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Unions fighting potential Travis County incentive deal for Tesla factory

Travis County commissioners discussed a suspected Tesla incentives project yesterday.

Travis County commissioners are considering an economic incentives deal that they have declined to be specific about, but public comment from local union representatives has been on one topic: a potential Tesla assembly plant.


Austin was recently reported to be one of two finalists for a new Tesla "Gigafactory," and the Austin American-Statesman reported Mondaythat Travis County commissioners would discuss an incentives agreement for the company in a closed session at its Tuesday meeting.

The commissioners did not formally confirm that they were discussing a deal with Tesla, but did not deny it. Spokesperson Hector Nieto said the county had no comment.

Callers into the virtual meeting asked commissioners to slow down and make more transparent their discussions. Among them was Carol Guthrie, business manager for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local Union 1624, which represents Austin and Travis County government employees.

"What is difficult here is we are talking about someone who is a billionaire—not million, but billionaire—and to consider now that perhaps they need incentives in order to come to Travis County is absolutely shameful, especially when your own employees are not getting a pay raise because were told the funds just weren't there," Guthrie said.

In a letter to commissioners, United Auto Workers Vice President Cindy Estrada and Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy, among others, alerted commissioners to Tesla's "troubled history with taxpayer subsidies."

In a press release issued Monday, Estrada elaborated: "Tesla has a track record of collecting public subsidies from several states but not delivering on their promises," she said.



Jessica Wolff, deputy policy director for the Workers Defense Project, asked commissioners to consider requiring benefits such as paid family and sick leave as a condition of any incentive deals.

Commissioners took no action on the agenda item. County Judge Sam Briscoe said it will be back on the agenda at next week's meeting.

Last July, commissioners voted to "pause" accepting new applications for economic incentive agreements after the Texas Legislature approved a property tax revenue cap. The cap—which was scheduled to take effect this October but may be postponed due to the pandemic—limits how much property tax revenue local governments can collect.

"We simply cannot afford to give preferential tax treatment to our wealthiest corporate citizens, or prospective wealthy corporate citizens, under a 3.5% revenue cap," then-County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said. "This is a 'like-to-have' that we simply can't afford under this new normal."

But on May 26 they voted to un-pause "for one special project for up to two months." The project was not named.

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Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.

Mac and Cheese Fest and Free Art Exhibit
Waterloo Greenway, Good Vibrations Installation


🗓 All weekend

🎨 Creek Show Art Exhibit

Check out this highly anticipated art exhibition with illuminated art along Waller Creek. Tickets are free and the event includes food vendors, dazzling lights, live music, and hands-on activities

All weekend 6 p.m - 10 p.m | 📍Waterloo Park

✨ Mozart's Light Show

This iconic holiday tradition lights up for the first time this holiday season starting this weekend! Reserve your spot for an enchanting light and sound performance, delicious hot cocoa, sweet treats, and some overall fun with your friends or family. The show runs till January 6th.

6 p.m and 9 p.m | 📍Mozart's Coffee Roasters - 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

🗓 Saturday

🥊 Kickboxing in the Park

This fitness event is free and open to the public. Get your morning started right with a "Fitness in the park" class for kickboxing! The class will be led by certified instructors and is a great way to get a cardio workout in while also honing your self-defense skills.

10 a.m - 11 a.m | 📍 Metz Park

🛍 The Front Market

Support local LBGTQ+ and female artists at this outdoor market with over 150 vendors. Get your holiday shopping out of the way at this event, with vendors for food trucks, handmade goods, raffles, hands on workshops and activities, and more.

11 a.m - 5 p.m | 📍Ani's Day and Night - 7107 E Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78741

🗓 Sunday

🧀 Mac and Cheese Fest

Did someone say cheese?! If you're like me and always willing to get your hands on a bowl of mac and cheese, then this event is for you. Check out the Mac and Cheese festival happening this weekend to decide which vendor has. the best mac and cheese for yourself, and enjoy the bar with creative cocktails while you're at it. Tickets start at $45.

11 a.m - 3 p.m | 📍Lantana Place - 7415 Southwest Parkway