AMD, SOS, PR – It's War!

Shots fired in Aquifer battle ... and the target is you

AMD, SOS, PR – It's War!

Poor Hector Ruiz. All the CEO of Advanced Micro Devices wanted to do was build a little old 3,000-employee corporate campus smack dab in the middle of the Barton Springs Watershed, where corporate campuses – according to longstanding and much-hallowed norms – don't belong. More than six months after AMD announced its plans, opponents who see the move as high environmental treason just won't quit expressing their displeasure. What's a CEO to do?

Apparently, lean on the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce for help. AMD's director of community affairs, Allyson Peerman, wrote an e-mail to five chamber members Nov. 3, warning that the public relations campaign by "our opponents" was about to heat up. She described the latest PR stunt by Save Our Springs Alliance – distributing outraged letters to Ruiz's neighbors in California – and harrumphed ominously about the implications the battle may have for Austin's reputation.

"You should know that we are being questioned regularly by foreign journalists and individuals in other countries. So, the word is spreading globally that there is trouble in Austin, TX., related to a Fortune 500 company that has been a long-time, active corporate citizen of the community. You know where I'm headed on this. It could become an economic development issue if Austin is perceived as anti-business," she wrote. The e-mail also explains that the recipients were chosen because "each of you have asked what you can do to help with our efforts to build a new facility in Austin."

AMD spokesman Travis Bullard says it's not the opposition that bothers the company, but rather the emphasis on personally targeting Ruiz. "I think there's a difference between debating the merits of whether this is a good place to put a campus and what kind of campus we're going to build … and these harsh personal attacks that really don't contribute anything to the discussion," Bullard said.

Chamber head Michael Rollins, one of the recipients of the e-mail, agreed that the fracas could affect Austin's reputation. He said he was willing to take Peerman up on the request to meet but that the chamber was not considering any specific action on the issue. "We would honor any request to meet with a company that is either existing in Austin or looking to move to Austin. That's part of what we do," he said.

Because AMD insists that the list of options for stopping the bad PR onslaught does not include reconsidering its move to the Barton Springs Water-shed, the battle will no doubt continue until the last plumbago is planted at the new campus. In her e-mail, Peerman expressed concern that the neighbors of Ruiz's vacation home in Arizona could be next. (According to Colin Clark of SOSA, the organization didn't even know that Ruiz had a vacation home in Arizona before the e-mail. Whoops.) Clark stands by the tactics as a way to put a face on the issue. "Hector Ruiz and AMD are making a harsh attack on our community, on Barton Springs, and on decades of community work to protect Barton Springs," he said. Plus, if the move goes ahead, Ruiz will have a really, really short drive from his Barton Creek Estates home to the new campus on Southwest Parkway, a fact that SOSA finds verrrrry interesting. You'd think a guy with an annual car allowance – $24,000 in 2004, on top of his $950,000 salary and $1.2 million bonus – wouldn't mind a little bit of a commute.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More environment
Top 10 Environmental Stories
Top 10 Environmental Stories

Michael King, Jan. 1, 2016

Top 10 Environmental Stories
Top 10 Environmental Stories
Drought, wildfires, and more WTP4

Amy Smith, Jan. 6, 2012

More by Rachel Proctor May
Chartering Middle School
Chartering Middle School
Hoping to reach middle-schoolers who could go off track in a regular school setting, district moves forward with charter school plans

June 2, 2006

TAKS Scores Show Both Improvement and Trouble for AISD
TAKS Scores Show Both Improvement and Trouble for AISD
Numbers down for the crucial third and 11th grades

May 26, 2006

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

environment, Hector Ruiz, Colin Clark, Allyson Peerman, AMD, Michael Rollins

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle