Calling The Manager
Governors who stand down to Elon Musk's behavior promote public servants the bully abuses. It's the least they can do, and they do it.
Happy New Year, EV Farmers, and welcome to 2021. May this year bring safety, health and happiness to you, family, friends and colleagues. Rivals and enemies too, if you’re up for it.
Before moving forward in the arc of darkness, a bit of backfill. In “Anywhere else, man, this guy would go to jail” we saw Tesla tell OSHA managers to keep their inspectors away from its Nevada factory, then defy a judge’s warrant to allow inspectors in.
Tesla then called OSHA’s boss -- Michael Brown, the Director of Nevada’s Department of Business and Industry -- who negotiated a sweetheart deal. Not only would Tesla not face consequences for defying a judge’s warrant, but OSHA inspectors still wouldn’t be allowed to inspect the entire facility.
But did Tesla call OSHA’s boss’s boss?
The Governor of Nevada promoted Brown to Executive Director of the Nevada Governor’s Office for Economic Development a few months later.
Brown’s promotion recalls when Tesla received county approval to reopen its Fremont (Alameda County) factory in mid-May 2020, mid-pandemic. California Governor Newsom promoted then-Alameda County health officer Dr. Erica Pan -- whom Musk abused on social media -- to State Epidemiologist in July 2020.
A simplified timeline begins in mid-March, when Alameda County imposed shelter-in-place orders. Instead of first consulting with Alameda County whether luxury vehicles qualified as National Critical Infrastructure, Tesla announced it would keep its factory open.
Alameda County disagreed, declaring that -- unlike food distribution -- the manufacture of automobiles was not an essential service. Around March 19, Tesla eventually agreed to stop manufacturing vehicles on March 23. On March 26, speaking to an employee who feared retribution, The Verge reported that Tesla workers were still manufacturing vehicles.
Jumping to late April, Musk called California’s shelter-in-place orders fascist on Tesla’s quarterly conference call. ESG / ethical investing funds stayed quiet during the Vern Unsworth pedophile slander, so it’s not a surprise none spoke up here. Musk could shoot a person on Fifth Avenue and not lose fan support. That kind of power served Trump’s interests. The public interest, not so much.
Just as Animal Farm’s pigs were worse masters than the men they overthrew, Musk is worse than established auto company executives on every dimension. (Newer readers, that’s where this substack’s title “EV Farm” comes from.)
On Thursday May 7, California lifted state-level restrictions on manufacturing, emphasizing that these changes did not override County decisions. Tesla announced it would resume manufacturing anyway. Then sued the County. It reopened its factory on Monday, to the surprise of California’s Governor and a rebuke from Alameda County.
Summoning the courage of Ted Cruz, Governor Newsom stammered that Musk’s fight was with County officials, not the state -- and stayed silent when Musk denigrated the professionalism and competence of Alameda County’s Health Officer.
In Newsom’s defense, ESG funds did so too. Calling democratic governments fascist may be MAGA-adjacent, but remains on-side by most Environmental, Social and Governance investment standards. Tomorrow’s tycoons have taken note.
Having strong-armed California’s governments, Tesla dropped its lawsuit a few days later.
And in July 2020, a few months after she stayed silent in the face of Musk’s abuse -- and no doubt harassment from Musk’s twitter mob -- Governor Newsom promoted Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Erica Pan to California State Epidemiologist.
Dr. Pan joins Mr. Brown in the roster of professionals abandoned to Tesla’s law-optional M.O. by their political masters. We can only imagine the anger they felt at the betrayal.
From afar, their shortly-subsequent promotions come across as redress for putting up with Musk’s abuse and stan-amplified indignities. The career-advancement version of “hush money” for keeping their silence, by political leaders bullied by Tesla themselves. A fuller graphical timeline is below.
For sure there have been, are, and will be others. As we find them EV Farm will chronicle them here.