal agencies and does not violate this law, it wouldn’t seem we’re a sanctuary city. But we are nervous.
Alleged non-compliance with 8 U.S.C. 1373 was the reason the Attorney General sent letters on Friday to Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Miami, Milwaukee, New York, Cook County, Illinois, and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The letters asked for proof that they were communicating with immigration agents lest they lose federal grants to help local governments pay for things such as equipment, training, and data collection.
In effect, these are the first officially designated “sanctuary cities.” Austin and Travis County were not among them, but it is not clear whether that has any significance or if only a sample of such cities were listed. What the Justice Department did on Friday raises more questions, but by not being clear why some cities were named and why others such as Austin were not, it fails to answer the original question: What is a “sanctuary city”? Continue reading