Austin, TX, December 4, 2020 — Austin Mayor Steve Adler has taken flak in recent days since the Austin-American Statesman revealed that the mayor warned Austinites to stay at home while he was on a trip to Mexico.
“Traveling outside your community for gatherings and events” is a “high-risk activity” according to the City of Austin’s own safety guidelines.
In the video that Adler posted to Facebook from Mexico, he calls on residents to stay at home after briefly addressing the change in scenery of his weekdaily “Got A Minute” videos, which he normally shoots wearing a white collar in front of his office bookshelf instead of a blue bowling shirt in a taupe timeshare room.
“[It’s] not ‘Got A Minute’ in a traditional sense, kind of a prerecorded message,” Adler says.
Adler speculates in the video, posted on November 9, that “social engagements in the evening” have pushed case numbers upward.
“We think it’s social engagements in the evening… We’re looking at occupancy limits in restaurants. Nobody wants to go there. Maybe we could just do it voluntarily, asking people to spend more time at home.”
“The thrust… is that our numbers are increasing, and everybody has to be aware of that, and we need to stay home if you can. Do everything you can to try to keep the numbers down. This is not the time to relax.”
As Adler notes in the video, cases had been rising during his trip. The day before the release of his video, Austin saw 152 new cases. Austin’s isolation facilities were holding “north of 40” people in quarantine the week of his video; the week before, there were only 19.
Adler apologized for his trip the same day, saying he had broken no law but failed to set a good example. He traveled to Cabo to celebrate his daughter’s wedding. The wedding, held outdoors, took place the day before with a reception of 20 guests. He also emphasized that his family took precautions on the trip and during the banquet the night before at the Hotel St. Cecilia in Austin, with all 20 banquet attendees undergoing testing. Seven of the wedding attendees joined Adler in Mexico, traveling to Cabo by private plane.
Adler drew criticism from mostly Republican elected officials with state Democrats and his fellow council members largely staying mum, though former Democrat candidate for Texas House District 106 Jennifer Skidonenko chided him on Twitter.
“Thanks for this, Adler. Haven’t seen my own son since Feb., and my Dad canceled his annual trip to come see us, but glad y’all got your super duper important wedding and vacation,” Skidonenko wrote.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson distanced himself from the list of state and local officials flouting their guidelines.
“For the record, I spent Thanksgiving inside my house in Dallas with my wife and our two kids, with whom I live year-round,” Johnson wrote above a link to a story about Democratic officials flouting their own COVID-19 guidelines.
Austin Councilman Jimmy Flannigan defended the mayor, noting his apology and pivoting to the vacation of his opponent Mackenzie Kelly, who had called Adler out.
“It’s a bad look for any elected — and the Mayor has apologized,” Flannigan said.
Texas Senator Dawn Buckingham (R-Abilene) chastised Adler in the context of his support for local COVID-19 restrictions that have hampered the Austin economy.
“Rules for thee but not for me! Yet another Democrat official disobeying the very rules they put in place as @MayorAdler tells Austinities to stay home as he jets off to Cabo while our small businesses are closing left and right,” Buckingham tweeted.
The senator later released a statement calling on Adler to resign.
State Representatives Mayes Middleton (R-Galveston) and Jared Patterson (R-Frisco) also accused Adler of hypocrisy and called for his ousting.
The Dallas Morning News also reported today that Texas lawmakers conferenced in Maui the week before Thanksgiving.