Donkey of the Day: Long Beach Councilman Al Austin
Al Austin is our “Donkey of the Day”. Tuesday, July 19, Long Beach City Council welcomed a new council member, witnessed the swearing-in of 3 re-elected council members and a new Vice Mayor was selected. Austin earns the prestigious recognition for how he voted against the very council member who stood up for him against racist allegations as he campaigned for re-election a few short months ago.
In our opinion, Al Austin isn’t the most visible and/or productive member of the council. He is a strong advocate of the Long Beach Police Department and turns a blind eye when members of the community, who share his skin color, are killed due to the rogue actions of some officers.
2 Urban Girls reached out to Austin, during his campaign, to ascertain what he is doing in the 8th district. He said, “my record speaks for itself”. Uh, what record?
Austin then referred me to view his newsletters, 67 of them to be exact, which shows he more so piggybacks on what other council members are doing. The most we hear of are his back pack giveaways, yet how many “underprividelged” folks live in Bixby Knolls?
When asked why his “record” doesn’t garner any press attention, from the more than five Long Beach based periodicals, his reply was “I guess we should work harder for newspaper coverage.”
Council member Rex Richardson came into office on a mission. Having served as Chief of Staff for the previous council member, Steve Neal, Richardson has been in the news since being sworn in.
He involved his community by letting residents vote on how to spend $250k for the 9th District, he secured enough votes to name the newly built library after our First Lady Michelle Obama and has launched a successful #UptownRenaissance campaign which includes music festivals in the park. Richardson also publicly acknowledged recent high school graduates, by erecting banners throughout the 9th District, to display where they were headed to college.
Back to Al Austin though.
What really disturbs 2 Urban Girls about Al Austin is he isn’t loyal.
During Austin’s re-election campaign, mailers went out putting on blast the rising crime in the city. The images on the mailer depicted a black person wearing a hoodie. Instead of Al Austin publicly condemning the mailers, he hid behind Richardson, Megan Kerr, his opponent Wesley Turnbow, and other elected officials, who slammed the mailer in the media. The Press Telegram reported:
Although Austin, the incumbent in the 8th District, did not join the statement condemning the mailer, he expressed his disappointment in the advertisement, saying it shows that the people behind the imagery are out of touch with Long Beach politics.
As votes were cast, to elect a new Vice Mayor, Richardson was up first and received NO votes from both of his black colleagues Al Austin and Dee Andrews.
Richardson remained diplomatic and thanked his colleagues for the vote of confidence and affirmed his commitment to the city of Long Beach.
“I am truly honored and humbled to take on this new challenge. With it, comes the designation as the youngest and first African-American male in our City’s history to serve in this capacity. I simply hope that this moment can be an inspiration for the youth of our city to reach higher and achieve their dreams.” said Richardson.
Per the City Charter, “the Vice Mayor shall perform all duties and, except for the power to veto actions of the City Council, may exercise all powers of the Mayor as prescribed in the City Charter when the Mayor is absent.”