Who needs taxes?
On Tuesday, Mayor Steve Adler created some shock waves when he unveiled his plans for a "Community Cabinet" of mayoral policy advisors – half paid and half unpaid – who would be funded by money raised by a reinvigorated Mayor's Better Austin Foundation. The plan is that the Foundation would employ the advisors, who would donate their services to the city. The briefing document notes that "Community Cabinet members may be paid by the Foundation or choose to donate their time. ... Whether serving as volunteers, aides, or interns with the city government, Community Cabinet members must agree, and will be held to, the highest standards aligned to the city's conflict of interest and recusal policies. Each will file a financial disclosure statement required of city management staff." Still, eyebrows and a few hackles have been raised (see "Council: Only the Strong Survive," p.16; "Public Notice," p.12); expect some lively discussion and a possible delay when this comes up (as Item 86 of 86) at today's Council meeting.
Mayor's "Community Cabinet" of policy advisors
Brandi Clark Burton: Environmental activist; founder of Austin EcoNetwork.
Joene Grissom: Owns PR/advertising firm; former educational consultant.
Kazique Prince: Consultant on "diversity and inclusion" services; recent AISD Board candidate.
Lesley Varghese: Attorney in Richard Jung, Ramey Ko firm; formerly with Asian American Resource Center.
Ashton Cumberbatch Jr.: Runs foundations for Seton Healthcare; former Austin Police Monitor.
Sherri Greenberg: Former House Rep.; LBJ School government prof; Central Health board member.
Frank Rodriguez: Head of Latino HealthCare Forum; founding board member of Central Health.
Kirk Rudy: Head of Endeavor Real Estate Group (Southpark Meadows and Domain).
Mayor's Better Austin Foundation
Kerry Tate: The only holdover from Lee Leffingwell's tenure; founder of TateAustin Communications; now a homebuilder.
Darlene Byrne: District Court Judge in Travis Co.; former litigation attorney.
Cookie Ruiz: Ballet Austin ED; ImagineAustin CAC; many nonprofit board positions.
Laura Hernandez: Adler's deputy campaign manager; former head of Travis Co. Democratic Party; former legislative aide.
Mark Yznaga: Political consultant; husband of Council Member Ann Kitchen; co-founded SOS; chaired Liveable City, etc.
Diane Land: Wife of Mayor Steve Adler; heads property management company; CPA; real estate broker.
Apologies to some of these very accomplished individuals – but that's all the biography that fits onto two lines apiece. See the full biographies at www.austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/files/mayor/community_cabinet_bios.pdf, and www.austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/files/mayor/MBAF_trustees_and_staff.pdf.