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The relationship is close enough, say sources, that Jacobs was a figure in Mincberg's recent divorce from David Mincberg, the millionaire builder and former county Democratic party chairman.
Cathy is a former HISD board president who, like past trustee and then-superintendent Paige, utilized a revolving door to move from an unpaid board position to her $150,000-a-year district job. David's business earns him a million or more a year.
Their divorce concluded in early February. According to David's pleadings, Cathy ended their 25-year union by abandoning the family and using liquid community assets to buy her own house in Bellaire in September 1999. That's the same month Jacobs signed his pact with HISD.
Her court documents say she moved out with the cooperation of her husband. In the settlement, the Mincbergs have joint custody of their daughter and two sons.
Asked whether Jacobs was a factor in the split, David Mincberg replied, "You'll have to ask her." Asked whether he had Jacobs investigated during the divorce, Mincberg issued a no-comment.
For a company with such a big contract, Jacobs and Infinet have left hardly a trace in media news and business databases. In 1993 Jacobs worked as a support services manager for the Mesa Unified School District in Tempe. When he moved on to California in 1995, he sold his residence in Tempe to a Linda Rae Jacobs, apparently a former wife.
Mesa Assistant Superintendent Chuck Essigs hired Jacobs to manage the implementation of new technologies. He recalls that Jacobs had a bachelor's degree and worked for an Internet mail-order company at the time. What impressed him most was Jacobs's role in creating a computerized storage warehouse for his private employer.
Once on board at Mesa, Jacobs worked with accounting software produced by Macro, the same company that later sent him to HISD. He also laid the groundwork for a project to provide each Mesa district classroom with an integrated voice, video and data system.
Essigs praises the work of Jacobs, citing his drive, focus and intelligence.
"He read all the journals and was always up to date on the latest things happening in technology," remembers Essigs. "He learned a lot of that himself. I don't think it was from his formal education. It was just from his experience."
Essigs says that before Jacobs's main project had been completed, he was hired away by Macro, the California software company whose wares he had installed at Mesa. The departure created no rancor.
"We're a public school district," Essigs says, "and there was no way we could compete with the salary they were going to pay him."
Four years later Jacobs found one that could -- in a little ol' place called Houston, Texas.