HISD's Former Board President Moves On In Portland

Cathy Mincberg, the longtime political semi-honcho who once was HISD's board president and left the district as its chief business officer, is now leaving her latest gig.

She had been chief operations officer of the Portland school system, but now she is becoming the V-P and chief academic officer for, ummm, an online-learning company. Or, as the Portland press release puts it, "one of the oldest online education companies in the nation."

A real leader in the long and glorious tradition of online education, which dates back...decades, we guess.

Mincberg's stay in Portland was as bumpy as it was here, where she was a favorite of some of the insidery movers-and-shakers but pissed off many others in the community.

As the alt-weekly Willamette Week put it a couple of years ago, "If former Portland Public Schools Superintendent Vicki Phillips was the district's President Bush, chief operating officer Cathy Mincberg was her Karl Rove, the brainy insider to whom Phillips turned when she needed 'damage control' on her sweeping and sometimes unpopular reforms."

A Karl Rove comparison? Probably not considered as much as plus in Portland as it might be in Houston.

The paper also recently put together a list of highlights to bid Mincberg adieu (along with a leggy photograph). Among them:

• In the spring of 2007, Mincberg failed to help several charter schools lease space from PPS [Portland Public Schools], even though the district had numerous empty buildings, saying "We generally find it's extremely rude to lease a building and then say, 'We need it back.'"

• In July 2007, Mincberg expressed interest in applying for the job to replace Hurricane Vicki as PPS's new superintendent, a move that riled some parents. "We've seen Cathy Mincberg in action, and it was purely tactical and without a strategic vision," parent Ben Joy said at the time in response to the news.

• From fall 2007 through most of 2008, Mincberg helped oversee the district's initial efforts to rebuild its 90-plus school buildings with the help of Magellan Consulting, a Texas firm that earned $920,000 for that work.

• In January 2008, Jobs with Justice made Mincberg "Grinch of the Year" for pushing to slash the wages of district custodians and food-service workers.

Mincberg once ran for city council here before heading west. She used to be married to David Mincberg, the former county Democratic Party chair who ran unsuccessfully for Harris County Judge last year.

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly