The San Antonio Express-News has a story today by columnist Gilbert Garcia about Munoz’s experience in handling a project called Museo Alameda. (Garcia, you may recall, wrote a well-received book about the 1976 presidential primary in Texas called Reagan’s Comeback.) I don’t think Obama would be cheered by the headline for the story: MUSEO PROVED MUNOZ WAS BETTER AT RAISING THAN HANDLING FUNDS.
A quick excerpt:
As the founding director of the Museo, Muñoz collected $12 million from public and private sources (including $500,000 from the city, and much larger contributions from AT&T and Ford Motor Co.) to open the museum with considerable fanfare in April 2007. He threw a glittery, three-night christening bash. He brought in Linda Ronstadt to sing mariachi. He boasted that the museum’s opening signified “the realization of an American dream.”
While he was picking out snappy guayaberas to wear at the pachangas, however, Muñoz seemed to pay little mind to the pesky detail of making the museum financially and creatively viable.
A New York Times review the week after the opening couldn’t help but note the puzzling incoherence of a museum that purported to tell the story of the “Latino experience in America” by exhibiting a purse belonging to Laura Bush and a brooch owned by Lady Bird Johnson.
Muñoz wasted large sums on furniture and lavish parties, according to sources close to the museum. He put ill-equipped people in key staff positions, and grew bored when budgets were discussed. He allowed a $1 million grant from the Henry Ford Learning Institute, specifically earmarked for the Ford-affiliated Alameda School for Art & Design, to be diverted to the museum. In 2009, with the museum foundering, he walked away.
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Did Obama do his due diligence before naming Henry Munoz III the new finance chair of the Democratic National Committee? I thought it was a promising appointment, until I called a well-connected Democratic consultant earlier this week after I had heard the news of Obama’s choice of Munoz. His immediate reaction was, “Oh, no.”