“The City’s top job is public safety, and they are failing. Yesterday’s tragic murder is the most recent example.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted this firm statement on January 4, 2020 after a homeless man with a criminal history of violence murdered a restaurant employee Friday morning in south Austin.
You are exactly right.
I’m not attacking homelessness.
The City’s top job is public safety and they are failing.
Yesterday’s tragic murder is the most recent example. https://t.co/PMtGOmoYBM
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) January 4, 2020
Abbott took the Austin City Council to task for their controversial homeless policies that have created significant public safety risks.
“I’m not attacking homelessness. I’m criticizing the lawlessness promoted by the City of Austin,” Abbott tweeted. “The City of Austin must ensure its homeless policy doesn’t endanger the lives of innocent people—and the lives of the homeless.”
As Jacob Asmussen of Texas Scorecard noted, this entire controversy started back in June when the Austin City Council legalized the ability for vagrants to camp in public spaces across the city. In the blink of an eye, Austin residents witnessed their streets, sidewalks, and highways filled with campsites, trash, and tent cities.
This decision was met with fierce pushback from the public, which motivated law enforcement and elected officials to criticize the policy. Further, 55,000 citizens signed a petition demanding city council to repeal this ordinance. During the summer, citizens vigorously protested at townhalls, with some “ testifying to the harmful consequences of the law and angry that registered sex offenders were among those now allowed to sleep directly next to apartments and elementary schools.”
After fourth months of public backlash and a public warning from Abbott over public safety risks, the council reconvened in October and amended their policy, but they only ended up lifting a few parts of it.
Abbott was annoyed by the Austin City Council’s inaction and proceeded to send Texas Department of Transportation agents to clean up encampments under highways and help get homeless individuals sent off to nonprofits for immediate assistance.
The city of Austin is starting to set a series of bad precedents in terms of governance.
Although it has grown considerably thanks to its robust tech sector, its progressivism has clouded the judgment of its policymakers.
If it doesn’t take action to reign in the homeless situation, it will only beget further problems down the line.
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