Category Archives: Uncategorized

Secretary Arnie Duncan

(Community Matters) Had the pleasure of hosting a meeting of Central Texas Education leaders and US Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan this morning at the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce.

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Additional attendees included (the who’s who of CTx education):  Texas Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Raymund Paredes, Austin Community College President Dr. Richard Rhodes, Texas State University Provost Dr. Eugene Bourgeois, Austin Community College, Assistant to the President Dr. Molly Beth Malcolm,, University of Texas at Austin Ray Marshall Center Executive Director Chris T. King, Dr. Greg Cumpton, University of Texas at Austin Ray Marshall Center, Dr. Lindsay Page, University of Pittsburgh, Austin ISD Superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz, Round Rock ISD Superintendent Dr. Steve Flores, Manor ISD Superintendent Kevin Brackmeyer, The Hon. Kathy Hansen, President, San Marcos CISD Board of Trustees, The Hon. Phillip Boutwell, President, Hutto ISD Board of Trustees, The Hon. Marlin Thomas, President, Manor ISD Board of Trustees, The Hon. Pamela Waggoner, President, Leander ISD Board of Trustees, Austin ISD Chief Schools Officer Edmund Oropez, Darrell Pierce, President, SNAP Management Group & 2013 Austin Chamber Board Member, Edna Butts, AISD Intergovernmental Affairs, Sue McMillin, CEO, TG, Rich Haines, President, OneLogos, Ron Reed, Executive Producer, SXSWedu, Drew Scheberle, SVP, Fed/State Advocacy & Education/Talent.

Secretary Duncan was impressed by the Direct High School to College Enrollment Initiative led by the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. His quotes: “I don’t know that I’ve seen this level of strategy anywhere else . . . . This is inspiring to hear, the focused, regional approach. . . . Strategically, you are headed in the right direction.” Congrats to all those in attendance (myself excluded), they are doing exceptional work.

even before I could say anything this morning, the Secretary asked if I was related to Juan Sepulveda, my cousin. Scored me points – Juan’s a rock star, the former White House Liaison for Hispanic Education Excellence.

btw, had lunch with AISD Interim Superintendent Paul Cruz yesterday – impressive guy. 

Social Media & Kids

SocialMediaLandscape(Community Matters) Debriefed our social media initiative for Lemonade Day. Five preliminary findings:

  • social media not effective for kids under 12 or 13
  • social media for teens effective when they broadcast the messages
  • Facebook and Twitter most effectively reach adults – mentors, teachers & parents
  • Themes work well on Facebook
  • Sponsors like the mentions and perceive value

AISD Prevailing Wages

(Community Matters) I opposed a citywide living wage while on the Liveable City board 10+ years ago. But, today I am in favor of one. Our federal minimum wage adjusted for inflation is below that in the late 1960’s and even detractors claim to support pushing responsibility and authority closer to the people, to the states and municipalities.

Hard for AISD to take this step of requiring the federal prevailing wage since we’re living in such tough times with education funding. But, we’ve got to pay people at the lower ends of the pay scales more. We’re completely out of wack incentivizing executives to lower wages so dramatically while rewarding them so disproportionately. Even from a nonaltruistic perspective, our country’s economic engine depends on a strong middle class. Yes, yes, yes, I know . . . 400 million new members of the middle class around the world. But, they don’t make up for 40mm Americans slipping into lower & poverty. We elect politicians to protect our citizens and promote their well-being.

I say all this knowing that our global economy is rapidly further commoditizing manual & cognitive routine jobs of middle-skills – see Labor Market Polarization. 

Austin Rail

project connect
(Community Matters)
 I’ve spent a lot of time with rail advocates (& some with opponents) the last two weeks. I’ve learned: 1) the planning and decision making process (which was severely broken prior to this year) was extensive and closely followed required federal guidelines and included unprecedented public input, 2) the proposed rail line is a first step in a city wide system, probably the most feasible one (financially & operationally) which looks to population and congestion projections in 5 & 10 years, not today (ie., where the hockey puck will be), 3) the line doesn’t go to Mueller, 4) while in DC last week meeting with senators, congressmen and administration officials, they painted an optimistic picture of federal matching funds (cautiously optimistic). We haven’t seen the ballot proposal(s). It’s got to also include a serious investment in roads – that seriously impacts congestion. I’m looking forward to seeing the proposal. Advocates have a high hurdle effectively selling it to voters.

If they can’t with some reliability of passage, should they defer to next year?

Employment Nondiscrimination

(Community Matters) Huff Post: Obama Drafting Executive Order On LGBT Job Discrimination.

Such great news.

I loved being at the President’s signing of the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. I’d love to be at this signing, though I’ve not stayed engaged. Don’t imagine this time. Monumental.

Ed Reich (Robert Reich’s father)

(Community Matters) I pull back a lot on many things I read and agree with just because partisan rancor wears me out. This is just too insightful not to share. Do I think Pres Obama has not made mistakes? of course not. Do I think McCain & Sarah Palin or Mitt Romney & Paul Ryan would have been better administrations? Good God no. Would I ever listen to the neocons who sent us into Iraq originally – hell no.

I’m here in Florida visiting my father, Ed Reich, who, at the young age of 100 and a half, just came up with one of the most incisive assessments I’ve heard of what’s happened in Iraq: “George W. Bush and the crooks he hired are responsible for this. If they hadn’t lied to the American people about weapons of mass destruction we wouldn’t have lost nearly 5,000 American lives and god knows how many Iraqi lives, and stirred up this hornet’s nest. Obama has spent his entire administration cleaning up Bush’s shit, like someone with a giant pooper scooper.” Dad has lived during the administrations of 17 presidents. “Bush was the worst,” he says. “Reagan the second worst.”
I’m troubled by the President’s announcement that he’s sending 275 members of the military back into Iraq.

Handsome Father

handsome father(Community Matters) Major kudos to Andy Miller & Brian Stephens for launching Handsome Father, an organization that provides comprehensive information to gay men wanting to become fathers and connects them to the resources and services that helps.

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Steven & I enjoyed today’s fundraiser/brunch at Cameron Lockley’s Gusto Italian Kitchen + Wine Bar, especially time hanging with Andy, Brian, Cameron, Stephen Walls, Denny Biggs, Zella, Brian Ballard, David Smith, Aruni Gunasegaram, Rachel Muir and other friends.

Congressman Joaquin Castro

(Community Matters) We hosted an intimate fundraiser dinner for Joaquin Castro last night – bonus that his wife Anna joined us. Co-hosts were Aimee & Ed Cunningham and Diana & Juan Alcala. Iliana de la Vega of El Naranjo prepared an exquisite meal.

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other guests included Yvonne Guiterrez, Steve Adler, Scott & Meryl Mason, JIm & Cheryl George, Alejandro & Ana Ruelas, Robert Howard, Adrienne Donato and Matt Jones.




(Community Matters) This weekend to see the Cramers and this week for the Greater Austin Chamber’s DC Advocacy Visit.



Gabel, Sonya, Reid, Brent, ST, Dio


including a White House West Wing tour with Drew Scheberle, Jacki Arnold, Steve Adler, Greg Hartman & Gene Austin.

Andrew Roman

(Community Matters) Congrats to Andrew Roman who graduated from high school on Friday with highest honors and heaps of recognitions for acting, academics and service. Below with his brothers, sisters and nephew. Andrew is the youngest brother of our godson, Will Roman – all this tribe dear to us.

10390977_10203889724994663_8892575869038175979_nWill, Michelle, Roman, Andrew, Angela & Josh

Captain Brett & Maria Lester

(Community Matters) Brett was an undergraduate who I met in 2004 while teaching at UT’s McCombs School of Business. At his request I became the faculty advisor for his Alpha Kappa Psi Business Fraternity. We’ve been close ever since – during which time he graduated from UT, enlisted in the US Marines, deployed to Japan, returned, met Maria Redford in Dallas, and then answered a special call for reenlistment in a stealth, one year deployment. Maria, with a masters in religious studies, is chaplain at Dallas’ Ursuline Academy. Faith (specifically Roman Catholicism) is very important to both friends. Not sure I’ve ever attended a wedding officiated by five priests (each important in their livers) and attended by at least several others. What a wonderful launch for the life of two wonderful young friends.

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Labor Market Polarization

(Community Matters) The increasing polarization of jobs being created in the market – Dallas Federal Reserve newsletter – is due to automation of routine jobs and to a lesser extent offshoring, resulting in the loss of middle-skills jobs. Higher education and a willingness to upgrade skills accounts for better performance of women in the jobs market over last 25 years. Men who lose these middle-skills jobs are remanded to lower-skills, lower paying jobs. 

The number of jobs requiring medium levels of skills has shrunk while the number at both ends of the distribution – those requiring high and low skills level – has expanded. . . . polarization began about 25 years ago, in the early 1990s and intensified in the last decade. . . . Middle skills jobs were not recovered [after the recessions of this period, especially the recession of 2008-09].

Routine jobs always rebounded during the economic expansions that followed the recessions of the 1970s and 1980s. The pattern changed dramatically in the three recessions since 1990. None of the routine jobs lost in these downturns came back in the following expansions.

Middle skills jobs those in blue below (manual & cognitive routine).

dallas fed jobs skills

While women were hit much harder than men by the disappearance of middle-skills jobs, the majority of women managed to upgrade their skills and find better paying jobs.

Middle-skill, routine jobs still account for almost half of all existing jobs.