Joining the show this week are small business owner John Bates of InterStellar BBQ on 620, Maram Museitif, on the City's Human Rights Commission (and board member with Central Health) and musical guest Sonya Jevette
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Hello Austin. Hello District 6. Hello Clawback viewers! Welcome to the latest edition of the Clawback Live. We've got a really great show. put together for everybody today. Some really awesome guests, two of which are District 6 residents. constituents are musical guest, Sonya Jeveette and the owner of Interstellar BBQ, John Bates, and then the amazing Maram Museitif from Central Health will be joining us. But I wanna start just with a little review of what's been going on at the city. You know, stuff moves very quickly. Over the last - what feels like a year but has really been - like four weeks, we've seen a lot of sometimes conflicting information coming out of the federal government. We've seen the governor have kind of a late start, but then have a lot more engagement here recently. He did a press conference today. We'll talk a little bit about that. And then, of course, the Mayor and the City of Austin started with that cancellation of South by which, at the time was concerning. But definitely seems like the right decision to make. Just in the last week, as I've got my notes here, just in the last week my job as a City Council Member is somehow busier. I don't know how we're busier from home than when we were coming into the office. I have the honor of chairing a few organizations. I chair the Community Activation Network. I chair the Economic Development Board at CAPCOG, which is the 10-county regional council of governments. We've had a few of those meetings. We're grouping up as a council members in small groups to talk about the COVID response, specifically, our relationship with the state and federal government, the long-term budget implications. You know, a large part of the city's budget is driven through sales tax. Those sales tax numbers are going to be significantly lower, not just in next year's fiscal budget, but it's impacting us right now, obviously. And so we're looking at how we can be proactive to adjust to those issues. We still talk, we have a still have a regular phone call with our District 6 APD District representatives. That has been a really fruitful exercise where we hear right from the officers who are working the streets in District 6 about what they're seeing, and then we can tell them what we're hearing from constituents – all really good, useful information. And then this week. I also did another webinar for small businesses. This one in partnership with all of our minority and ethnic Chambers of Commerce and the Austin Young Chamber. It was a really great webinar. We had a lots of folks participate and I'm really grateful and thankful to the LGBT Chamber, the Black Chamber, Hispanic Chamber, and Asian Chamber for being such great partners with each other as we work to ensure that all of the economic response measures are done with equity and are done in a way that every small business owner can get the information and understand what tools are gonna become available. The one tool that is gonna become available: If you're a small business owner, there has been a lot of consternation about the federal government, and how quickly the paycheck loans are coming. Whether or not they've run out. The Small Business Administration has had a little a couple of hiccups trying to get their money out the door. But the city of Austin has a bridge program which is ready. We are in the final stages of demoing the application. Hopefully we will see that launched for small businesses in Austin next week. Those are loans up to $30-35,000, which are intended for those who are going to be applying for the SBA loans – the small business loans – to get you a bridge so you can get to the SBA loans, which have a $2-million-dollar limitation. So more of a short-term option, and that is ultimately what the city's role is, and we don't have the financial tools to sustain a long term effort. That is really the federal government's job. They have the ability to do deficit spending. They have much more flexibility in the finances. State and local governments, we cannot do debt deficits, year over year, So we're doing everything we can to get folks bridged into those larger federal programs while the federal government – we'll say charitably – tries very hard to get their acts together. I think beyond what we hear coming out of the Rose Garden, I know that every level of government is full of really hardworking civil servants trying to do their best, even when the president is not doing his best, I say, to put it charitably. The governor's press conference today was also an interesting one. He's talking about reopening the state. This is not the time to be reopening. I'm gonna show you really quickly: This is the dashboard that covers Austin and Travis County. It includes the Williamson County portion of the City of Austin. I know it's a little confusing with the way the titles are. You can see that that curve is not peaking. We are not peaking. So this is not the time to be reopening. But the devil is in the details with the governor. We will see what his final orders look like and see how that's gonna impact us at the local level. And the same thing applies to the County orders. We had some really great work between Travis County and Williamson County. originally. I'm hopeful that that work will continue past the end of the month and we will see both of them continue to provide the same orders to both sides of District 6. I'm hearing that may not be true, but I'm hopeful that that will be true, and we'll talk a little bit more of that when we have Maram on the show towards the end.
John Bates of InterStellar BBQ
But the first person I wanna bring up is a local business owner. We haven't had an opportunity to bring on a small business owner from District 6 yet besides myself, but you know, I've been doing Web development for 20 years, and it's not really the same thing as having to run a restaurant like Interstellar BBQ. So I wanna bring on John Bates, owner of Interstellar BBQ. John, First: How are you doing? How is your family doing during this crisis? Well, Jimmy, I'm personally doing pretty good, families good. They're staying you know, in quarantine, and safe and sheltering in place – just kinda taking it one day at a time. That's great. I'm glad to hear that. That your family is healthy. You know, you've been a great participant and a public resource for the community in opening up your restaurant for community groups. I attend the far Northwest Progressives group, which you are so gracious in hosting. Tell me what it has been like as a restauranteur, as a small business owner, from from the moment that the order came down to now? Well, it's really been an exercise in like learning how to get outside of your comfort zone. Every day, kinda starting from the first initial orders to start changing how we're doing business has been an exercise and being flexible and learning how can we take our business that was set up to run in a very specific way, and be able to be nimble enough to change with the times and still be relevant. And then also, still make sure that we're upholding the standards that we have as far as cleanliness, and safety, and protecting our staff, while we're providing a service for the community. How have your employees been handling this? It's one thing to be a business owner - but it's a whole other thing - where, at least you have some semblance of control over your future. Have your employees been handling it well? Initially they were really scared like everybody, I would believe, in our particular line of work. There was some concern that we may not be able to stay open. But as a group we've worked together to kind of rethink our concept and how we do business. So I've actively put them involved in helping me reshape the business. So it's been really comforting to have everybody involved, you know, but it's it's tough times. You know, a lot of people are concerned about paying their rent, their utilities, scared of getting sick. The same fears we all have you know, but as as a group pulling together, we've created some stability, and I think that's adding a little bit of comfort in a time that's really stressful. That's really good. I know it is very difficult, and there's a lot of small business owners all across the city that are trying to figure out how to move forward. Have you looked into any of the programs? Have you tried applying to get some support for Intersteller? Yeah, I have. I made some decisions to forgo some of the SBA loans, because I didn't wanna take on a lot of debt, not knowing the future of the economy is gonna be like. So I didn't participate in the initial disaster relief loans. We did apply for the PPP assistance, the date it opened up we went through Bank of America, which was the banking group that we had the most time spent with, we've worked with them the most. It's been a little difficult though, because it seems to be moving extremely slow. We've been real timely In getting all of our stuff in the day of, but, just not seeing any movement from Bank of America and at this point, I'm kinda concerned that we've missed the opportunity with the funds having dried up at this point in time. Yeah, that's been really disappointing for us at the municipal level too, to see even these initial federal programs run out of money so quickly. Like I was talking about in the opening, the bridge loans that the city has created, this kind of first effort, was designed for folks applying for the SBA loans, but they aren't the only programs that we're working on. We're also programs from Workforce Solutions, that have been helping some folks. And then the State of Texas is announced the program. We're not quite sure the timing of its rollout, and I would hope that there will be other programs. I know Harris County, for example, did its own multi, You know double-digit million - dollar program for small businesses. I'm hopeful that Travis or Williamson County might do the same. Your your business is right on the line. No, you're you're just in Williamson County on that part of 620 right? Yeah. we're kind of on the edge of Austin and Cedar Park, the edge of Travis and Williamson County, so I kinda feel like a dual resident of multiple counties and cities. That's always a challenge and or opportunity for District 6 folks trying to manage all of our very complicated jurisdictions. Well, Thank thank you for being on the show, John. I wanna just say your restaurant has been such a great benefit to the community, and I only ever hear a positive things about what you're up. I see we've got at least one comment for you here from Facebook. I know a lot of folks really enjoy, and I have enjoyed eating at Interstellar. Thank you. Why don't you tell folks – you're doing takeout, you're doing pickup orders, and delivery. Why don't you tell folks how to how to get some of that amazing Interstellar BBQ. So interstellar is running Wednesday through Sunday. We open up at 11am and we serve food to about 5pm. The main the main way to order food, and the best way, is to order online at the InterstellarBBQ.com We are doing online ordering, Curbside delivery, and allowing takeout. Considering home delivery, maybe the next couple of weeks depending on how things go, but right now the best way to get our food is to go to our website and place your order, get some awesome barbecue, and spend some time with your family. That's great. John, Thank you so much for joining the show. I know you're you're dealing with lunch orders right now. so I'm gonna let you go, but again, thank you so much, and everyone go get yourself some some of that amazing, Interstellar BBQ. Thanks John. Alright. Good to see you yeah. Yeah, I have the pleasure of going there at least once a month with the Far Northwest Progressives group, but I know that that they make themselves available for a lot of other entities. It's a great, locally owned business, the very type of business we wanna make sure that we're helping sustain through this very difficult time. Get the title over there.
So my next guest is we're gonna bring on our musical guest. I'm really excited about bringing Sonya onto the show. She does some really cool stuff as a musician so Sonya! Hello! How are you doing? Thanks for having me. Thanks thanks for being on the show! First off, how how are you holding up? How is your family doing during the crisis? My family is spread out throughout Texas, so they're doing very well, my mother and father in Dallas, but I have family here as well. We're doing good. Everybody's – the kids are probably not having the most fun, but they're doing well. They're all learning. Glad to hear that. You know the the first thing that happened in Austin was the cancellation of South by and My office worked hard to start engaging with the music community, which was facing a pretty big challenge with the cancellation of South by But things expanded very quickly after that. Tell me how has this impacted your work as a musician? Like everybody else that's a musician: less gigs that are public, more online streaming gigs. Many cancellation of gigs and just reevaluating in adjusting so Um, Yeah! Well, that's I know that it's really challenging for everyone, and just as the city is working on small business resources, we are also working on resources for individuals that includes musicians. A fund that we've approved at the Council meeting a week ago hopefully will become available quickly through other nonprofits. And I know some of the musicians non profits are looking into participating in that program. But since you brought it up, the the streaming – I understand that you, that you've been doing some online music for a while. Not just streaming shows? Correct! I had to find a way to play, so I started learning how to do online broadcasting through a show called Second Life. Second Life you are live streaming into a stream, into a venue. So, I'm an Avatar in a game. There she is! And I play live in the game, and they pay me. They pay me to play in the game. The people that brought me in this game, were playing 20 hours a week, and they were making some very large nice numbers. That's amazing. How did how did you even get into that? I was on another online program called The Stage TV, and I had some people that were in Second Life that said "You need to come over here. Come try this out. See what this is about." I felt like I had to be a rocket scientist to learn, but I love it. It keeps me performing and keeps me engaged with people. So I like that. What is that like? I mean, do you have, is there an audience that is interacting with you? Oh, yeah, some shows there's anywhere from, I don't know 25 to a hundred avatars that are live in the game that talk to you and try to chat with you at the same time while you're performing, and then they can interact by dancing or getting on stage, or just just at a real-life show so I say I play in three realms of reality: Real life. This is online, and then Second Life. Wow. Wow. yeah, that might be our best option for getting outside of our homes and feeling a sense of normalcy. You'd have to be a completely different reality at this point. I'm really glad that you're on to to share some music with us, but I also understand that you started doing live music at Starbucks. Yes, I've been a partner for over 13 years, and the store I'm currently at, 6374, What's up! I asked my store manager if I could have live music. Her name is Cabell: Hey girl! And she said, Yeah. Why not? And for two and a half years I hosted singer-songwriter showcase at the Starbucks at my store. Amazing talented artists that are local in the Austin, Texas area. So look forward to getting back to that. That's that's awesome. I've not heard of Starbucks having live music before. It's it's in the program. No one has tapped into it. We're the only store that was doing the live music out of 700 stores in our region. So there may be someone else doing it. But I'm the only one that I know of that was doing it for that long of a time period. That's awesome! Talk about really bringing Austin into the store. And they got paid! They get paid. I would hope so. Yeah. Yeah. Oh yeah. I think Starbucks can do that! Well, thanks. Thanks, Sonya. So I think you've got a song you're gonna share with us. This song was my title track from last year: #2019Superhero is what it's called, so: I wanted to be a Super Hero / Help someone who was in need / I didn't know my super power And in time it really came to me. Oooooh, it came to me. Whoa it came to me. Guitar I didn't know. Now I sing and play my guitar. And now I sing and play my guitar. Yay, That was amazing! Thank you! That was so beautiful. I I need a sound board, some the sound effects, so we can have some crowd applause or maybe some Second Life Avatars that could OOOP! pop up here and everybody can start cheering right. That was that was really beautiful, Sonya. Thank you. Thank you for coming on the show and sharing your music with us. If folks want to find your music, I know we've got your social media up here on the screen. How can folks track you down? My music is the My name is Sonya Jevette. It's on Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, all the all the social media, all of that too. Thank you for having me. I really appreciate you being letting me come on your show, councilman. Well, thanks, Sonya and and congrats on having some really innovative parts of your work and for bringing live music to Starbucks. That's pretty cool too. Thank you for joining the show. That That was awesome. So glad that we bring folks like Sonya onto the show. It's such a hard part of of this crisis, to not have that live music experience, something that's really really special for the City of Austin – that we have such a vibrant community of artists and musicians like Sonya.
My final guest, my third guest today in the un- Enviable position to follow the musical guest - is the amazing Maram Museitif, who is on the board for Central Health and on the City's Human Rights Commission and all around amazing advocate for public health. Maram. Thank you for coming out. Thank you for having me appreciate it. Yeah. I'm so glad that you're able to join us. Let me get the title changed there. You you are such a strong advocate for what's going on in in the world of public health, not just because of the crisis. I mean you have held that very strong position in that way, and I'm so glad that you are one of the City's appointees to the Central Health Board. But before we talk about Central Health, I wanna start just by talking a little bit about you know the work you and I did together right at the beginning of the orders and you texted me. I want you to tell the folks what happened. So it was Thursday evening on March 12, I received a message from our Muslim community asking for guidance. As you know, we as Muslims, let me give you background. We have a Friday prayer we where we congregate on thousands all across this prayer. So I received this call on Thursday evening, our Muslim community's seeking guidance How do we move forward? Should we based on, should we cancel, should we pray? should we not? and the City at that time as this is unprecedented situation, they didn't have really a lot of guidance to follow through. And thankful I reached out to you, and you connected me to the City, and we talked and based on the recommendations and CDC's guidance guidelines decided to give my strong recommendation to cancel a prayer. And I'm really thankful for Muslim community for stepping up and following through with my recommendation. It took a lot of pushing and persistence, but they really – my kudos to them. It was very emotional that they finally agreed to cancel the prayer because the health and wellness of our community is what matters at the end, and they were with cancelling this prayer. we were able to really mitigate a future outbreak If it ever happened all it takes one individual to have, to be contagious with this virus, and as right now as you know, Ramadan is coming, it's around the corner, next week and this is a month of Holy Month for us all to congregate pray, and it's about community and breaking fast with one another. It's gonna be really different and difficult for many of us as we all talk about health, emotional wellbeing is really a critical component to health They're really stepping up to the forefront and taking on the lead and break doing many great initiatives as providing food and bringing health awareness to the community and I commend them all and really, their actions have influenced the other faith leaders as well. And here we are today to the new normal of life. Let's hope it's not a new normal! but We don't know. You're right We don't know; there are more unknowns than knowns, in what we're facing. But thank you for reaching out to me so I can help, but for your leadership in the Muslim community to help do what was, what is, and remains the right thing to to limit our social interactions that we can inhibit the spread of the virus And for talking about Ramadan, we had a faith leaders from the Christian faith on the show last week talking about Easter, and so I'm I'm glad that you brought up Ramadan. The impact is being felt across every faith tradition and every community, and I'm really thankful for your leadership in that area. You're also on the Central Health Board, which is a pretty important element of this entire crisis. I'm not even sure where to begin, so I mean just tell me at least at a high level, like what are you experiencing as leadership of a health entity at this time? Well, first of all you know Texas didn't never expanded Medicaid. And we have many uninsured here in Texas, and I really wanna thank our Travis County residents for stepping up and doing good without even knowing it, and within their property taxes were able to provide health to those who need it most in our community. So Central health has a wonderful team, and we are comprised of an enterprise with our FQHCs, our federally qualified health clinics, CommUnity Care, our health plans Sendero. And they're really stepping up, and we're learning, the process is really very fluid, and there's many lessons down the road, but we are doing all we can to provide health and not just health care to our low- income, underserved communities in Travis County. So, and in collaboration with the City of Austin Public Health, as probably you know in the past when we met, you know, I've been a very strong advocate of bridging both public health and healthcare because that's the only way we can really improve health outcomes. And now given the sensitivity of this, you know this virus: The only way we can contain it is by testing, screening, and contact tracing is a critical component, so we can contain it, and then isolation. And without public health, we can't do this work. And Central Health is really stepping up. I really wanna commend them and their efforts. I also wanna thank and commend the community for stepping up and being the vocal voice and really brought accountability Like you guys are not providing this, you're not doing this, in guiding us through this unprecedented conditions situation that we don't know. It really has impacted many people, and it also the situation has amplified being equities within our community, especially among our African-American and people community of color. And we are working really tirelessly to address their health needs. It's gonna take a village in collaboration with our amazing Dell Medical School, and the City so we're all in this together. Yeah, I had a conversation with Doctor Pritesh Gandhi from People's Clinic who is also a candidate for Congress. And he brought up the testing and the contact tracing being really critical elements about how we are going to get through this crisis. I know the City announced this week that we are going to be launching free testing. But it's still going to be limited to folks who are exhibiting a certain set of symptoms. It's not gonna be broad community testing yet, and I know there are some initiatives about contact tracing, but it is really both of those things at the same time that are going to be required. Absolutely in order for us to contain it, we need to test, we need to complete the contact tracing for all individuals, and isolation. But as you mentioned, we're limited in testing. Right now, we've actually moved forward. We've initially, Central Health had one testing site at Hancock. Now they expanded it to two additional sites in Del Valle And Colony Park. Unfortunately, those testings are not there every day, but we are working with whatever we have and also as you probably know, the limited and shortages of the PPE. That's what really has limited a lot of the work that our clinics are doing. CommUnity Care is really trying to conserve these PPEs and also to keep our staff and patients safe. Yeah. And to that point, Ruben's asked a question about how the rates of infection are being - how close are they to reality, if we're also having a challenge with testing, especially in our low income communities? And I know that you've done a lot of work about health inequities and measuring and trying to address those. We are seeing something really dramatic happening with COVID across the country. What are you seeing in terms of Central Health's area? And what steps do you think we should be taking thay maybe we're not taking now? So last last night, we had an emergency board meeting. We talked about, we're looking into a really a strategy. How do we move forward and how what kind of guidance do we provide to our leadership to move to address the most pressing issues? There's a lot of unknowns and there's a lot of work that needs to be done in terms of data collection and accuracy of data. But there's a lot that is going behind the scenes. We don't have the answers to the solutions all of em, but we are working really hard and providing our guidance to our leadership, and really trying to address inequities, increase testing. In addition to that is really bringing up the voice, and we don't - already our community is suffering and due to COVID, and many of our community lost their jobs and the increasing demands for healthcare has elevated to a pace that we all need to stand up and address those needs, but with limited resources that we have, it, it's quite challenging. Yeah. I wanna bring the dashboard back up again. Folks can find this on the City's website or on my website, ATXD6.org And the city: Austintexas.gov /covid-19. As we've evolved this Dashboard We've done a better job, adding the race and ethnicity breakdown in terms of infection rates. So this is percent of the total, and you can see the chart still goes up. We've crossed the thousand case threshold. And we're seeing that our infection rate is not directly tracking with our demographics - more white and black, less Hispanic, and then when you get into the deaths it it kind of exacerbates that Even farther, but again, I just wonder how accurate these numbers are given the challenges that the state and federal government haven't been able to provide testing capacity. So I probably - you know these tests. I don't know if it's really reflective of our patient population, giving that not many of our population has been tested so I would ask for further testing in more of the marginalized communities to be more reflective of the inequities We don't really have an accurate sense of how many have been tested, how many have been tested, but I know as far as we've had about around roughly 1,500 or so of our patients that have been screened or tested for COVID and about a thousand or so have been also tested positive. So the data that you're reflecting is only Austin, but we are At Central Health, we're providing care to Travis. Not just the City of Austin, so as you can see, it's not very reflective of our patient population, that data. So that's that's gonna be really good work that I think you and I should continue to work on. Absolutely. There are some that the assumption that data does cover all of Travis County, in addition to the City of Austin. So if there's a data disconnect, then you and I are the best people to help address that. And Central Health is working on it, and we're trying to figure out the best way, how to translate the data in the best way to to better have a better picture of the inequities that is happening along our counties. And in addition, I really wanted to touch base, something that really came up to my attention is the masks. Several of our community members are having a difficult time of really finding best resources and supplies for these masks, and I hope that we, that you and I can work on this to address providing supplies for those who need it as well. So that's another issue that has come up to my attention as a barrier for many of those individuals living in these poor neighborhoods. The lack of access for these masks that are really now mandated, and it can really control the spread of this virus. But I really wanna commend you and commend the city, on moving forward, moving the needle in this unprecedented situation. We, we're not experts in this, but we're doing all our best, and science is our guidance. And we're following through in the health and wellness of our community is what matters the most. And addressing these health needs, these pressing health needs and looking at a patient as a whole, in addition to really addressing the health needs beyond the clinical walls, has been really the greatest motivator of all. Is it really improving the health of everyone in this county and city and state. Thank you so much Maram. I'm gonna pull up the the Central Health page. I know they've got COVID resources as well. Central Health.net /covid- 9 but most specifically. I know you wanted to point out for folks who are uninsured. Yes and so Central Health really only provides care for those who are uninsured and follow through a certain income. So the best resource is to call this number and they will help them and assist. Central Health's Web page has all the resources they need. If you qualify for our health services is really zero co-pay for individuals so we don't wanna add any additional financial burden on them. Central Health is also working on providing additional community conversations and providing the more education and awareness about COVID-19 as well. So that's the best tool for individuals to really reach out and to seek any information they find helpful. That's great. Thank you so much for for joining the show. One comment I'm just gonna bring up: You're doing a great job! Oh, I don't know. Thank you. I'm trying my best. We all feel we're not doing enough. We're we're trying to do as much as we can, and I'm really thankful to have you at Central Health to be continuing to push hard on the inequities that that hopefully in Austin, in Central Texas, we can avoid the very dramatic differences in outcomes that we're seeing in other communities in the country. Well, I appreciate you and everything that you're doing and collaboratively, we can all do it. As you know, I'm all about empathy and being empathetic to our community, and putting ourselves in their shoes, and addressing their health needs, and being their voice as well. Be safe and thank you so much. Thank you Maram! What a great show! Thanks again to to John, and Sonya and Maram for joining the show this week - for being really out there trying to survive. Our small businesses, our Health professionals, and it is such a moving target. We're almost to 40 minutes, so I'm gonna wrap up the show, but I've got my mask here right. I don't know if you can hear my voice still through the mask, but make sure that you're wearing your mask. If you don't have access to masks please talk to your friends and neighbors. There's a lot of resources popping up as quickly as we can. I just hope everyone is staying safe, and staying healthy, and most importantly, staying home! Thanks everybody!
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