May 21, 2014

Being Julian Castro pays okay, not great

Byron York in the Washington Examiner goes deeper into Julian Castro story.

The problem with Castro as a subject to write about is that he's kind of a dull Obama-like figure who has been polished to be a figurehead. In the hands of a master of malice like Zev Chafets, Castro is a pretty funny story, but you pretty much have to be an iSteve reader to get the joke.
If chosen for HUD, Julian Castro's work, big payday could face scrutiny 
BY BYRON YORK | MAY 18, 2014 | 12:00 AM  
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro is widely referred to as a "rising star" in Democratic politics. There's even talk the Mexican-American Castro could earn the vice-presidential spot on the 2016 Democratic ticket in an effort to further strengthen the party's bonds with Hispanic voters. And now, it appears Castro's national profile is about to rise with word that President Obama plans to nominate him to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. 
If Castro is tapped for the job, his Senate confirmation hearings will likely shine a spotlight both on his role in San Antonio's government and his way of making a living. 
San Antonio, the second-largest city in Texas and seventh-largest in the nation, has a council-manager-weak mayor form of government. The manager runs the city.  
The office of mayor carries with it no executive authority. ... "The mayor's job pays $20 a meeting plus a one-time $2,000 fee, so I basically make $4,000 a year," Castro told San Antonio television station KENS last year. 
So how does Castro, 39 years old, with a wife and a child, make a living? First, his wife, Erica, an elementary school teacher, makes about $55,000 a year. But lately, it appears Castro's real livelihood comes from being Julian Castro -- making speeches, surfing on his fame after a well-received keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, and writing a book about himself. 
San Antonio Express-News columnist Brian Chasnoff recently reported that Castro made more than $200,000 in 2013. The bulk of that, Chasnoff noted, was a $127,500 advance for the memoir that Castro is writing.

In contrast, after Obama gave the same speech at the Democratic convention eight years before, he received a $1.9 million advance for what became The Audacity of Hope. In general, blacks are just a lot more interesting to the white reading public than Mexicans are.
More came from the speaking fees that were a product of Castro's post-convention visibility: $12,750 for one speech, $16,250 for another, $8,500 for another, and so on.

These are not particularly large amounts of money -- Castromania appears to be a long ways from liftoff. (It also doesn't help that Castro doesn't speak much Spanish, so that market is out.)
That's how Castro supports himself and his family now. But the seed money for Castro's time in the mayor's office -- he was first elected in 2009 -- was a controversial seven-figure "referral fee" that Castro, a Harvard-educated lawyer, received from a well-connected trial lawyer and Democratic donor in a personal injury lawsuit in which Castro may or may not have played a major role. 
The case stemmed from a 2006 drunk driving accident in which three people were killed. ... One of the victims, a man who lost his mother, wife, and son in the crash, knew Castro and chose Castro's small firm to represent him in a suit against the oilfield services company. Castro then referred the case to a much larger firm, headed by Mikal Watts, a prominent personal injury lawyer and Democratic contributor. Watts won the case, and a big award, and Castro was paid a seven-figure "referral fee" for bringing the suit to Watts' firm. ... 

Julian's identical twin Joaquin shared in the tip.

Watts is a Texas-sized contingency fee lawyer. A cornerback named Mikal Watts would be black, but a major Democratic donor named Mikal Watts is white.

So, basically, the Castro Twins are the creation of the Bob Odenkirk-like Mikal Watts.
Castro's lawsuit payday has attracted some scrutiny. In 2009, the Express-News ran a piece (not available on the Web) headlined, "Whispers about Castro's referral of case grow louder." But Castro has remained mostly silent about the financial details of the matter. Still, the bottom line is that it appears the referral fee and Castro's connection to Watts are major parts of the foundation of Castro's political career so far. If Castro is nominated to be HUD secretary, the senators charged with his confirmation will undoubtedly want to know more about them.

I'm sure York is better plugged in to what Republican Senators are planning than I am. Generally speaking, though, whatever questions I think would be interesting to ask never get asked. 

For example, I thought it was fascinating that Obama nominated Israeli government official Stanley Fischer to be the deputy chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. Fischer had been seen as loyal enough to Israel to run Israel's monetary policy in 2005 by prime minister Ariel Sharon and finance minister Bibi Netanyahu (Fischer became a citizen of Israel in 2005), so I thought maybe Fischer's switching teams would be of some interest to United States senators, but I can't find any online reference to whether that subject ever came up during Fischer's March 13 hearing in front of the Senate Banking Committee. 

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Harrah's Cherokee Casino) voted to confirm him, but did make a good point in Politico:
The Citigroup Clique 
Why is Obama appointing so many former employees of one Wall St. bank? 
By SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN April 29, 2014 
Today, I cast my vote on the Senate Banking Committee for Stanley Fischer to serve in the No. 2 position at the U.S. Federal Reserve. I asked Fischer tough questions – in person, at his nomination hearing, and in writing – and I have been impressed with the depth of his knowledge and experience. 
But I cast my vote reluctantly because of my growing frustration over the concentration of people with ties to the megabank Citigroup in senior government positions. 
In recent years, Wall Street institutions have exerted extraordinary influence in Washington’s corridors of power, but Citi has risen above the others in exercising a tight grip over the Democratic Party’s economic policymaking apparatus. Fischer, after all, is just the latest Citi alumnus to be tapped for a high-level government position. Starting with Robert Rubin – a former Citi CEO – three of the last four Treasury secretaries under Democratic presidents have had Citigroup affiliations before or after their Treasury service. (The fourth [Timothy Geithner] was offered, but declined, Citigroup’s CEO position.) Directors of the National Economic Council and Office of Management and Budget, as well as our current U.S. trade representative, also have had strong ties to Citigroup.

So, while I would like to ask Castro some embarrassing questions, my guess is that he will sail through untouched because he's exactly the type of smooth nonentity whom the Important People are looking for to surf the Hispanic Tidal Wave for them.
    

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

The problem with Castro as a subject to write about is that he's kind of a dull Obama-like figure who has been polished to be a figurehead.

The real problem is you can't polish a turd.

Anonymous said...

For comparison, Ben Bernake is charging $200,000 (domestic) to $400,000 (overseas) per speech.

Anonymous said...

It's clear that quite a few of our "leaders" are nothing more than puppets for entrenched interests and wealthy political financiers.

Deep state at work.

Anonymous said...

Somehow, I don't think that Castro will enjoy Obama's success. He just doesn't connect with SWPLs in the same manner.

Anonymous said...

The Libs keep the subject on San Antonio. "It's a huge city!" they say.

Anonymous said...

For comparison, Ben Bernake is charging $200,000 (domestic) to $400,000 (overseas) per speech.

Which is about $30-60 pre-Bernanke dollars.

Anonymous said...

I live in SA, and it is a sight to behold how in the tank the Express News is for him. Beyond parody - just this past week, the above the fold big page 1 story was the praise of local low income housing racket rabble-rousers for Castro's lobbying for federal money. It read like a press release.

And Scully, the city manager, has dictatorial powers. In the 70s and 80s, the business establishment made sure of that.

Finally, Steve has mentioned it before, but not in this post: Castro's Jewish right hand man has been teaching him Spanish.

Anonymous Rice Alum #4 said...

San Antonio is the best case scenario for our diverse future: a large but underwhelming Mexican population; the only blacks are above their racial average for intelligence and conscientiousness; and the whites are looking to live out their golden years in peace and quiet.

Of course, the only blacks are in the military or play for the Spurs, so it isn't scalable.

Jefferson said...

"Somehow, I don't think that Castro will enjoy Obama's success. He just doesn't connect with SWPLs in the same manner."

Julian Castro is a Mestizo. How many Mestizos have you met that are culturally SWPL ?

Mestizos in the U.S have their own culture that is the complete opposite of SWPL. Mestizos got the Cholo/Chola/Vato lowrider culture.

George Lopez for example in his stand up comedy acts is always talking about how SWPL culture is extremely alien to him.

George Lopez once said he does not understand why White people like Starbucks, John Mayer, and Moby.


Anonymous said...

Castro's Jewish right hand man has been teaching him Spanish.

LOL!

The next thing I'll hear is Chuck Schumer has a Puerto Rican teaching him Yiddish!

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth Warren was concerned. But not enough to vote against confirming him. Wat to exercise that advise and consent power Liz.

Nostalgick Futurist said...

So... if there is a city manager who actually takes care of stuff, why do you need a mayor? And conversely, why do people vote for mayor if they know that he's not going to have any real power? Do they know that? Shouldn't they vote for city manager instead?

I understand that in modern democracy you are just voting for a figurehead most of the time, but it wasn't always so blatant, there was at least an illusion of control.

There is a novel by Kurt Vonnegut in which a president's limo is fitted with a fake steering wheel in the back seat, "to remind him that all he could do was to pretend to be driving"

Then again, I suppose it is the same thing as people voting for Proposition 8 and then having it overturned by judges, "in the name of the people".

Orwell was right, indeed. The purpose of power is power.

Rob said...

Whether a politician gets $1 000 or $100 000 for a speech, the speech has no intrinsic worth. The going rate for it merely reflects the extent to which the powers that be are willing to invest in him, or - if he's retired - how much he was worth to them while in office.

Anonymous said...

Almost every town and small city has a manager rather than a mayor. The council-manager system is a simple acceptance of the fact that you can't give actual power to voters--a town of 10,000 could easily vote in a mayor who is a cartoon character, or insane, or flatly incompetent (like Castro) or un-PC, etc. A group of 10,000 people can be persuaded through media outside of television.

But that's usually not a problem in large cities. The fact that San Antonio can't trust itself to have a real mayor is a little scary.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, most if the high pay for speeches to out-of-power people is just payback for favors done while in office. The message is really addressed to current officeholders: give us a few billion now and we will take care of you 5 years from now.

Anonymous said...

The GOP needs to have learned a lesson from letting the rising star Obama continue to rise instead of stopping his rise with cries of incompetence long before he ran against Hillary.

In today's world, Henry Cisneros' sexual indiscretions wouldn't have stopped him so, GOP....stop these airheads before they gather steam.

Anonymous said...

In most municipalities the city manager is the highest paid. They run multi-million budgets, get the snow plowed, the garbage collected, the businesses inspected. Do you really want some elected mayor to handle all that?

Anonymous said...

Why isn't Joaquin the big star? He's at least been a legislator for over a decade. Julian is a glorified mascot, and now he's supposed to be a candidate for a cabinet position? Ridiculous.

I don't know a whole lot about Julian yet, but I suspect the Dems see him as a potential VP candidate on down the line. The presidency is most likely not in his future; he strikes me as an empty suit. But having his name on the ticket would appeal to the mestizo masses, obviously.

ben tillman said...

"Castro's Jewish right hand man has been teaching him Spanish."

LOL!

The next thing I'll hear is Chuck Schumer has a Puerto Rican teaching him Yiddish!


There are lots of Mexican Jews in Texas. And the Puerto Ricans in Texas? Mostly Jewish. That's not the case in New York.

David said...

Someone without real marketable skills or much money is the perfect catspaw for the powers-that-be who are grooming him.

Now taking bets... How many years until we see the modern equivalent of Caligula's horse?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous above is right re Warren: "But I cast my vote reluctantly..." Apparently, Warren is smarter than the Native American kerfuffle made her look. She votes party line, but has a fall-back position of "reluctance" in case there is a scandal at Reserve, or the polling numbers change.

leftist conservative said...

Strange.

Back when I was a texas lawyer (which was just a few years ago), the rule, as I recall, was that referral fees are forbidden for texas lawyers, but that if a case is referred from one lawyer to another, the referring lawyer must do some work on the case in order to get paid on it. Sort of a loophole. The law firm getting the referral could assign the referring lawyer to do X amount of hours work on the case and then pay the referring lawyer that way.

But there are no referral fees for lawyers in texas. At least that was the case a few years ago, at least to my recollection.

Sid Hudgens said...

Eh, we ran a piece last year, "Swarthy Latin Charmers of the Beltway." His name got mentioned.

Anonymous said...

In 2009, the Express-News ran a piece (not available on the Web) headlined, "Whispers about Castro's referral of case grow louder."

Archive.org begs to differ.

It sounds like Castro and Watts were careful to maintain the necessary pretenses for client referrals and that the client is loyal and was coached accordingly.

Anonymous said...

In most municipalities the city manager is the highest paid. They run multi-million budgets, get the snow plowed, the garbage collected, the businesses inspected. Do you really want some elected mayor to handle all that?

Yeah, you'll end up like Toronto with a crackhead alcoholic getting all that work done. God forbid, that a city like Houston could get as run-down as Toronto.

Anonymous said...

I went to law school with a guy similar to Castro -- had a name like "Juan Sanchez" but was whiter than pure driven snow and couldn't speak a lick of Spanish …neither of us were anywhere close to the top of our class but I remember he had his pick of the litter when searching for jobs while I just felt incredibly lucky to land one gig at a top NYC corporate law firm …

DCThrowback said...

@anon 7:40 - Warren took Larry Summers' advice to heart.

"After dinner, “Larry leaned back in his chair and offered me some advice,” Ms. Warren writes. “I had a choice. I could be an insider or I could be an outsider. Outsiders can say whatever they want. But people on the inside don’t listen to them. Insiders, however, get lots of access and a chance to push their ideas. People — powerful people — listen to what they have to say. But insiders also understand one unbreakable rule: They don’t criticize other insiders."

Big Bill said...

What is the sacred oath of citizenship that Jews take when they, like Fischer, make Aliyah?

Anything about duty and loyalty to their nation and government? To their people?

Anything about abjuring all other loyalties?

Anything about supporting and defending their people from all adversaries?

Anonymous said...

OT: I thought Sailer would be interested in the Emanuel brothers' adopted gentile sister:

http://www.nytimes.com/1997/06/15/magazine/the-brothers-emanuel.html?src=pm&pagewanted=1

"Today, the brothers argue just as passionately about the role that environment and genetics played in the life of their sister, who in recent years has been on and off the welfare rolls that Rahm worked so hard to cut. Benjamin Emanuel met his daughter when he gave her a well-baby checkup and discovered that she had suffered a brain hemorrhage at delivery. The baby's future was unclear; Shoshana's birth mother, a young woman of Polish Catholic background, asked Dr. Emanuel if he knew someone who wanted her child. ''But I couldn't find placement,'' Benjamin Emanuel says. After a week of debate between both parents and sons - Marsha Emanuel had always wanted a girl - the Emanuels themselves took Shoshana in. ''What are you going to do?'' Benjamin Emanuel says philosophically

Intellectually, Shoshana developed normally - like her brothers, she graduated from New Trier, one of the most competitive high schools in the country - but she needed four operations and years of physical therapy to give her 85 percent use of her left side. She had a difficult adolescence, and today Marsha Emanuel, at the age of 63, is raising Shoshana's two illegitimate children. (None of the Emanuels will talk about Shoshana in detail, and she declined to be interviewed for this article.)

ben tillman said...

But there are no referral fees for lawyers in texas. At least that was the case a few years ago, at least to my recollection.

It's a bit more complicates than that. Disciplinary Rule 1.04 allows fee-splitting if the client consents in advance in writing and (a) the split is proportional to the services provided by each attorney or (b) the fees are split by attorneys who "assume joint responsibility for the representation".

ben tillman said...

I went to law school with a guy similar to Castro -- had a name like "Juan Sanchez" but was whiter than pure driven snow and couldn't speak a lick of Spanish

There was a guy like that in my class at Brown. I didn't know him there, but I met his sister 15 years later. She wasn't just white-skinned; she had the whitest skin I've ever seen. It was alabaster. She was a true blue-blood.

Her family has been thriving on the Gulf Coast for 300 years, yet I'm sure her brother was admitted to college because of his Spanish last name.

Anonymous said...

But there are no referral fees for lawyers in texas. At least that was the case a few years ago, at least to my recollection

In California, referral fees are common and allowed. So there would be no scandal for a lawyer accepting a referral fee in CA.

I'm not sure there is much of a scandal in Texas either. The TX disciplinary rule of professional conduct 1.04(f) governs referral fees, and 1.04(f)(1)(ii) allows it if the fee splitting is "made between lawyers who assume joint responsibility for the representation" I'm not a Texas lawyer, but it seems that all Castro had to do was claim joint responsibility with the other attorney, even if he didn't really do anything.

There may be reasons to dislike Castro, but getting a referral fee for referring a case to a competent attorney isn't one of them.

Anonymous said...

@Nostalgick: if there is a city manager who actually takes care of stuff, why do you need a mayor?

The mayor is also a member of the City Council and chairs Council meetings. City Council is responsible for policy-setting. City Manager is responsible for day-to-day administration, including developing the annual budget.

E. Rekshun said...

Isn't Bill Clinton the King when it comes to collecting cash for speeches. I've read that he collects something like tens of millions each year giving speeches.

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

This line from Castro's entry at Wiki made me laugh:

Castro was a brilliant student in high school and played football, basketball and tennis; he also collected trading cards.

He looks Chinese to me.

Jefferson said...

"He looks Chinese to me."

I know Julian Castro has Mongoloid ancestry from his Aztec and or Mayan ancestors. But he doesn't look Chinese to me. But I do think he can pass for Filipino.

jody said...

doesn't this mean shaun donovan is taking a new job?

he is the person who most directly oversaw the stimulus. i guess those jobs weren't so shovel ready after all. but his promotion was.

so who is left:

secretary slam dunkin'. looks like he wants to go the full 8 years. every time US students are tested internationally, they do worse. a failure. but hey, he got to play in the NBA celebrity all-star game, so i guess that makes him a success?

sebelius, who was supposed to be on her way out, but so far isn't. a total failure.

shinseki, who DOES appear to be on his way out, a failure not just as a politician but a failure of a soldier, and a guy i have bashed for over 12 years on this blog.

tom vilsack. probably going for the full 8 years. he did a reasonable job in a tough time. the price of most food is at an all-time high, but there is no inflation, they say.

Anonymous said...

Both Clinton and Gore are members of the hundred-millionaire club.

Jack Mehoffer said...

In the current Charlotte Allen piece on Harvard's Satanic event the sole crank protester she found outside the church gave his name as "Bob Odenkirk"--probably should've come up with something more under-the-rader like Louis Cyphere or Daimon Hellstrom.

Anonymous said...

So being Julian Castro pays about the same as being (Congressman) Joaquin Castro?

E. Rekshun said...

Both Clinton and Gore are members of the hundred-millionaire club.

Soon to be joined by hillary clinton and, barack & michele obama.

Aside from Gore, each has something funny about their law license.

Anonymous said...

>> $1 000 or $100 000 for a speech, the speech has no intrinsic worth


your club pays Ben Bernanke a $quarter-mil to give a speech, he doesn't just give a speech. He sticks around and shmoozes. Maybe a dozen different people get some serious face-to-face time with him. Ben refers those guys to the correct CitiGroup Senior Vice President to get something done. Say you build railroad cars. This Senior Vice President can make a shidduch between you and Mr Moo Goo Gai Pan, the Chinese guy who's putting together the next $3 billion iron-ore mine deal in the Australian outback. Next thing you know, you're signing a contract to deliver 500 cargo-railcars to Adelaide over the next five years. All of a sudden - that $50,000/year membership in the club feels like a bargain.

Anonymous said...

>> What is the sacred oath of citizenship that Jews take when they, like Fischer, make Aliyah?

Anything about duty and loyalty to their nation and government? To their people?

Anything about abjuring all other loyalties?

Anything about supporting and defending their people from all adversaries?





Now suppose that your mom was a full-blooded Cree Indian who was born and raised on the Reservation, but left it and pursued better opportunities in Chicago, where you were born and raised. And now, some decades later, you decide (for whatever combinations of reasons) to leave Chicago and take advantage of your right to move onto the Reservation. Will you be asked to "swear an oath of loyalty"? Will anyone demand that you abjure your prior oath of loyalty to the USA which you took when you took advantage of the ROTC funds?

We Hebrews are a tribe, and on average, our tribal set-up is rather... average, compared to other modern tribes.

Now continuing the analogy a bit further, suppose that you entered the Cree Reservation Police... at that point you WOULD take an Oath to become a "sworn officer".... and if Stan had ever entered the IDF (he got here when he was already old), he would have been administered an oath of loyalty to the State. The ==State== of Israel is (in our national thinking) a continuation of the prior Davidic kingdoms, and just as a Brit Army enlistee swears loyalty to the Monarch, but not to the Church of England of which she is the titular head - the state of Israel is a secular thing. Yes, Passover is a national holiday here, but that doesn't prove anything more than does State of Hawaii civil servants having Christmas Day off.

The much-beloved dual-loyalty accusation is, at its core, extremely weak. Did you similarly accuse the actress who became Princess of Monaco? Do you have angst about the Amish demands to be exempt from Social Security taxation?

"white Nationalists" who fund/establish "Pioneering Little Europes" may wake up some morning to find a future B.Obama accusing them of "dual loyalty". Now how does that shoe feel when it's put onto the other foot?

Anonymous said...

>> the price of most food is at an all-time high, but there is no inflation, they say.


Secy's of Agriculture don't get paid to help the Section Eight EBT mom's get more at the supermarket; they get paid to deliver electoral precincts in farm states.

City people like Jody demand that the supermarkets be full... then they ALSO complain whenever it rains....

Forbes said...

Rubin was NEVER CEO of Citi, his title was chairman of the executive committee. But goodness, why would a US Senator be bothered with such trivialities.