Council rejects Antonio Buehler for Public Safety Commission
Austin City Council members listened to speakers for and against the nomination of Antonio Buehler to serve on the city's Public Safety Commission.
Buehler, 37, started the Peaceful Streets Project and is an outspoken critic of the Austin Police Department.
The vote before council Thursday was over whether to waive a requirement that people nominated to serve on city boards and commissioners should live within city limits.
Councilmembers Don Zimmerman, Greg Casar and Ellen Troxclair voted to grant the wavier for Buehler. Without enough support it failed. If the wavier had passed then a second vote would have been needed to approve or deny Buehler's nomination.
Zimmerman nominated Buehler. "He would have done a great job representing another point of view that would be the voice for people who have been wrongfully prosecuted," said Zimemrman. "We're obviously disappointed and interesting how Austin rags about being a city of diversity and inclusion and yet they find ways to not include people and we saw that this morning."
As the agenda item started Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday played some of Buehler's videos. "The council has been asked to consider an appointment of a person who doesn't believe there should be a department," said Casaday.
While APA pushed for the council to reject Buehler's nomination support for the activist echoed through chambers.
"I'm speaking in support of Antonio Buehler's nomination. I want you to know I don't always agree with him and if you've seen the videos I don't think it's always the right thing to do," said Dawn Young who believes Buehler's voice would be important on the commission.
Zimmerman says he was aware of Buehler's address but acknowledges waivers are granted quite often and didn't see a problem.
"If the commission isn't ready for my voice the commission isn't concerned about police accountability," said Buehler. "I was a little surprised that they hid behind the technicality and the wavier as opposed to debating whether I would be a good member," he added.
Buehler had a federal lawsuit against APD. It stemmed from Buehler's arrest on New Year's Day in 2012 when police charged him for recording a woman who was being arrested. Buehler was acquitted of the charge.
Casaday is pleased with the outcome and hopes Zimmerman nominates someone who he describes as a more level headed who the association can back.
"We believe in dissent. We just don't feel like he could have been fair to the police and it is constantly one sided," said Casaday.