Austin's new City Manager Spencer Cronk gives update on Police Chief and contract

- "First of all I'm thrilled to finally be here.  It's been a busy first week on the job," said Austin's new City Manager Spencer Cronk on Tuesday.

Busy indeed.  Cronk, hailing from Minneapolis, sat in on council's work session last week and the big "paid sick leave" discussion that divided the business community, conflicted Council Members and lasted until nearly 1 am.

And that's just what he did on Tuesday and Thursday.

Cronk says he's looking forward to working with the community and he'll be rolling out an engagement plan in the coming weeks

"They include our cultural communities, they include our religious leaders, our faith-based leaders, our neighborhood organizations, our business community and our city employees," Cronk said.

Cronk says he'll ask every group 3 questions.

"What are those special things that need to be retained as our city grows and conversely what are the things that should change?" Cronk said.

The second question is what their hopes are for Austin's future.

"And the third question is 'what advice do you have for me?'  I am a newcomer to Austin and I'll be learning a lot about the unique culture that is our city," Cronk said.

One burning question is about vacant positions.

Interim Police Chief Brian Manley has been filling in after Art Acevedo left for Houston...and Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr is retiring.  Two major jobs that need filling and Cronk is the man to do it.  

Will Manley be a shoe-in for "top cop" or does Cronk want to bring in someone new?  He says the process of filling those spots hasn't started just yet.

"It is not underway other than the fact that I've started to get feedback from community members and different stakeholders to help inform my decision in terms of the framework for developing hat process," Cronk said.

At last week's council meeting, Council voted to go back to the bargaining table with the Austin Police Association.  Negotiations about a new contract with the city broke down in December so it expired.

The City Manager says that process is underway.

"It certainly is a priority.  And to start that process we have initiated scheduling a meeting with the association," Cronk said.

So basically Cronk is in the "listening to the community and engaging with stakeholders" phase...but he says he knows Austin wants to see action too.

"There's a lot of things that Austin is dealing with and it's important that we don't just talk about things for months and years ahead that we actually start making decisions about how we want to move forward as a city," Cronk said.

Cronk says if you have any questions for him you can e-mail him at spencer.cronk@austintexas.gov

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