Sunday, April 24, 2011

T. Edward Austin, RIP

Two things I remember about Ed Austin, who died this week:
One was the fact that as state attorney he looked at the evidence and brought an indictment against a good friend, Mayor Hans Tanzler.
I don't think Tanzler did anything wrong other than run afoul of highly complex campaign finance rules. He and Austin and the late Dale Carson were three of the most honest public officials I ever ran into, but that's beside the point. Austin thought there was enough evidence to let it go to trial and he didn't let friendship affect his decision.
Another example concerned a murder case that I covered as a reporter. At one point, Austin's investigators uncovered evidence that supported the defense. Austin immediately told his people to make the defense attorneys aware of the information. (The guy was convicted anyway.)
Just a short time before he died, Austin and I had breakfast at the Fox in Avondale and talked over old times. I had known him since we were neighbors back in the 1960s.
I wrote many stories, columns and editorials about him while he served as state attorney, general counsel and mayor. He never complained about any, although he thought I was wrong about sentencing guidelines. (He may have been right.)
I didn't think he looked well when I saw him. He told me he had been down a bit, but planned on resuming his workouts at the gym, and insisted that we visit again soon.
I wish we could. But I'm glad we had those last few moments.

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