AUSTIN, Texas - Mayor Steve Adler is under fire after taking a trip to Cabo San Lucas last month, while telling Austinites to stay home.
The mayor admitted he held a small wedding for his daughter here in Austin and flew on a private jet with mostly family and friends to Mexico. Adler maintains that he did not violate local travel orders, because at the time Austin was in stage three. But for months he had been telling residents to stay home and avoid non-essential travel.
Former Austin City Council member Ellen Troxclair said the mayor is being a hypocrite. “I don't have a problem with Mayor Adler's daughter getting married at a beautiful Austin hotel or him enjoying a vacation in Cabo with close friends and family. The problem is he did while telling the rest of us that we shouldn't be doing it,” said Troxclair.
“Rules for thee but not for me. The height of hypocrisy,” said Austin resident Mike Meroney.
Some like Robert Henneke want to hold the powerful accountable when it comes to their own rules. “I think it’s outrageous. Voters want to know the circumstances that led to that, where the private plane came from that took him and his entourage and whether it was paid for by taxpayer dollars,” he said.
Business owners said the news was especially frustrating for them because orders from the mayor's office have hurt their profits and forced many small businesses to close.
"It’s pretty shocking behavior. It’s pretty, 'do as I say, not as I do,' but it’s even worse because the things they are telling people to do are hurting people. They’re hurting the restaurants, they’re hurting other small businesses and people that work in those and depend on them and are doing a great job of operating safely," said Ellis Winstanley, co-owner of El Arroyo.
On Wednesday, Adler released a statement about the trip:
"I regret this travel. I wouldn’t travel now, didn’t over Thanksgiving and won’t over Christmas. But my fear is that this travel, even having happened during a safer period, could be used by some as justification for risky behavior. In hindsight, and even though it violated no order, it set a bad example for which I apologize."
The mayor points out the city was in stage 3 restrictions at the time he left and moved to stage 4 the following week.
"Don’t wait till you get caught and then give a half-apology about it," Winstanley said. "At the end of the day, he either means what he says or he doesn’t. And, regardless of stage 3 and what his Christmas plans are, he told people not to do it and then he went and did it. So does he believe what he said or not?"
Becky McMillan, founder of Your Minute Is Up, a campaign to recall the mayor, said there's been a spike in people requesting to sign the petition since news of Adler's Cabo trip. "Within 24 hours, probably 300-400 people will be signing," McMillan said.