Castro's new job has political drawbacks

Housing and Urban Development Secretary nominee, San Antonio, Texas Mayor Julian Castro testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 17, 2014. The Senate has easily confirmed Castro to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Wednesday's 71- 26 vote making Castro one of the highest-ranking Hispanics in government. 

Housing and Urban Development Secretary nominee, San Antonio, Texas Mayor Julian Castro testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 17, 2014. The Senate has easily confirmed Castro to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Wednesday's 71- 26 vote making Castro one of the highest-ranking Hispanics in government.   

Last Wednesday, Julian Castro —the Mayor of San Antonio— was overwhelmingly confirmed by the US Senate as the next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. The position will give the 39 year-old Democrat some serious Washington clout as he continues climbing up the rungs of the political ladder. Castro has openly expressed interest in higher office, and many are speculating that he could be Hillary Clinton's running mate in 2016 if the former First Lady and Secretary and State indeed decides to run for President.

What everyone else apparently has neglected to mention is that, by accepting this position to serve in President Barack Obama's cabinet for the remaining two and a half years of his term, Castro has totally and unequivocally disenfranchised himself from holding Statewide political office in this State.

Republicans love to link Democrats to the unpopular President, even if no such connection exists. Are you the five-term incumbent County Commissioner in Madisonville? Doesn't matter, your Republican opponent will plaster the airwaves and billboards with slogans blasting you as "Obama's best friend," even if you've never met —or voted for— the man. When it comes to someone like Castro, who will legitimately be indelibly linked, Republicans are figuratively frothing at the mouth thinking of the possibilities.

Furthermore, even when the day comes that Texas turns blue, Obama will not likely be a popular figure. Even in cycles where Democrats prevail Statewide, I cannot imagine a former Cabinet secretary of the Obama administration doing very well. This precludes Castro from running for Governor in 2018, which I had formerly assumed his plan had been all along.

I like Castro, and I would love to vote for him if he were to run for some high office. But unless Clinton has promised him the Vice-Presidency, I cannot imagine my vote going to a successful candidate in the near future.

Dr. Ernest Moniz, secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, gave a talk in the Avaya Auditorium on Thursday morning. 

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said in a speech Thursday at the University that he attributes progress in the field of renewable energy to the efforts of
immigrant citizens.

“The president has been very clear that immigration will be a major focus this year,” Moniz said. “The Department of Energy can’t avoid that major pushes in the investment of clean energy have come from people who came to this country, were educated in this country and have now contributed to our economy.”

Moniz, who was a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before his appointment as secretary of energy, said the development of more efficient energy sources is an important nationwide issue.

“There is no ambiguity about the need to lower greenhouse gas emissions,” Moniz said.  

Moniz, who spoke with engineering students about their ideas on renewable energy, said the solution to clean energy problems will require creating opportunities for various ways to fix the issues.

“There is no single low-carbon solution that will be the magic answer everywhere,” Moniz said. “What we need to do is enable all of the fuels, all of the technologies, to have a marketplace position in a future low-carbon economy.”

University Provost Gregory Fenves said he believes the goals of the University were in sync with those of Moniz’s department.

“When we look at the mission of the Department of Energy and compare that to what we do at the University of Texas, there is tremendous alignment in our education mission, in our research mission, and also in how we get our innovations out to serve the world through entrepreneurship and communication,” Fenves said. 

Engineering professor Michael Webber, who introduced Moniz, said he has been impressed with the secretary’s performance since his appointment in May.

“He works hard, he hustles for the American people and he’s an advocate for energy solutions that stand the test of time,” Webber said. 

Moniz said his department hopes for a more diverse workforce in future years.

“When we look at what is going to be the resource needed to get the kind of energy system we want mid-century, we’re going to need a really good workforce,” Moniz said. “We just don’t have an energy workforce that reflects our demographics and our future demographics.”

It’s a well-established fact that women only earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men in equal positions. Such figures are cited often in this day and age, and the crusade to break through the glass ceiling has been drilled into girls earlier and harder than in past generations. There is endless literature, for example, urging women to speak up, initiate salary negotiation and take more credit for their accomplishments — all traditionally masculine traits that have defined leadership in the past.

Consequently, women are now navigating the business world in a climate of rapid change. As the gender stereotypes of the working world are being uprooted, the statistics are starting to suggest that women may have more leverage in the boardroom than previously thought.

Female stereotypes used to center around the idea of a soft-spoken woman in an assistive role, like a secretary or a nurse. Certainly, there is still a major difference in the gender gap today. “All you have to do is look at the leadership of Fortune 500 companies or major law firms to see that women occupy only a tiny number of the top positions,” said Lisa Moore, interim director of the women’s and gender studies department. Now the stereotypes of a powerful businesswomen are starting to evolve into the idea of an ice queen that is single and aggressive. This leaves businesswomen in what is known as the ‘Double Bind’: too feminine to lead, too manly to be liked.

The trick to conquering the double bind is balancing dominant and communal qualities, and this requires that women be aware of the traditionally “feminine” qualities that they may possess and the social contexts in which these traits are appropriate. Traditionally “masculine” traits are seen as more outward and action-based, and can be essential in building confidence, leading teams and making bigger decisions. Traditionally “feminine” traits, on the other hand, are more receptive and people-based. Being able to listen, nurture and connect with others on a deeper level is necessary to build strong relationships and garner trust and support from those above and below you on the totem pole. Both types of energy are vital to being a dynamic and successful business leader, and women finally have the social climate necessary to wield both of them.

This is especially valuable when considering how dynamic the female role is in business as compared to men’s. While women are at the forefront of overhauls of the secretary stereotype, businessmen are still expected to wear suits every day, cite the latest sports news and golf a hole-in-one while discussing stocks with ease. Though it is important for both men and women to not allow these preconceived notions to define them, the intention should never be to deliberately defy gender stereotypes for its own sake. As Kristina Elder, President of the Women in Business organization at UT, said, “As cliche as it sounds, you have to be yourself. You have to be authentic in order to build trust.”

Research has supported the idea that adopting both masculine and feminine traits can lead to success in the business world. According to a Stanford study of 132 business school graduates over eight years, businesswomen with more of a mix of traditionally feminine and traditionally masculine traits that could ‘self-monitor’ their behavior and switch between the two were “1.5 times more likely to receive promotions than masculine men, and about two times as many promotions as feminine men.” This finding suggests for the first time that women are on more than just a level playing field with men. Women are at a unique advantage.

This, of course, is only possible in an environment where we are all mindful of the disparities in gender equality and do not engage with institutions that practice it.

As Moore said, “Don’t be content with an applicant pool, entry-level cohort, or leadership group that does not include a balance of men and women and people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. Actively make diversity a priority in hiring and promotion. Recognize it as a form of excellence.”

Though still not perfect, the conditions for female success in business are primed and better than ever. The only thing stopping women now is the decision to reach out and seize it.

Huynh is a Plan II and business honors sophomore from Laredo.


A young boy made faces and held tightly to his father’s army fatigues as they smiled for a photograph with the secretary of the Army.

Maj. Steven Richter led the medical operation during last year’s Fort Hood shooting and was nearby when he heard gunfire rip through the air 50 feet away in an adjacent building.

But Friday morning, only a breeze swept through a silent memorial as friends and family gathered to honor the living for their courage and to remember their fallen comrades at the ceremony for the shooting’s one-year anniversary.

Secretary of the Army John McHugh awarded 52 medals to service members and civilians for acts of courage during the shooting. A soldier then pulled back the cloth covering a memorial stone that read, “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal; love leaves a memory no one can steal.”
Under the inscription were the names of the 12 soldiers and one civilian who were killed.

For a larger view, please view the presentation in fullscreen.


McHugh said the story of Nov. 5, 2009 will always be one of overwhelming sadness for the Army and Fort Hood, but there is another story about courage and sacrifice in the face of deadly challenges.

“For all its glory, this is really a story that is very common in this great land and in our history,” McHugh said. “Our hope is lifted and our resolve is strengthened by those who rush toward the burning building, toward the sounds of gunshot and chaos and destruction to lend their hands — and sometimes, render their lives in service to their fellow men.”

McHugh awarded Richter the Soldier’s Medal, the most prestigious honor a soldier can earn in a noncombat zone. Thirty-two were wounded that day, and several were brought into his area. Richter said there could have been a lot more deaths had the shooting taken place farther away from the Army’s medical center.

“There were so many people that did great things that day, it’s great that so many could be recognized for what [soldiers] take for granted and what we would do regardless,” Richter said.

Richter said he could not comment on the details of what he saw because of alleged shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan’s ongoing military trial. Hasan, an Army psychiatrist who was eventually subdued by military police, is currently in a pretrial hearing for 13 counts of murder and 32 counts of attempted murder. Hasan’s trial will resume on Nov. 15. Hasan could face the death penalty if convicted of the shooting.

Mental Health Noncommissioned Officer Aaron Puckett, a 31-year-old Kentucky native, said he was watching the events unfold when Spc. Logan Burnette burst through the double glass doors 50 feet away. Puckett, who was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, then charged outside and dragged Burnette inside the building before applying first aid to the wounded soldier.

“If I live to be 300 years old, I’ll never see nothing like that again,” he said. “All the newspapers back home asked me, ‘Do you feel like a hero?’ But, you know, we just reacted.”

Michael Cahill was a physician’s assistant at Fort Hood and was the only civilian killed during the attack. Cahill liked reading books for long stretches of time, visiting family in Alaska and smoking cigarettes, said Cahill’s brother-in-law, Kevin Murphy.

“Just a good man and a heck of a loss,” Murphy said.

Cahill’s wife, Jolene, said the loss of her husband left a great void at Fort Hood where the soldiers held great respect for him.

Over the course of the past year, each family of the departed has experienced many firsts without their loved ones, Maj. Gen. William Grimsley told the families gathered at the memorial.

“Maybe it was the first wedding anniversary without your spouse, the first big school event without your mom or dad,” Grimsley said. “All of us in the Fort Hood and broader Central Texas community share in your grief and use the loss of your loved ones as a source of strength to grow and to be better servants of our nation on your behalf.”

Last winter on Lake Travis, there were 30 knots of wind, so much that advertising senior and UT Sailing Club secretary Jennifer Beazley had to take the main jib, or front sail, down from her boat, forcing the railing to go almost entirely in the water. Even though she almost fell off twice, she kept her composure and sailed on in spite of her biggest scare on
the water.

“It was a situation where you don’t have much control. You’re at the mercy of the wind, really,” Beazley said. “It’s like a roller coaster, in that even though it feels dangerous, you know you’re going to be okay.”

Poor conditions are not uncommon, as the UT Sailing Club has had to deal with extreme fluctuations in weather over recent years. This ranges from the drought that hit Lake Travis and put the club on the verge of collapsing to the highs when the water accumulated to a point that homes were almost completely underwater.

“More often than not, there’s a close call when it comes to weather,” said Joseph Peacock, Sailing Club instructor and government senior. “There’s definitely been a few weekends where you get caught out in a storm you don’t expect, but that’s the fun part.”

Beazley, like a majority of the others in the UT Sailing Club joined without any previous experience on sailboats. Paul Rowley, the Student Advisor and treasurer for the club, is a firm believer that teaching someone to sail is not only easy but expected when a new member looks to join the club.

“I went out not knowing [how to sail]; a majority of us don’t know how when we join,” Rowley said. “The actual learning to sail isn’t a barrier, just the time you’re willing to commit. It’s like any sport: the more you practice, the better you become.”

The level of experience is one of the aspects that distinguishes the sailing club from the sailing team on campus. Additionally, the club doesn’t actually race, whereas the team does, and uses a different marina on a different lake and receives more funding from the school. The club is 70-percent funded by UT RecSports, but the rest comes from the members’ own pockets.

Though the sailing club is open to all students, Beazley said the sport tends to attract like-minded individuals.

“There’s two types of people, sailboat and motorboat people,” Beazley said. “Sailboat people are slower paced, whereas motorboat people prefer speed, so that’s probably why we get a lot of engineers, since they enjoy doing things themselves and creating from scratch.”

This left-brained approach to the sport is what enables many students to become successful sailors in the club and safe on the waters.

“More than anything, you have to have the ability to think on your feet,” Peacock said. “You never know when the wind will change or when something on your boat might break.”
Because of the unpredictably of the water, each member must first pass a swim test, which includes treading water for five minutes, before determining boat selection. The club has a tiered system to establish boat use for the club members. The sunfish is a single-sail wide boat and is the most stable option for beginners. It’s built in such a way that a sailor can control it if it tips over. The laser sailboat is on the Olympic class level and is a little more unstable than the sunfish. The MC Scow is a fast plane boat, and the Hobie 16, 18 and J24 make up the top class. The Hobies are both catamarans, or flat boats, and the J24 is a 24-foot keelboat, or mid-sized yacht, clad with two sails and lead on the bottom for safety. Additionally, the J24 is equipped with a sleeping quarter.

“On Saturday sails you can go on the boat a level above your class,” Rowley said. “As long as someone puts in the time and effort, there’s very few that simply don’t get it.”

All of the boats the club has are exclusively from donations, with boats from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. Since money doesn’t go toward purchasing new boats, a majority of the club’s money goes towards upkeep and overall maintenance.

“The boats are never pretty but are safe to sail,” Rowley said. “We call one the couch, because the whole thing sags when you get on.”

There is an overwhelming agreement among the members that the danger that sailing entails is one of the largest draw factors.

“When the winds are whipping and you’re flying over the water, it’s the best feeling in the world,” Rowley said. “Battling the wind is this dizzying feeling; there’s a sense of achievement when you’re out there braving it all.”

To learn more, go to