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Elon Musk reopens Tesla's Fremont factory against county orders, hopes he'll be the only one arrested (Update)

Elon Musk announced on Twitter Monday afternoon that he was reopening his Tesla plant in Fremont, California and thereby violating a county shut down order. Musk said that if the county felt it necessary to arrest anyone he would prefer they only arrest him:

Musk argued that Tesla was being unfairly singled out among US auto-makers:

A short time before Musk’s tweets, California Governor Gavin Newsom was asked about reopening Tesla’s Fremont factory. Newsom indicated he was aware of ongoing discussions with Alameda County and said, “My belief and hope and expectation is that as early as next week, they will be able to resume.” He added, “I’m certainly encouraged by what I am hearing.” But it appears Musk isn’t willing to wait another week.”

As Jazz noted yesterday, Musk said Saturday that he was filling a lawsuit against Alameda County, where the plant is located. Alameda’s lock down orders are more restrictive than the re-opening plans being put in place by California Governor Gavin Newsom. Musk also said Saturday that he planned to move his business interests out of the state: “Frankly, this is the final straw. Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately.”

A California Assemblywoman from San Diego reacted strongly to Musk’s lawsuit:

That tweet has been liked nearly 200,000 times since Saturday. Musk responded to her message Sunday. For a time yesterday, this was his pinned tweet:

If you’re wondering where that anti-Musk sentiment was coming from, the assemblywoman expanded on her thoughts Sunday. You’ll be shocked to learn she’s a progressive concerned about union organizing.

In the wake of Musk’s decision to reopen his plant today without county approval today, assemblywoman Gonzalez said it proved her point about tech companies and billionaires breaking the rules set up by county and state officials. She wants to see consequences.

For all his faults, Gov. Newsom isn’t quite as eager to see Tesla, one of the state’s largest, most high profile employers, pack up and leave for Texas. So today, when he was asked about the situation, Newsom made a point of praising Tesla and Musk. Musk responded positively to this part of the statement from Gov. Newsom (Newsom’s full comments are here):

My guess is that Newsom will step in to prevent the county from over-reacting today. If that doesn’t work and Musk does wind up getting arrested, then I suspect he’ll be a lot more likely to follow through on this threat to move his operation to a more business-friendly state.

In the meantime, assemblywoman Gonzalez has elevated herself as San Diego’s own AOC. If 14,000 jobs get moved out of state after her viral attack on Musk, I’m sure she’ll consider that a victory.

Update: The parking lot at Tesla’s Fremont factory is full. Alameda county has responded with a sternly worded letter which reads in part, “We have notified Tesla that they can only maintain Minimum Basic Operations until we have an approved plan that can be implemented in accordance with the local public health Order.” It goes on to say, “we hope that Tesla will likewise comply without further enforcement measures.”

So Tesla is submitting their plan later today but there’s no timeline for how long it will take the county to review and approve it. My guess is the bureaucrats will want to make an example of Musk, but again I wonder if they have gotten a call from the Governor by now. We’ll have to wait and see what happens tomorrow.


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