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Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell reportedly violated his own stay-at-home order by attending a family birthday party in the spring.
Gravell will plead guilty to a misdemeanor related to the episode and pay a $1,000 fine, the Austin American-Statesman reported Tuesday.
A criminal complaint about the incident prompted the appointment of a special prosecutor and an investigation by the Texas Rangers.
Gravell's attorney Bill Hines said his client is the only person in the county to be prosecuted for the order, and that the Rangers found no other wrongdoing, the Statesman reported.
Georgetown attorney Robert McCabe filed the complaint in April, accusing Gravell of violating his own stay-at-home order, as well as official oppression and abuse of official capacity.
A week earlier, on April 7, a Twitter account posted pictures it said were of Gravell arriving at a gathering, "driven by a deputy." Gravell was wearing a fireman's suit with a special breathing apparatus.
These photos provided by a very annoyed neighbor apparently, who is sick of the rules not applying to everybody. Is… https://t.co/pdRuzued6Y— Buddy Falcon (@Buddy Falcon)1586289167.0
Williamson County residents expressed disapproval of the posted photos.
@buddy_falcon @BillGravell @SheriffChody This just keeps getting weirder and weirder. Smh 🙄 Hope he is held accountable.— Scott Phillip Lewis (@Scott Phillip Lewis)1586304831.0
@buddy_falcon @BillGravell @SheriffChody This is wrong on so my level. @BillGravell You’re so out of touch with reality it’s scary God— Michael Novick (@Michael Novick)1586291152.0
Williamson County Fire Chief Mark McAdams told KXAN Gravell borrowed the fire equipment as a COVID safety measure during his visit to his grandson's party.
County residents at the time were barred from gatherings, following Gravell's stay-at-home order that forbade residents from leaving their home except for essential business. The order was in effect from March 24 through April 30.
After Williamson County attorney Dee Hobbs recused himself from the case, the criminal complaint zigzagged through courts for nearly two months, as officials grappled with how to handle the investigation. The Texas Supreme Court ultimately decided to appoint Milam County District Attorney Bill Torrey as special prosecutor.
Earlier this month, amid a new surge in COVID cases, Gravell said he would not close the county with another stay-at-home order.
Gravell was sworn into office on the first day of the year in 2019. He previously had served as a Justice of the Peace from 2015 to 2018.
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Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced a record-setting second quarter during an earnings call broadcasted from the Giga Texas construction site in Southeast Travis County on Monday.
The electric carmaker reported more than $1 billion in quarterly net income and the production of more than 200,000 vehicles for the first time despite challenges such as a global semiconductor shortage.
"It … seems that public sentiment towards electric vehicles is at an inflection point, and at this point, I think, almost everyone agrees electric vehicles are the only way forward," Musk said.
Exterior shots taken just a while ago of Giga Texas (while @elonmusk is reportedly at the Gigafactory!) during today's earnings call!
Hope @peterdog15 got to catch the technoking in his video! #fastestinhistory #Tesla pic.twitter.com/WqeDlb5wU3
— Austin Tesla Club (@AustinTeslaClub) July 26, 2021
Despite rising consumer demand and adequate factory capacity, Tesla faces what Musk described as a "quite serious" global semiconductor shortage, which will determine the company's growth rate for the rest of the year.
With increased revenue and production, Tesla is investing in new factories, Chief Financial Officer Zachary Kirkhorn said. These include Giga Texas, the $1.1 billion manufacturing plant that broke ground last summer and is slated to open later this year.
The Giga Texas factory in Southeast Travis County has rapidly increased in size since ground broke last August. (Tesla)
Musk commended the construction team for "incredible progress," transforming what was basically a vacant site into "a mostly complete large factory a year later."
I was at Giga Texas yesterday. Team is making excellent progress. Building will be almost a mile long when complete.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 25, 2021
Giga Texas will produce the highly anticipated Cybertruck, along with other models, but Musk said scaling its production will be difficult, especially given the supply chain delays caused by the pandemic. "It's going to move as fast as the slowest of its up to 10,000 unique parts," he said.
In other news, Musk said Monday's earnings call would likely be his last regular appearance, only jumping on future quarterly calls when big announcements warrant it.
Tesla Solar recently made news when it announced plans to build the nation's most sustainable residential community in Southeast Austin earlier this month. The newly built homes will feature Tesla solar roof tiles and Powerwall battery storage as well as electric vehicle charging stations.
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The city of Austin released a shortlist of seven candidates for the police chief position left vacant when Brian Manley retired in March.
City Manager Spencer Cronk hopes to announce an appointment by the end of August, which will require City Council approval.
The finalists, chosen from a field of 46 applicants, include:
- APD Interim Chief Joseph Chacon, who previously served as an assistant chief in the department for almost five years
- Anne Kirkpatrick, former police chief in Oakland, California, who was fired last year after a federal monitor criticized her handling of a fatal 2018 police shooting of a homeless man
- Dallas Police Department Assistant Chief Avery L. Moore, who is a 30-year veteran of the department
- Atlanta Police Department Deputy Chief Celeste Murphy, who manages the department's community services division
- Dekalb County Police Chief Mirtha V. Ramos, who previously served as division chief in the Miami-Dade Police Department
- Wichita Police Department Chief Gordon Ramsay, who is a former president of the Minnesota Police Chief's Association as well as one of the first police chiefs of a major U.S. City to call George Floyd's death a murder, as reported by the Wichita Eagle
- Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Emada E. Tingirides, who is also commanding officer of the department's newly formed Community Safety Partnership Bureau, which serves L.A.'s underserved communities
City staff will interview the finalists in the coming weeks, with several community input opportunities to come, according to a Monday press release.
The city conducted a public survey in March and hosted community input meetings in April to learn more about what residents are looking for in their next police chief, which helped shape the selection criteria for the position.
"They want to see the Chief be reform-minded and transparent and have a track record of fostering community involvement and accountability," Cronk said in the release. "The candidates selected show these characteristics in various ways."
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Days after Austin began once again recommending masks in public spaces, Austin ISD announced Monday that kindergarten through sixth-grade classes will have virtual options this fall.
The district will discuss the move in a special board meeting Monday evening starting at 5 p.m., while full details will be released Friday.
Teachers will not have to fret about the new option—no educators will have to juggle both virtual and in-person learning. Instead, certain teachers will specialize in virtual education, according to a press release.
The news comes after a recent spike in COVID cases in Travis County and across the nation. Children typically suffer fewer symptoms of COVID when contracted, but they are now catching the virus more often than their older counterparts without a vaccine available to them and as the more contagious Delta variant is quickly being spread.
While local health officials are recommending everyone wear masks, public school districts are unable to mandate masks due to an executive order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott in May.
Parents have expressed concern about classrooms with masks unenforceable and children under the age of 12 ineligible for a vaccine. Some have even said they would look for alternative schooling if AISD did not offer a virtual option for students.
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