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AudibleNod t1_j8oeiy5 wrote

Cronk, who had been in the job since 2018, was the city’s first executive to lose his job over the prolonged outages. He will receive about $463,000 in severance.


"Oh, no. Poor me." - Cronk, probably


Trimestrial t1_j8ofs4k wrote

Well... I'll play the fall guy for $463,000 in severance...

To bad it'll do nothing to change anything for when the next "Storm of the Decade" comes around next year...,


nazerall t1_j8ogl63 wrote

Can Someone explain why the city manager would be responsible?


AirborneRodent t1_j8oi08t wrote

The city manager didn't cause the power outages. The outages were caused because of a combination of an ice storm that froze all the trees, and high winds that snapped the frozen branches. Tens of thousands of trees, tree limbs, and tree branches fell all over the city, and many of them damaged power lines as they fell.

What the city manager was responsible for was the cleanup and repair after the storm was over. It took over two weeks to restore power to everybody, and people are accusing the city manager of not organizing the repair crews properly.


reddig33 t1_j8oluxz wrote

Cronk was also responsible for making sure the trees were trimmed or the power lines buried. He did a half assed job.

Austin residents have wanted him out ever since the police force here injured civilians and bystanders during the BLM protests. He didn’t do anything about that either.


MatsThyWit t1_j8oqmv7 wrote

Shocker, a government official in one of the very few mostly blue/democratic party controlled districts in the entire state of Texas is the only state official to face any consequences.


AurelianoTampa t1_j8ox2vf wrote

Sorry if it seems like a silly question, but why does a public official get almost half a million in severance for being fired? I can understand getting your PTO cashed out - that was earned - but what's with that insane amount for getting canned?


yawetag12 t1_j8p3cp0 wrote

Because it was part of their contract. I'm sure the wording was based on the type of termination, and they allowed it to be the one that gets him the cash-out.

In the end, it was probably cheaper to give him the cash-out than defend themselves in court and then pay the cash-out, interest, and lawyer fees.


mrthebear5757 t1_j8p3xk8 wrote

They are a public official in the sense that they work for a government office, but a city manager for a city of a million people is a job that is designed to operate "like the CEO of a business", as the article said. The kind of people qualified to take these positions are not common, and it is a highly compensated field when you are hiring for someone responsible for departments, etc. of such a large city. You are essentially hiring someone who could be running a mid to large size business.


RN2FL9 t1_j8p6m0a wrote

It's because he's responsible for Austin energy. All the other power companies didn't have as many outages. And while that can be blamed on nature, a week later a large portion with Austin energy still had no power. This is after several water quality problems. Police problems. And so on.


pbaus t1_j8p7gke wrote

As another commenter stated, it's part of his severance package, negotiated at the start of his employment contract. IIRC, it was 12 months of salary + 18 months of his/his husband's COBRA coverage.


pittypitty t1_j8p7kr7 wrote

Don't we all want to know the answer? Just taking a look at recent history, I imagine there is enough to bring more unwanted attention their way and I'm sure they had this guy sign an NDA to at least stop one leak. Money helps too.


justhanginhere t1_j8pco73 wrote

Cause y’all keep voting insane people into office


Sqeegg t1_j8pg44w wrote

I think you can blame gov hot wheels for that actually.


reddig33 t1_j8pomwg wrote

Dunno why you’re being downvoted. This statement is true. He recently ignored the city council request to put together a short term (one year) police contract so that citizens could vote on oversight proposals in the pipeline. Instead, he put together a four year contract that favored the police and presented it to the council.


JohnGillnitz t1_j8psbq5 wrote

Taking a job like that means you are eventually going to become the fall guy for something. This just bakes that expectation into the job. He'll have no problem finding another city to run if that is what he wants to do.


mirach t1_j8q3nk5 wrote

Since he's been city manager (in 2018) we've have 3 city wide boil water notices and 2 power outage events lasting multiple days and very little communication. That we've had so many with such poor communication is the main reason. Tack onto that a dissatisfaction with Austin Police (they have been very poor recently despite a record budget) and Cronk trying to sabotage police contract negotiations, it's time for him to go.


Zeggitt t1_j8qemyq wrote

ITT: Idiots who don't know the difference between city and state officials


puffytacoz t1_j8qewnl wrote

fuck cronk. glad hes gone. hes been worthless from day one


SpaceTabs t1_j8qim3h wrote

Local citizens micro managed the vegetation management on utility right of way? Hopefully they learned something. Don't let a few assholes at a council meeting cause a huge outage.

"During the blast, Austin Energy’s Vice President of Field Operations Elton Richards said they have a backlog since changing that policy three years ago."

“Prior to me arriving here, the city council had restricted trimming of trees down to an unsustainable manner,” said Richards, “Since that time we’ve been just pounding on the vegetation. It’s probably going to take another 3 years to get the whole city back on a normal cycle.”

"In 2012, Austin Energy reported that they invested about 9 million annually in its tree trimming program. Council members said that funding has increased in the past two years. Adam Andrzejewski, founder of Open The Books, took a closer look at their recent investments."


spirituallyinsane t1_j8qnjhv wrote

I hate that ERCOT gets the heat for rolling blackouts and outages. They're just the grid operator, running the grid according to the rules of the Public Utility Commission, which is appointed by the governor.

Ultimately they were given a nigh impossible task of keeping the grid up without making really deep cuts. There is plenty wrong with the Texas grid, and the PUC didn't force the implementation of better winterization and grid control. But given the rules and levers they were given, ERCOT followed their mandate and keeping us out of grid black start territory. Scapegoating them is a dodge that lets Abbot and his appointees off the hook.


rnobgyn t1_j8quirq wrote

Austin doesn’t trim their trees properly around power lines. Born and raised here, the power line damage could’ve been extremely mitigated had we properly prepared for bad weather (it’s Texas.. what’s new 🤷🏼)


BigBry36 t1_j8rgobd wrote

Politics aside- is he just a fall guy for bigger govt failures….?


eshemuta t1_j8roajm wrote

The govt running the power grid? That sounds kinda socialist to me. Wtf Texas?


TortoiseThief t1_j8s6zto wrote

This article is pretty lazy and didn't bother exploring other issues happening with Cronk. The bigger issue with is that the Austin city council wanted a one year contract with Austin police while voters discuss oversight measures, and Cronk went ahead and approved a 4 year contract instead. Voters and city council were not happy.

A quick google search of his name would have shown this info.


TenderfootGungi t1_j8sffq4 wrote

City managers are in charge of backups. Most cities have power loops that allow them to feed area from more than one way. If a transformer is blown or a storm takes our power lines, they can feed most areas from alternate paths. Obviously a small neighborhood will go down, you cannot add redundancy everywhere, but most areas stay up. Apparently this is not common in many Texas cities like it is in most of US.


friedAmobo t1_j8ssl53 wrote

ERCOT and the Texas state government had no role in these recent power outages. Unlike 2021, where there were significant generation and transmission problems on a statewide level, the 2023 power outages in Austin were a result of local infrastructure - managed by the city itself through the municipally-owned utility Austin Energy - not being adequately maintained to deal with extreme weather. In particular, tree trimming programs were scaled down for over a decade due to public complaints, and that ended up being a big problem when those tree branches fell onto power lines and knocked out power for significant chunks of the city for days.


friedAmobo t1_j8sv6zb wrote

The position of city manager is a municipal position, not a state position. Cronk was a municipal official, and his "boss" was the Austin City Council, which is nominally nonpartisan but has a 10-to-1 Democrat-to-Republican composition out of eleven members. The City Council selected him to manage Austin as its "chief executive officer." He faced consequences because 9 out of 10 Democrats on the City Council and the lone Republican decided together that he could no longer meet the needs of the job after this latest fiasco. He was fired by the same Democrats that also run the city and were elected in municipal elections (unlike him, who was selected by elected officials but himself faces no municipal election). A proposal (2021 Prop F) to replace the council-manager system in Austin with a mayor-council system lost by 70 percentage points.

Just a week ago, Cronk announced that he had negotiated a four-year contract with Austin's police union despite the City Council wanting a one-year contract so that they could figure out reforms and public proposals as well. This very public disagreement (which was no doubt embarrassing to the City Council) coupled with public outrage over the management of Austin Energy made it a very easy decision to sack Cronk now.