According to this email to employees from Executive Director Cherie Townsend, TYC's board will make the decision on unit closures at their June 2011 meeting. Under the current House and Senate budgets, TYC would need to close three facilities and the central office insists they have no prejudice as to which ones are most likely to get the axe - hence their request for input at community meetings.More than 100 local facility employees, members of the public, volunteers, and youth advocates showed up to the meeting to voice their concerns. Elected officials such as McLennan County Judge, Jim Lewis, and District 22 State Senator, Brian Birdwell also came to show their support.
"I have not seen this kind of turnout at a public community meeting on a Saturday morning. It's very rare, so it shows the passion of the local community the level of participation by elected officials your County Judge, State Senator, State Representative. I think that just speaks powerfully of the community commitment to this facility," said Scott Fisher, TYC Board Chairman.
Fisher says the TYC will have to cut $116 million and that means closing three of their secure facilities, along with several district offices and possibly a halfway house by September 1, 2011.
I suppose then, these meetings are their version of a Hillary-Clinton style "listening tour" to soften the impact, presumably, on the day when the fatal blows finally fall. I can see seeking such input on where to place new facilities, but I don't see why they're needed when contemplating closure, other than as a cathartic exercise for locals who want to speak their piece - a motivation which, while seemingly trivial, shouldn't be completely discounted. People take bad news better if they feel that first you've heard them out. But I suspect that TYC management right now has a pretty good idea of which units it makes sense to keep open and which ones are more trouble than they're worth. And I wonder how much could possibly change between now and June as a result of having received public testimony.