Our Views: Would you get a tattoo for a Tesla job in Stanislaus County?

08/01/2014 5:01 PM

08/01/2014 5:03 PM

What could make Stanislaus County incredibly attractive, irresistible even, to Tesla?

The battery-powered car manufacturer is shopping around the western United States for a site for its new “gigafactory,” a plant in which 6,500 well-paid employees will make batteries for the company’s new lower-priced electric car. It’s expected to cost $4 billion and will be built by Panasonic (we thought they just made nice TVs).

To say the least, everyone wants this factory. It’s not just all those jobs and the accompanying payroll taxes, it’s also those stunningly beautiful cars, the prestige of hanging out with Tesla creator Elon Musk, and the ability to look down your nose at those who didn’t get it. One commentator likened this to the Super Bowl of economic development. The governor of New Mexico said she would convene a special session of the Legislature to pass special incentives; Texas is offering free land; Arizona talks of proximity to Mexico and expertise in logistics.

Stanislaus County has everything the others have: more than enough land at Crows Landing; Mexico is a day’s drive down Interstate 5 and no one has more logistics expertise than the folks working in those Patterson big boxes. Oh, and we’re just a quick hop over the Altamont from Tesla’s factory in Fremont.

Maybe that explains why Stanislaus County officials have been called by the state matchmaker, er, development agency, on Tesla’s behalf. Twice. Those nibbles have local officials cautiously excited. But the state agency has made it clear it’s driving this car. So we must be patient. That said, we want to help. Just the typical land, taxes and good workers pitches won’t be enough. We have to be creative, bold, brash. How about:

We can rename the nearest town to the factory Nikola, in honor of the original Tesla. Or how about Elon? Has a nice ring.

We can provide free tattoos of that distinctive Tesla “T” for anyone over 21. Cheeks, arms, other cheeks; anywhere you have room.

But we’re really serious, so let’s put our backsides, as in our wallets, into this effort. Instead of a self-help road tax, let’s pass a self-help Tesla tax and use the proceeds to provide every licensed driver (with an unblemished record and a Tesla tattoo) a down payment on a new Model S. Now that’s commitment. We’ll not only build the plant, we’ll help sell the cars.

Night Out is the ‘in’ thing to do

Modesto has a reputation to keep up, and in this case it’s a good one. Modesto was the top city in the state, and among the best in the nation, last year in participating in National Night Out. More than 250 block parties, barbecues and neighborhood gatherings took place as neighbors came out in droves just to be together.

This year’s Night Out is Tuesday, and it would be wonderful if even more people came out for hot dogs, games and just getting to know one another. There will also be Night Out events throughout the region, from Escalon to Turlock, where the city expects around 600 to turn out at Columbia Park.

Park cleanups help build community

It will be nice to have both McKinley Colony and Mildred Perkins parks on Snyder Avenue cleaned up today. But the greater value will be in having neighbors coming out to help each other achieve a common goal for the common good. Part of what makes our community special is that it goes out of its way to help each other. The cleanup sessions begin at 9 a.m. and end by 1 p.m. (hopefully before it gets too hot). Bring along your gloves, cleaning supplies and paint brushes if you have them.

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