News & Politics

EXCLUSIVE: Austin Is Spending Millions on No-Bid Contracts to Push Critical Race Theory on Its Newest Police Officers

Screenshot from embedded YouTube video.

In March 2021, as violent crime including homicide exploded across Austin and police officers were leaving in droves, Mayor Steve Adler and the city council approved a new police cadet class. But not before certain ideas for “reforms” were laid out. Those were based on recommendations made by a couple of firms hired by the city council. The council had canceled previous classes, also per the consultants’ recommendations, leaving APD shorthanded as it lost officers due to attrition from retirements and other separations.

At the time, Adler said, “I am hoping the upcoming cadet class will be cultural change-makers for our community.”

A source tipped PJ Media to a massive contract the city quietly approved with a consulting firm in April 2021. The name of the firm is Joyce James Consulting. The Round Rock, Texas, firm has landed multiple no-bid contracts with the city according to Austin’s government website.

The largest contract spends close to a whopping $3 million over three years as Austin “reimagines” police officers as “cultural change-makers” per Adler’s hope.

Here’s the contract posting, which was somewhat challenging to find on the city’s website. As you can see in the screenshot below, it’s a $2.9 million haul for the consultant. More than $100,000 has already been spent. The contract was only executed on April 27, 2021. It was approved on April 22, 2021.

Austin
Screenshot from Austin city website, captured 7/1/2021.

The contract itself is not available online, with no explanation for this given by the city.

While searching for this contract, we unearthed another one between Austin and the same company. This one, which was executed in June 2020 just as riots were roiling the city, is to provide consulting services to APD. Those services are not described. That contract is worth $120,000. All of its funds have been expended.

Austin
Screenshot from Austin city website, captured 7/1/2021.

In addition to the above contracts, the Austin City Council approved a third no-bid contract in 2021 with Joyce James Consulting. This one is worth $150,000. No funds have been spent on this contract yet according to Austin’s website.

Austin
No-bid contract between Austin and Joyce James Consulting, captured 7/1/2021.

 

All three contracts are not posted online. All three contracts were awarded to the same Round Rock, Texas, firm without competitive bidding. Competitive bidding is often required by law and is typically used to avoid conflicts of interest and under-the-table awarding of contracts by government entities. The three contracts are worth a total of $3,170,000 over about three years.

How did the company acquire three lucrative no-bid contracts in the space of one year with the city of Austin, which are not posted on the city’s website, at a time when the city has gutted the police budget? In part, the question answers itself. Adler’s city council diverted funds of roughly $150 million from law enforcement in August 2020, when all members of the council were Democrats. That choice had the effect of gutting key APD departments and allocated funds to political endeavors such as “reimagining” policing.

Related: Defunding the Police Claims its 41st Victim in Austin

In December 2020, the same firm made recommendations to the city that included halting police cadet classes, according to KVUE TV.

Two new reports released this week addressed racial and gender inequities and disparities within the Austin Police Department and shared recommendations to create an “anti-racist institutional culture.”

The reports, released by Round Rock-based equity consulting firm Joyce James Consulting and The Peace Mill Research and Communications, were shared in a Dec. 29 City memo.

James’ firm recommended what the city should do, and then landed millions of dollars in no-bid contracts to implement its recommendations.

The company built its corporate website on Squarespace, a free and low-cost website host. The web developer neglected to customize key elements such as fonts and the favicon, which would be part of the branding of a typical firm. The domain was established on Tucows in 2013 and expires at the end of 2021 unless it is renewed.

Homicides have topped 42 in the city after the cuts and diversions kicked in (there were just under 50 homicides in all of 2020, and 36 in 2019), and other violent crime categories have risen as well, according to the Greater Austin Crime Commission (GACC). At least four police officers have been shot on the job in 2021.

The GACC was kicked out of the “reimagining” task force months ago. That task force is now populated entirely by anti-police activist groups.

Without being able to examine the contracts, how can Austinites know what services Joyce James Consulting provides to the city and what content and ideas it intends to teach to new police cadets? Deliverables, milestones, and other requirements of the no-bid contracts are not available online.

The firm’s website describes something it calls “Groundwater Analysis.”

A Groundwater Analysis of Racial Inequities

Joyce James’ Groundwater Analysis workshop is a phenomenal experience for recognizing and navigating systemic and institutional racism. It is an interactive, revolutionary exploration into how systems of racism work.

This video supposedly depicts reactions to the Groundwater Analysis sessions. James appears at the end of the video.

One source tells PJ Media that James is using this Groundwater Analysis training and openly linked it to critical race theory during a four-hour pilot session with police officers earlier this year. But James may be reframing the training as critical race theory, which has been linked to Marxism and has become a controversial term nationwide. James also leads a 20-hour version of the training, which has “disgusted” officers who have had to undergo it. A source tells PJ Media “it sounds as bad as you can imagine.”