Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Austin chief curiously, ferociously defends CLEAT turncoat

Austin police chief Art Acevedo accused the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas (CLEAT), the state's largest collection of police unions, of lying about him when they said the department created a position for former CLEAT organizer (and past Austin Police Association President) Mike Sheffield, who was hired out of retirement for a coveted, senior position ahead of qualified, active officers. Grits claims no special knowledge beyond media reports, but I agree with CLEAT the situation at a minimum suffered from bad optics. Whether or not CLEAT used imprecise language, there's an appearance of special treatment.

As an aside, though, what a soap opera of internal police union politics on this one! Mike Sheffield becomes a big-shot as the head of the Austin union, securing with then-mayor (now state senator) Kirk Watson massive wage hikes that have come to dominate the city budget and drive expenditures in other areas into a lengthy series of new debt requests (including nearly $400 million worth on the November ballot). Then Sheffield goes to work for APA's umbrella organization, CLEAT, where he was fired under disputed terms over disagreements at the union's highest levels Now he has returned to Austin PD, a friend to management but persona non grata to the union he once led and the object of public denunciation as a chief's crony. Adding to that perception,  the Chief goes to the media to defend Sheffield, quite ferociously, attacking his new hire's former employers in the press and  vaguely hinting at (IMO spurious) legal action. Some of the litigation coming out of Sheffield's employment dispute with CLEAT should make for awfully interesting reading.


Anonymous said...

Hey Grits, where do you get your facts,who was passed up! The man was hired for a $16.00 an hour job processing in-car video, this is the highly coveted job you speak of? As usual, you show your agenda and slant. Enjoy your weekend please keep writing your fictional diatribes for your delusional supporters.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I say "coveted" because others clearly wanted it but they gave it to an outsider. The word "highly" was yours; my characterization was accurate.

Otherwise, you'll have to take your concerns up with CLEAT, anon, they're the main ones criticizing Acevedo over this. I know no more about the controversy than was reported at KXAN, which is where the information in this post came from.