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Center for Child Protection Party, Roadmap to Equality with Annise Parker, Caritas 50th Anniversary and more

Michael Barnes

LAW: “I went berserk.” Twenty-five years ago, relaxing at her lake house, Maxine Roberts became furious when she learned that another Austin child had been brutalized. Could the latest crime have been prevented? She called everyone she knew. What could be done? Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle suggested looking at a public/private group in Hunstville, Ala. that reduced the trauma of child victims during the investigation and prosecution of their cases. With little cash in hand, Roberts, along with Sandra Martin, was among the founders of what became the Center for Child Protection, which hosted a 25th anniversary reception at the Austonian. Judges, advocates and civic leaders attended. “We now understand how horrible this is,” Roberts says. “I can’t believe it’s still happening to children. No baby should wake up in the morning to a nightmare in the house.”

CHARITY: Marcus Luttrell paced the stage like a caged tiger. The former Navy Seal whose battle in Afghanistan was featured in the book and movie, “Lone Survivor,” spoke about childhood in East Texas with a family that had always served in the military, about the formation of habits of duty and honor, and, in detail, about the protracted Operation Redwing in 2005. Luttrell is enormously dynamic — almost too much so for an after-dinner speaker. There was a good point: Caritas toasted its 50th anniversary with a focus on helping veterans among its food service, refugee and social service programs. Prior to Luttrell’s speech, a Central Texas veteran spoke effectively about his own struggle to stay off the streets. Powerful stuff.

POLITICS: “We had to write one from scratch.” Astonishingly, Houston didn’t have an anti-discrimination ordinance at all. Much less one that protected the LGBT community in a city of 2.2 million people. Houston Mayor Annise Parker carefully explained the step-by-step campaign for the ordinance — a repeal petition is being argued over in the courts — and also for city staff security at an Equality Texas gathering in the high-rise home of Dr. Nona Niland. A co-host for the event was the Gill Foundation, founded by Denver software executive Tim Gill, which advocates for LGBT equality. By the way, Parker recently married her partner of 23 years, Kathy Hubbard, in California.

BUSINESS: Competition works. Anticipating the 2015 opening of the giant J.W. Marriott at Congress Avenue and East Second Street, four downtown hotels Radisson Austin, Hyatt Regency Austin, Omni Austin, Hilton Austin — recently unveiled million worth of dollars of improvements. Others are on the way. These have included upgraded food service, renovated rooms and shared spaces, and at least one completely new banquet room. Hilton Austin, which pretty much had the big convention business to itself for 10 years, threw a gala to show off its enhancements. If the food, decor and courtesy that night can be maintained, the Hilton’s future will be bright.

HISTORY: More than 100 Austin history stories at this digital page. It started with a street sign. It ended with a stroll around the grounds of an abandoned Civil War fort in South Austin. You didn’t know Austin — far from any battlefield — played a part in Confederate defenses? In fact, slave labor built three forts around Austin to ward off possible invasions from the south, north and east. Two decades ago, I noticed a street sign off South First Street, just north of the former discount store that now serves as a (sigh) Chuck E. Cheese outlet. It pointed to the narrow Fort Magruder Lane. Nearby is military-sounding Post Road Drive.Now I’m no Civil War buff, but why hadn’t I heard of Fort Magruder while reporting on the people, places and scenes of our fair city? Questions to longtime residents drew blanks. Published references were few and far between.”