After Art Acevedo Fallout, Interim City Manager Jesús Garza Answers Council Questions in Memo

Acevedo debacle prompted memo, but Garza doesn’t address it

Interim City Manager Jesús Garza at a meeting in October of 2023 (Photo by John Anderson)

Interim City Manager Jesús Garza’s decision to offer former Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo a high-paying interim assistant manager position was not well-received by City Council.

Nearly half of Council publicly expressed their frustrations to Garza and even more expressed them privately. As a result, Acevedo announced last week he was no longer taking the job.

Following that, five Council members wanted to bring Garza into a closed-door executive session to conduct a performance review of his time as city manager. The meeting was prompted by the whirlwind of bad publicity CMs faced in the wake of the Acevedo news, but those interested in the review also felt it would be a long-overdue discussion intended to recap Garza’s decisions over the past year and discuss his plans for city government over the next four to six months.

That meeting didn’t happen, even though only two CMs were needed to make it happen. Instead, the five interested CMs – Alison Alter, Ryan Alter, Paige Ellis, Natasha Harper-Madison and Zo Qadri – submitted questions they may have asked Garza in that closed-door meeting for him to answer in writing.

Garza did so Tuesday, Jan. 30, in a six-page memo that outlines progress he has made in a range of priority areas: homelessness response, permitting review, and staffing challenges at the 911 call center.

The memo does not directly address the Acevedo debacle. The closest it gets is one question: “What do you believe the proper communication with or input from Council is over personnel and restructuring decisions?”

“While personnel and restructuring decisions are and should be at the discretion of the City Manager as set up by the charter,” Garza wrote, “it in no way means that input is not welcome. As we move to ensure a smooth transition to a new City Manager, it is my sincere hope that this alignment is fully integrated to set us up for success.”

Check next week’s print issue for more on this story.

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