HEALTH: New medical center campaign gains leader, cash. First, the news: The Lola Wright Foundation has made the first million-dollar gift to the new Seton teaching hospital, paired with the Dell University of Texas Medical School. The $295 million hospital needs $50 million in local charity. It will break ground later this year, so finances must in order already. One of the coolest things during the Future of Care Lunch at the Four Seasons Hotel was an animated video of how the center will look, including medical school and innovation zone on either side of Waller Creek. Really exciting stuff. Rainmaker lawyer Pete Winstead — a veteran of many Austin mega-projects — was introduced as captain of fundraising for the hospital. So we can breath a sigh of relief. (We also heard for the first time from super-sharp Kate Henderson, who now heads up the core Austin medical units for Seton.)
CITY: Super-group Junior League turns 80. It’s hard to imagine a more streamlined, efficient or effective civic group than Junior League. No wonder they also pack a powerful political punch in Austin when they chose. (Why do we have the Palmer Events Center? Guess.) Rather than raise money, the women — and a few men — celebrated the group’s 80-year stint in Austin at the Driskill Hotel with lively chat, nibbles and a few speeches, plus a nifty video with some historical material that your columnist would love to get his hands on. (Among the cheering guests was former mayor Carole Keeton, a prime profile target for this column.)
SCHOOL: Presidential Citations move to grander quarters. Some ceremonies gain potency by shrinking and moving to more ancient quarters. The University of Texas Presidential Citations were split into two parts and moved to the former library in the UT Tower. Oh my. Had never seen these rooms on the second floor. Vaulting arches, stone inscriptions, restrained gilding — it reminds one of the Vatican or the Louvre. More importantly, President Bill Powers briskly honored five worthies: African diaspora scholar Edmund Gordon, former ExxonMobil exec and UT backer Charles Matthews Jr., and top attorney and former UT System Regent Shannon Ratliff, as well as Miriam and James Mulva, who have given more than $75 million to UT.(Spent a good deal of time with former Ransom Center director Tom Staley, former Ambassador Pam Willeford, and McCombs School of Business Dean Thomas Gilligan, who separately confirmed my long-held belief that UT, for different reasons, is among the best universities in the world.)
ECOLOGY: State senator threatens downstream LCRA reservoir. From Asher Price’s story in the Statesman: "A key state senator says he will work to prevent the construction of a new Colorado River reservoir unless the river authority tightens its rules for releasing water downriver from Austin-area reservoirs. State Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, whose district includes part of Travis County, said in an interview Thursday with the American-Statesman that he will oppose the construction of a reservoir by the Lower Colorado River Authority in Wharton County. The comments come a day after the LCRA board voted to ask the Texas Water Development Board for a $250 million loan to pay for the project, which the river authority’s officials say will ease the strain on lakes Travis and Buchanan, the chief reservoirs of Central Texas. Until the river authority reworks its policy on water releases, Fraser said, "I will oppose the process every step of the way." At issue is the LCRA’s water management plan, basically a driver’s manual for the operation of the river. Fraser wants the new water management plan, currently under review at the state environmental agency, to be altered to make it less likely water will be released for downstream agricultural interests. http://shar.es/TjbPz (Stated another way, we don’t have so much a water scarcity problem as an antiquated agricultural subsidy problem.)
POLITICS: A betrayal roils a top political race. From Ross Ramsey’s anayliss in the Texas Tribune. "The standard for good old-fashioned treachery in politics is pretty low — in fact, many people think politics is a synonym for treachery. Even with that, the latest move by one of the state’s biggest business groups against the sitting lieutenant governor was breathtaking. Texans for Lawsuit Reform bailed on its longtime political friend David Dewhurst after supporting him through the primary election. Dewhurst came in second in March to state Sen. Dan Patrick, finishing far enough behind to surprise nearly everyone and to inspire widespread speculation that he would drop out of the race without a runoff. He did not do that, but he may be wishing he had. TLR announced last week that it was changing sides, endorsing Patrick in the May runoff and dropping its support of Dewhurst." http://trib.it/1j9oGwj (Is it getting hot in here?)
Corrections: In a previous version of this post, the head of the Seton campaign was misidentified. The total goal for the campaign was wrong, too.