Monthly Archives: June 2014


(Community Matters) The experience we need going forward is experience different from what we’ve had in the past. Traffic, affordability, permitting . . . the problems have gotten worse over the last eight years. Time for a new way forward.


June 23

tom henderson bettie naylor(Community Matters) It’s Melissa, Drew’s, Michael’s & Milinda’s tradition to celebrate Tom Henderson’s birthday (June 23) with dinner. Tom was Melissa’s daddy; Michael’s husband. I always remember (& Bettie Naylor’s b/d too), though haven’t always been able to join for dinner. Fun to do so last night, along with Steven, Will Roman and Matt Wolski (taking this pic). Tom would have been 65 yesterday – he died Dec 1999.


(first photo: Tom, Bettie & I can’t recall name of the other gentleman @ a party Ted Smith hosted in my honor (City of Austin Eugene Sepulveda Day) in the early 90s. I think the other gentleman was named Marvin – he was GWB’s godfather, forsaken for being gay, which broke his heart.)


My Brother’s Keeper

(Community Matters) On Friday, Secretary Duncan also met with young men of color as part of President Obama’s initiative, My Brother’s Keeper, which focuses on addressing persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential.

The roundtable was hosted by ACC’s Dr. Rhodes. Comments included:

·        Parents working for $7.25 an hour work so much that they are exhausted when they get home are not able to help their children.

·        Teachers shouldn’t be blamed when they have students who are disruptive and the teacher has to “over talk” them.

·        They talked about their experiences serving the community. One explained how that helped him get a job that he loves. Another said it changed the community’s perception of teenage boys of color.

·        Standardized tests discourage kids who test poorly but can do the work. One student said schools expel kids for minor misbehavior if they are weak academically so that they won’t count toward the school’s dropout rate. He said suspending a student for misbehavior is like giving a kid a vacation for doing the wrong thing, and sending them home isn’t giving them an education.

·        Young people from low income communities face opportunity gaps. One student said he has no network because his neighbors work for McDonalds and Burger King and could connect him with a job there, but not internships or career-oriented entry level jobs.

Hat Tip: Edna Butts

Happy Birthday, Capital Factory

(Community Matters) Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday Capital Factory, happy birthday to you – and many more.


with Joshua Baer, our founder & spiritual leader

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.