This article appeared online at on Tuesday, May 12, 2020: 

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, Inc., e-mailed his workers on Sunday, notifying them to come back to work on Monday. Titled “Furlough has Ended and we are back to Work in Production!” he told them, “We’re happy to get back to work and have implemented plans to help you keep safe as you return.”

Not so happy were Alameda County officials who thought they were in control of the situation. As The New reported on Monday, final negotiations over the conditions under which the county would allow Musk to restart operations were being held.

When those officials learned on Monday that Musk had restarted operations without their explicit permission, they issued a release warning Musk of “further enforcement measures” unless he complied with their diktat:

Today, May 12, we learned that the Tesla factory in Fremont had opened beyond [our] “Minimum Basic Operations” [plan]. 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 Order.

But, if Musk’s factory stays open, there will be consequences:

We are addressing this matter using the same phased approach we use for other businesses which have violated the Order in the past, and we hope that Tesla will likewise comply without further enforcement measures.

Musk responded by tweeting: “Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”

Musk then added: “California approved, but an unelected county official illegally overrode. Also, all other auto companies in US are approved to resume. Only Tesla has been singled out. This is super messed up!”

The governor, surprisingly, is putting the matter back onto the county, resisting the temptation to enter the fray:

We recognize localism, both from a county, previous questions about if a county wants to go further, and other counties that don’t want to even go as far as the state, which is the case in Alameda County.


My understanding is they have had some very constructive conversations with the folks at that facility, the county director. They’re working to focus on the health and safety of the employees at that facility. My belief and hope and expectation is as nearly as next week, they will be able to resume.

Translation: I’m staying out of this mess. You made it. You fix it. Have a nice day.

Just to make sure the message was clear to Alameda County officials, Newsom said during a call:

I have more moving forward in our ability to support a company that this state has substantially supported for now many, many years, and in return we have been beneficiaries of their incredible growth, ingenuity and innovative spirit. We look forward to many, many decades of that relationship.

Translation: Don’t mess this up, Alameda!

Musk responded to Newsom: “Thank you!”

Readers are invited to stay tuned as The New continues coverage of the clash between unelected bureaucrats enjoying their powers and capitalist entrepreneurs trying to serve customers profitably in a heavily regulated environment.

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