Leaving office speech

      December 8, 2008, 10:00 a.m.


Nearly 3,000 days ago I took office with plans to improve the quality of life in San Diego and the 7th District in particular.  I reflect back with pride and an incredible sense of accomplishment.  Along the way however, it wasnít always easy.

Over the last eight years we endured challenges beyond anything previously imaginable.  I reflect back on some of those challenges.  They included the stalled construction of Petco Park and the resignation of a Councilmember because of it; the wildfires of epic proportions in both 2003 and 2007; to the Mt. Soledad landslide, to the FBI raids of City Hall and in its wake the resignation of two more City Councilmembers;  I reflected back on the tragic death of our dear friend and colleague Councilmember Charles Lewis.  I also reflected on the pension crisis and the ensuing SEC investigations to the election of a City Attorney who thwarted progress and cost San Diego taxpayers millions and millions of dollars.

Needless to say, we did face many challenges, but we have come a long way, we have been through a lot together and we got a lot done.

Today, despite the current recession and difficult economy, San Diego is in far better shape than when we arrived. While in office, after discovering we made some bad decisions based on faulty information, we changed things and made sure the City was paying into the pension system what hadnít been since 1996.  We set up a payment plan to return what it had been shorted.  With the current problems on Wall Street, we are not alone with pension problems Ė but at least now we are cognizant of the issue and are monitoring it like never before.  And according to the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, San Diego is now a national model for proper municipal disclosure and fiscal controls for bond issuances. 

Today our City is facing many fiscal challenges Ė and its likely things will get worse before they get better.  But at least today, we know the real score Ė and the real costs to deliver the services our citizens expect and deserve.

As I look back, it is with pride, having accomplished what I set out to do, having honored my campaign promises and leaving San Diego much better than I found it.  I am proud of my involvement in the region and the state; involved with transportation and protecting local government

Iím proud of having created San Diego Project Heartbeat Ė our regional program that places lifesaving automated external defibrillators.  Since the program began we have now saved 52 lives because an AED was available.  Iím proud that in San Diego, that AEDs are now mandatory in new construction.

Iím proud of having served on the SANDAG Board and having chaired the SANDAG transportation committee where over the last two years we brought in nearly a BILLION DOLLARS in new money for regional infrastructure.  And after much planning, trips to Washington DC and to Mexico City, just this morning, the Mayor and I were joined by Governor Schwarzenegger who came to celebrate a new Presidential Permit that gives our region license to build a new border crossing at Otay Mesa.

Iím honored to have served this past year as President to the League of California Cities where I worked with Mayors and Councilmembers from throughout California to keep our local taxes local and to help build a better California.  The passage of Local Taxpayer and Public Safety Protection Initiative, Proposition 1A, our infrastructure bonds and many others have help lay a foundation for a better tomorrow.

Many know me as a technology person Ė and I chuckled the other day as I ran across the first memo I sent as a Councilmember Ė it was when I personally reserved the domain name SanDiego.GOV and pushed through at the City Council changing our Cityís domain name from what was then less than customer friendly.

Iím proud of having pushed the creation of the Cityís Meganís Law website when in 2001 few people knew anything about the sex offenders living in their neighborhoods.  Iím proud of making our streets safer by enacting strict laws against illegal street racing.  Iím proud of having created our Cityís Neighborhood e-watch program that emails you free each day alerting you of crimes that have occurred in your neighborhood.

I am proud of what I have been able to do for in the neighborhoods for my constituents in District 7.  Iím proud that my former boss, Councilmember Judy McCarty is here who has watched me the last 15 years Ė 7 as her chief of Staff and 8 as her successor.

Iím proud of building new parks, installing new playing fields at six different schools, building new landscaped medians and finding solutions to our mini-dorm problems after so many years.  Iím proud of creating the Crossroads and Grantville redevelopment areas that will ensure more infrastructure investment in these areas of our City that so desperately need it.  Iím proud of new fire helicopters, new police vehicles, new fire trucks and a new fire station.  Iím proud of expanding Mission Trails Regional Park and building new libraries.  The list is very long and time does not allow me to list the many things weíve accomplished Ė and we accomplished a lot because we approached things from a project management approach to getting things done.

I could not have done so much Ė and many more things I havenít mentioned without the incredible support of my staff.  These folks are like family to me.  Weíve been through both good times together Ė and not so good times.  But they have been with me and stuck with me the entire time.  Several on my staff have been with me my entire term, and some even longer from my days as Chief of Staff. No other office has enjoyed such tenure and continuity Ė and this is what allowed me to do so much more on a regional and state level.  I want to thank Jay Wilson, Leslie Webb, Ellen Agey, Leslie Perkins, Elyse Lowe, Don Mullen and Marissa Luque.  I also want to thank my fantastic Chief of Staff for 8 eight years who kept us all running, Aimee Faucett.  This is by far the most organized, most experienced and best City Council staff ever.  I thank you for everything.  You can leave here today proud for all we have been able to do.

And as we turn to a new chapter for Council District 7, I offer my sincere congratulations to my neighbor Marti Emerald.

Iíve had to opportunity to meet with Marti a number of times since the election and last week we held a held a transition briefing where her new staff and my staff got together and we all spent time reviewing the issues as she embarks on an incredible journey. 

I am confident Marti will do a great job for the 7th Council District and I look forward to watching as a private citizen.

San Diego has wonderful opportunities ahead of it.  Today marks closure for some and a new beginning for others.  It has been this native San Dieganís honor to serve.  I thank you so much.  May God Bless you all.