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Directors of the Austin Public Library as well as heads of the parks and recreation, animal services and code departments discussed the phased approach during a virtual press conference earlier today. Plans will be assessed every 28 days and may be subject to change, depending on the course of the pandemic.
Starting Monday, the parks department will reopen certain facilities that have been closed since the start of the pandemic. Three pools will reopen Monday, with six more to follow, but there is not yet a date to reopen Barton Springs or Deep Eddy. Splash pads will also remain closed.
Austin Public Library will also reopen its book drops. Returned items will be quarantined for 72 hours, Director Roosevelt Weeks said. On June 15, APL will begin offering curbside service—where residents can pick up books and other items—at select locations, including the Central Library downtown.
The Austin Animal Center will resume in-person adoptions, within certain guidelines, on Monday. Interested residents will be required to schedule appointments in advance, have their temperature checked upon arrival and wear masks. Two appointments will be allowed per hour.
The code department is reopening its cashiers office. Two weeks later, its licensing and registration office will follow suit. Interim Assistant Director Daniel Word encouraged residents to continue using the electronic options available on the city's website.
As the reopening process continues, city officials asked residents to continue wearing masks and practicing social distancing while returning to these venues in an effort to keep city employees and other essential workers safe. "The safety of our employees and the community that we serve are always on our mind," Deputy City Manager Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde said.
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Matthew McConaughey is reportedly weighing a run for Texas governor in 2022.
The Austin resident and Oscar winner has been "quietly making calls to influential people in Texas political circles, including a deep-pocketed moderate Republican and energy CEO" as he decides whether to run, according to Politico.
McConaughey said a gubernatorial run is "a true consideration" while on a March episode of Houston's "The Balanced Voice" podcast.
Although most political strategists doubt McConaughey's commitment and viability as a candidate, some are still intrigued by the possibility.
"I find it improbable, but it's not out of the question," Karl Rove, a top Republican strategist with a long history in Austin, told the political news site. He added that the big question is whether McConaughey would run as a Republican, a Democrat or an independent.
Brendan Steinhauser, an Austin-based GOP strategist, told Politico he's surprised McConaughey isn't being taken more seriously. "Celebrity in this country counts for a lot," he said. "It's not like some C-list actor no one likes. He has an appeal."
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott plans to run for a third term and remains popular among Republican voters, 77% of whom approve of his performance as of April, according to the Texas Politics Project.
Some strategists believe an independent McConaughey run would benefit Abbott. But a recent poll from The Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler found that McConaughey would beat Abbott, 45% to 33%, with 22% opting for someone else.
Mimi Swartz, an executive editor at Texas Monthly, mulled a McConaughey run in a recent opinion essay from the New York Times. "Texas may not be ready for a philosopher king as a candidate, much less governor," she wrote. "May the best man win, man."
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Some JuiceLand production facility workers and storefront employees are organizing to demand wage increases, better working conditions (including air conditioning in the warehouse) and pay transparency, among other asks. They are also calling on staff to strike and customers to boycott the Austin-based company until their demands are met.
JuiceLand responded on Saturday. "We are listening," the company wrote on their Instagram story. "JuiceLand crew now makes guaranteed $15 an hour or more companywide."
JuiceLand, which was founded in 2001 by Matt Shook and now has 35 locations in Austin, Houston and Dallas, acknowledged the rising cost of living across Texas and the added stress of the pandemic in an email to employees on Saturday, part of which @juicelandworkersrights shared on social media. "There's no denying that times are tough and financial security means more now than ever," the company wrote.
Organized JuiceLand workers rejected this proposal, according to a recent post on the @juicelandworkersrights Instagram account, and reiterated their demands.
"Cost of living in Austin is rising exponentially and will only continue to get worse with the tech boom," the post read. "$15 is barely a sustainable living."