Austin Dispatches No. 232 March 28, 2021

The snow melted away, but Travis County remains buried under a statist firn.1 The anti-coronavirus lockdown the local power elite has imposed upon us for more than a year is just the newest layer, obscuring the damage wrought by decades of wrong policies.

For example, the March 12 Chronicle cheers the Austin City Council's formal apology to blacks for disenfranchising them through land-use regulation and zoning, and urban renewal programs.2 However, both organizations refrained from going further and abjuring such governmental tools of oppression and inequality.3

Perhaps a century hence, the Council will insufficiently apologize for imposing the lockdown. For now, Austin's power elite, and those it's bamboozled, are resisting the state's re-liberalization.

March 2, Gov. Greg Abbott ended the statewide lockdown and mandatory face diapers that he originally imposed.4 Abbott wouldn't have done even that much without persistent resistance by many Texas Republicans.5 For all their faults, they have a better grasp than he of what makes Texas great and how to keep it that way.6 Like his predecessor, E.J. Davis, Abbott needs a swift kick in the ass after being expelled from office.7

The county's bien-pensants reacted predictably.8 Unfortunately, too many businesses and private citizens throughout the metro area shared similar reactions, instead of clamoring to resume their free lives.9 The businesses must be too busy begging for government handouts, instead of correcting the crap service from their employees.10 A Democratic Socialist cell masterminded a pro-mask protest at the Capitol on March 9.11 This means the grocery chains that still require masks to enter their stores are in cahoots with socialists.12

The March 20 Statesman reports the power elite grappling with how to reopen.13 Interestingly, other polities didn't have such difficulties. They just reopened.14 For now, the power elite is trying to dodge Texas' re-liberalization by delegating authority to the unelected Mark Escott, acting Public Health authority, and the rules he imposed upon us more than a year ago.15 Austin's mayor and the Travis County judge "have no power to force Escott to change his rules, although they could replace him as health authority were they so inclined. Changing the enforcement ordinance would require a Council vote at a public meeting," according to the March 19 Chronicle.16

The Public Health quacks, the county commissioners, the councilmen, the University of Texas administration,17 and the teachers of the Austin Independent School District18 continue to insist the anti-pandemic measures work and must remain in place. However, Austin Dispatches has conveyed the continuing peer-reviewed critiques by credentialed medical professionals -- including at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- of such measures for almost as long.19 In short, no, those measures don't work. If Escott weren't so busy wasting taxpayers' money, he might actually learn some real health information from his colleagues.

Tellingly, the power elite's publicly expressed concerns about the virus haven't stopped it from doing what it wants regarding increased urban density,20 increased mass transit,21 dumping street bums in the suburbs,22 and inaugurating the soccer stadium,23 all vectors that undercut social distancing measures, according to what medical bureaucrats have told us.

Not even a state lawsuit has dislodged their petrified thinking.24 " 'Adler will never do the right thing on his own,' " said Attorney General Ken Paxton.25

For his part, the mayor continues to turn himself into a punchline. A legislator has proposed renaming the stretch of Interstate 35 between Fourth and 11th streets "the Steve Adler Public Restroom Highway," because of the street bums infesting the area.26

The main established local newspapers could boost their reputations with in-depth exposes of the aforementioned and all the continuing pre-pandemic boondoggles and maladministration, obscured by the coronavirus coverage that's just beginning to wane.27 That is, if the papers weren't staffed with millenarian pinkos and unionized time-servers.28

Business Roundup

The Business Journal has instead used the pandemic as an opportunity to write features about adjustments to work practices no journalist would deem newsworthy otherwise: E.g., "Each weekday morning, Joe Smith gulps coffee at his residence before driving his vehicle through commuter traffic to his workplace at a generic office park, where he attends meetings, looks at a computer screen at his cubicle, and drinks more coffee."

But the enforced social distancing has increased the prevalence of telecommuting, providing a new "angle" for reporters to write about Joe Smith's routine. To its credit, the Sep. 4 Business Journal quoted a contrarian developer:

I don't like and I don't appreciate when people speak with a vengeance on "Everything is going to change, things are never going back to what they were and people are going to work from home forever," he said. That, to me, is simply not fair. Nobody has a crystal ball. At the end, we're all creatures of habit.29

Unfortunately, such feature articles contribute to the normalization of officialdom’s medically and financially questionable practices. Furthermore, now that many more people can and do work remotely, the media has began writing features about the dissatisfactions of telecommuting. The practice isn't really a complete solution, and contributes to what businessman Peter Thiel terms "misalignment."30 Under the circumstances, "remote" really means our chances of working again.31

Meanwhile, the first 3D-printed houses are offered for sale in East Austin. However, they cost $400,000 each, which forfeits the price competitiveness such houses were supposed to offer.32 Then again, with the dearth of available houses, the builders can get away with it.33 Perversely, the power elite's policies will ultimately staunch the influx of newcomers, once they finally wise up, and then house prices might drop.

Neighborhood News

A faulty power strip sparked an apartment complex fire at Metric Boulevard and Rundberg Lane on March 17.34 KXAN's traffic Web page reported collisions at Metric and Rundberg Lane on March 9, at Highway 183 and Burnet Road on March 15, and at Duval Road and MoPac Expressway and at Metric and Energy Drive on March 24.

Sidewalks along Burnet between Braker and Kramer lanes are under construction.35

Ownership of Mighty Fine Burgers Fries & Shakes has changed hands.36 P. Terry's has raised its minimum wage.37 One business has opened and one has relocated to the neighborhood.38

Home Archives


1 Paterson, W.S.B. The Physics of Glaciers, rev. ed. Oxford, U.K.: Pergamon Press, 1981: 5.

2 Autullo, Ryan. "Austin Council Issues Apology." AAS 5 Mar. 2021: 1A+; Sanders, Austin. "Council: A Not-Just-Symbolic Promise to Lift Up Black Austin." AC 12 Mar. 2021: 12-13.

3 Reeves, Richard V. Dream Hoarders. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institute Press, 2017: 105-106.

4 AD No. 227n1 (July 29, 2020); Sullivan, Beth. "Abbott Lifts COVID Rules: Will a Surge Follow?" AC 5 Mar. 2021: 16.

5 Cobler, Nicole. "Miller Rebukes Abbott Over Virus Response." AAS 17 Oct. 2020: B1-2; Hall, Katie. "GOP Activist Sues Abbott Over Mask Order." AAS 11 Jul. 2020: B1-2; Herman, Ken. "Texas GOP to Leaders: Back Off." AAS 19 Jul. 2020: B1-2; Tilove, Jonathan. "State Party at Odds With Governor." AAS 19 Jul. 2020: B1-2; Tilove. "Texas GOP Chair Ousted." AAS 21 Jul. 2020: A1+; Tilove. "Texas GOP Sticks With In-Person Convention." AAS 4 Jul. 2020: A1+.

6 Lindell, Chuck. "Miller Sues Senate Over Testing Rule." AAS 25 Mar. 2021: 5B; Tilove. "Abbott Defends Pandemic Response." AAS 17 Jul. 2020: A1+.

7 Cox, Mike. The Texas Rangers, Vol. I: Wearing the Cinco Peso, 1821-1900. New York City: Forge, 2008: 208.

8 Clark-Madison, Mike. "The Unmasking." AC 19 2021: 16-17; Johnson, Krista. "Health Officials Oppose Ending Mask Mandate." AAS 3 Mar. 2021: 1A+; Herman. "Abbott to Texans: You're on Your Own." AAS 3 Mar. 2021: 8A; Molina, Maribel. "Austin-Area Leaders Critical of Abbott's Action on Masks." AAS 15 Jul. 2020: B1+.

9 Cape, Jessi. " 'Our House, Our Rules': Austin Restaurants School the Governor on Limited Goverment." AC 19 2021: 20; Hawkins, Lori, and Matthew Odam. "Business React After Abbott Drops Mask Mandate." AAS 3 Mar. 2021: 1A+; Organ, Mike. "Residents Split Over Order to End Mask Mandate." AAS 4 Mar. 2021: 6A; Osborn, Claire. "Williamson Businesses Differ on Face Masks." AAS 7 Mar. 2021: 1B+; Macias, Rebecca. "Business Owners Stick to Masks." AAS 12 Mar. 2021: 3B; Rascoe, Rachel. "Austin Music Stays the Course on Mask Precautions." AC 19 Mar. 2021: 42.

10 Price, Asher. "Politically Connected Among Bailout Recipients." AAS 13 Jul. 2020: A1+; Recio, Maria. "Relief Heads to Central Texas." AAS 15 Mar. 2021: 1A+;  Sechler, Bob, and Price. "Austin Firms Get Billions to Stay Afloat." AAS 7 Jul. 2020: A1+; Welsh, Tom. "Lockdown Has Legitimised Bad Service and We're Not Even Meant to Complain." Sunday Telegraph 17 Jan. 2021: 37.

11 Choi, Hojun. "Protesters Decry Abbott's Revoking of Mask Order." AAS 9 Mar. 2021: 1B.

12 Hawkins. "H-E-B, Other Grocers Say Masks Are Still Required." AAS 9 Mar. 2021: 1-2B.

13 Osbourne, Heather. "Austin Grapples With How to Reopen." AAS 20 Mar. 2021: 1B+.

14 Drummond, Cameron. "Bastrop County Lifts Mandate." AAS 27 Mar. 2021: 3B; Drummond. "Bastrop Lifts Mask Requirement." AAS 12 Mar. 2021: 3B.

15 Osbourne. "Austin Holds off on Lifting Guidelines." AAS 10 Mar. 2021: 1B+; Sullivan. "Masks Stay, Despite State Rollback." AC 12 Mar. 2021: 14.

16 Clark-Madison, op. cit., 17.

17 Korte, Lara. "UT Bans Parties for Fall Semester." AAS 1 Aug. 2020: B1+; Korte. "UT Regents Urged to Limit In-Person Classes." AAS 21 Aug. 2020: B1-2; Price. "UT Faces $162 Million Coronavirus Loss." AAS 12 Sep. 2020: A1+; Sullivan. "Forty Acres of Anxiety: UT Students Return to Campus." AC 21 Aug. 2020: 18; Seipp, Skye. "What Is the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 Variant, and How Is UT-Austin Reacting to Its Arrival?" DT 12 Feb. 2021: 5.

18 Choi et al. "Austin-Area Schools to Keep Mask Rules." AAS 4 Mar. 2021: 1B+; Morse, Clara Ence. "AISD, Union Still at Odds Over In-Person Teaching." AC 16 Oct. 2020: 17; Sullivan. "Feeling TEA Pressure, AISD Goes Back to Campus." AC 8 Jan. 2021: 12-13; Taboada, Melissa B. "Austin Schools Reopen." AAS 6 Oct. 2020: A1+;  Taboada. "Austin Teachers Resign As Classrooms Reopen." AAS 13 Oct. 2020: A1+.

19 AD No. 226 (June 22, 2020); AD No. 227, op. cit.; AD No. 228 (Dec. 8, 2020); Bundgaard, Henning et al. "Effectiveness of Adding a Mask Recommendation to Other Public Health Measures to Prevent SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Danish Mask Wearers: A Randomized Controlled Trial." Annals of Internal Medicine Mar. 2021: 335-343; "Community Mitigation Guidelines to Prevent Pandemic Influenza -- United States, 2017." Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 21 Apr. 2017: 1-32; Ealy, Henry et al. "COVID-19 Data Collection, Comorbidity & Federal Law: A Historical Retrospective." Science, Public Health Policy, and The Law 12 Oct. 2020: 1-25; Blackburn, Justin et al. "Infection Fatality Ratios for COVID-19 Among Noninstitutionalized Persons 12 and Older: Results of a Random-Sample Prevalence Study." Annals of Internal Medicine Jan. 2021: 135-136; Guy, Gery P et al. "Association of State-Issue Mask Mandates and Allowing On-Premises Restaurant Dining With County-Level COVID-19 Case and Death Growth Rates -- United States, March 1-December 31, 2020." Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 12 Mar. 2021: 350-354; La Scola, Bernard et al. "Viral RNA Load As Determined by Cell Culture As a Management Tool for Discharge of SARS-CoV-2 Patients From Infectious Diseases Wards." European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases 27 Apr. 2020: 1059-1061.

20 Hardison, Kathryn. "City Hall Took Too Long." ABJ 30 Oct. 2020: A11.

21 "Get There ATX Can Help You Find New Ways to Get Around Austin." Austin Utilities Now Mar. 2021: 1.

22 Autullo. " 'Baptism by Fire.' " AAS 4 Feb. 2021: A1+; Osborn. "Austin Faces Lawsuit Over Homeless Hotel." AAS 14 Mar. 2021: 3B; Osborn. "Officials Seeking to Stop Homeless Hotel." AAS 11 Feb. 2020: 1B+; Sanders, Austin. "City Falls Behind on Housing Goals." AC 28 Jan. 2021: 14-15.

23 "Austin FC Inaugural Schedule Set." ABJ 19 Mar. 2021: 8; Oldman, Jain. "Countdown to Kickoff in Capital City." CIN 25 Feb. 2021, Northwest Austin ed.: 1+.

24 Lindell. "Judge Lets Austin Keep Mask Mandate in Place." AAS 27 Mar. 2021: 1A+; Lindell. "Judge: Paxton Lawsuit Can Continue." AAS 25 Mar. 2021: 1-2B; Lindell. "Paxton Sues Austin to End Rule." AAS 12 Mar. 2021: 1-2B;  Villalpando, Nicole. "When Will Pandemic End? It Depends on Us." AAS Mar. 13 2021: 1A+.

25 Lindell. "Delay Lets Austin Enforce Mask Rules for Now." AAS 13 Mar. 2021: 1-2B.

26 Autullo. "Legislation Would Rename I-35 Stretch to Mock Adler." AAS 2 Mar. 2021: 1-2B.

27 AD No. 127 (Sep. 21, 2009); AD No. 228, op. cit.; Bingamon, Brant. "And Now, We Know." AC 22 Jan. 2021: 10; Bradshaw, Kelsey. "MetroRail Train Hits Vehicle on Tracks, Man Injured." AAS 17 Mar. 2021: 2B; Jankowski, Philip. "South Lamar Going on a 'Road Diet.' " AAS 22 Dec. 2020: A1+; Lindell. "Eckhardt Disputes Ethics Agency Rebuke." AAS 4 Jan. 2021: B1+; Sanders, Austin. "Good Cop, Mad Cop." AC 22 Jan. 2021: 14-15; Sanders. "A Path Toward Permanent Housing." AC 25 Dec. 2020: 12.

28 Anderson, Will. "Statesman Newsroom Votes to Unionize." ABJ 5 Mar. 2021: 5; Montaño, Jose Benjamin. "Strength in Numbers." AC 5 Mar. 2021: 20.

29 Salazar, Daniel. "Many agree, SH 130 Is Place to Be." ABJ 4 Sep. 2020: 18.

30 Nilles, Jack M. Making Telecommuting Happen: A Guide for Telemanagers and Telecommuters. New York City: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1994; Thiel, Peter A., and Blake Masters. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or, How to Build the Future. New York City: Crown Business, 2014: 113.

31 Schwab, Klaus, and Thierry Malleret. COVID-19: The Great Reset. Geneva: Forum Publishing, 2020.

32 Cronin, Mike. "Icon Selling First 3D-Printed Homes to Public in East Austin." ABJ 12 Mar. 2021: A10.

33 Barbaro, Nick. "The Housing Conundrum." AC 25 Mar. 2021: 14; Novak, Shonda. "Austin's Housing Market Strained." AAS 20 Mar. 2021: 1A+; Rohit, Parimal M. "Locals Being Left in the Dust." ABJ 19 Mar. 2021: 10.

34 Choi. "4 Displaced After Fire at Apartment Complex." AAS 20 Mar. 2021: 2B.

35 Oldman. "City Starts Work to Add Sidewalks Along Burnet Road." CIN Feb. 2021, Northwest Austin ed.: 8.

36 "New Ownership." CIN Feb. 2021, Northwest Austin ed.: 7.

37 Odam. "Austin's P. Terry's Boosts Minimum Wage for Workers." AAS 5 Mar. 2021: 5-6B.

38 "Impacts." CIN Feb. 2021, Northwest Austin ed.: 6.