Council Member Nestor Garcia

Council Member Nestor Garcia

This is the floor speech that Honolulu City Council Chair Nestor Garcia gave on Monday, June 27, 2011, as he stepped down as chair.

BY NESTOR R. GARCIA –  THANK YOU MR. CHAIRMAN. THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH YOU ALL – BUT TIME IS SHORT, AND THERE IS STILL MUCH OF THE DAY AHEAD FOR US TO ENJOY.

I REMEMBER THE DAY I SAT OVER LUNCH LAST SEPTEMBER WITH THEN COUNCILMAN TODD APO – OUR PREVIOUS CHAIRMAN.  IT WAS DURING THAT TIME THAT I LEARNED OF HIS DECISION TO LEAVE.  COINCIDENTALLY – I WAS TO LEAVE FOR A TRIP TO CHINA THAT SAME DAY.

I ASSUMED THE POST OF THE CHAIRMANSHIP AFTER HE LEFT IN NOVEMBER – AND WAS GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO EXTEND MY SERVICE TO YOU AS YOUR PRESIDING OFFICER AT OUR FIRST MEETING OF THE NEW YEAR.

I LEARNED THAT THERE IS MUCH TO DO AS CHAIRMAN – AND I WILL SHARE A NUMBER OF PROJECTS AND PROGRAMS WITH YOU IN A DETAILED EXIT REPORT TO THE COUNCIL.

ONE OF THE FIRST ITEMS ON THE TO-DO LIST WAS HOW TO DEAL WITH THE METHOD BY WHICH WE DELIVER OUR MESSAGE OF ALOHA –

–       WITHOUT INVITING PROTEST FROM THOSE WHO WISH TO SEPARATE CHURCH FROM STATE.  I WAS ABLE TO SETTLE THAT ISSUE BEFORE OUR FIRST MEETING IN JANUARY.

THAT TO-DO LIST IS RATHER LENGTHY – FOR IT ALSO INCLUDED SUCH ITEMS AS:

–       THE PREPARATION OF THE COUNCIL BRANCH TO BETTER DEAL WITH NATURAL AND MAN-MADE DISASTERS, FOLLOWING THE TSUNAMI GENERATED BY THE EARTHQUAKE THAT HIT JAPAN.  A DRAFT OF THE EMERGENCY OPERATIONS PLAN WILL BE PLACED TODAY ON YOUR DESK;

–       THE HARDENING OF CERTAIN OFFICES AND AREAS WITHIN THE COUNCIL IN THE EVENT OF A VIOLENT ENCOUNTER;

–       UPDATING OF OUR ADMINISTRATIVE MANUAL;

–       DISCUSSIONS WITH THE MAYOR’S STAFF TO WORK TOGETHER IN LIGHT OF DEVELOPMENTS INVOLVING THE TELECASTING OF OUR WORK ON BEHALF OF THE CITY;

–       THE MOVE FOR MORE TRANPARENCY, AS EVIDENT BY THE EFFORT TO ENSURE THAT THE PUBLIC IS MADE AWARE OF FLOOR DRAFTS NOT LISTED IN OUR COUNCIL SESSION AGENDAS – WITH COPIES TO BE

MADE AVAILABLE FROM THE OFFICE OF THE CLERK FOR ALL THOSE INTERESTED IN THE PROPOSED FLOOR DRAFTS;

–       ENSURING THAT THERE WOULD BE FUNDS NECESSARY IN THE COMING FISCAL YEAR TO HOLD A STRATEGIC PLANNING SESSION – TO IMPROVE UPON THE WAY WE DO BUSINESS IN THE COUNCIL – FOR OUR CONSTITUENTS; AND,

–       AS A MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF OUR UMBRELLA ORGANIZATION – THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF COUNTIES – AS WELL AS NACO’S CO-CHAIR OF THE INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TASK FORCE – I COLLABORATED WITH OUR STATE’S MAYORS, THEIR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIRECTORS AS WELL AS EACH OF THE COUNTIES’ RESPECTIVE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BOARDS, AND THE HAWAII STATE DEPARTMENT OF BUSINESS, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND TOURISM, TO STAGE A SISTER CITIES SUMMIT IN SEPTEMBER, IN CONJUCTION WITH THE STATE’S CLEAN ENERGY CONFERENCE, IN ADVANCE OF THE ASIA PACIFIC ECONOMIC COOPERATION MEETING THIS YEAR.

I AM PROUD TO SAY THAT THE INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TASK FORCE WILL TAKE ON GREATER STATURE WITHIN NACO – AND THE INCOMING PRESIDENT HAS OFFERED TO HAVE ME CONTINUE WITH MY ROLE AS CO-CHAIR OF THE TASK FORCE.

I WANT TO TURN OVER THE REINS – TO A NEW GENERATION OF LEADERS.

TO FURTHER DEMONSTRATE MY WILLINGNESS TO WALK AWAY FROM ROLES OF LEADERSHIP – I GAVE UP MY SEAT AS VICE PRESIDENT OF THE HAWAII STATE ASSOCIATION OF COUNTIES – TO COUNCILMEMBER STANLEY CHANG – EARLIER THIS YEAR.

WITH THAT RESIGNATION – I SIGNALED THAT IT WAS MY DESIRE TO HAVE OTHERS TAKE ON ROLES OF RESPONSIBILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY – WITH THE KNOWLEDGE THAT MY TIME ON THE COUNCIL WAS SHORT – AND I NEEDED TO PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE OF OUR COUNCIL.  INDEED, MUCH OF THE WORK FOR THE SISTER CITIES SUMMIT IN SEPTEMBER – WAS HANDED OVER TO COUNCILMEMBERS CHANG AND TULSI GABBARD A FEW MONTHS AGO.

I SHARED MY THREE GOALS WHEN I ANNOUNCED MY INTENTION TO LEAVE – AND I WILL RESTATE THEM AGAIN.

THERE WAS A SENSE OF URGENCY UNDERPINNING THESE GOALS, AGAIN, AS I WAS ALWAYS AWARE THAT MY LAST TERM IN OFFICE WAS FAST APPROACHING ITS END.

1)  I NEEDED TO SEE THAT NEW GENERATION OF LEADERS WERE GIVEN EXPERIENCE NECESSARY TO CARRY ON THE WORK OF THE COUNCIL AFTER I LEAVE OFFICE.

I WATCHED THEIR WORK CLOSELY – BUT NOT TOO CLOSE AS TO STIFLE THEIR DESIRE TO SEE TO THE WORK AS THEY SAW FIT.  I WILL SAY THAT I HAVE BEEN MOST IMPRESSED WITH THEIR EFFORTS THUS FAR;

2)  I WANTED THE SAME FOR THE COUNCIL AS A WHOLE – TO GIVE THE INSTITUTION A SOUND FOOTING AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, TO INSTILL IN EVERYONE – FROM COUNCIL MEMBER TO SUPPORT STAFF – THE NEED TO TAKE THE COUNCIL TO THE NEXT LEVEL – SO WE CAN BETTER SERVE THE CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU.  I TOUCHED UPON THESE HOUSEKEEPING MATTERS, WHICH WILL BE DEFINED IN GREATER DETAIL IN THAT PREVIOUSLY MENTIONED EXIT REPORT TO THE COUNCIL. AND FINALLY;

3)  AS SOMEONE WHO HAS PRESIDED OVER THE LAST TWO BUDGET PROCEEDINGS AS CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE, I WANTED TO SEE TO IT THAT THIS COUNCIL, WITH ITS FIVE NEW MEMBERS, GET PAST WHAT I ANTICIPATED WOULD BE CHALLENGING WORK ON THE FISCAL YEAR 2012 BUDGET.

FROM WHAT I SAW – THERE WAS NO NEED TO WORRY.

THE BUDGET COMMITTEE, AS WELL AS THE WHOLE OF THE COUNCIL, GOT PAST ALL THOSE BUDGET HEARINGS, DEBATES, AND VOTES, WITH FLYING COLORS.

MY WORK IS FINISHED – OR WELL ON ITS WAY TO COMPLETION.

TO BE SURE, THERE WILL ALWAYS BE CHALLENGES – BUT I HAVE PLACED MY TRUST, FAITH AND CONFIDENCE IN THE NEW LEADERSHIP.  THIS COUNCIL IS IN GOOD HANDS.  I CALL ON MY COLLEGUES TO SUPPORT THE NEW LEADERS – FOR MANY HANDS, WILL MAKE FOR LIGHT WORK.

PLEASE ALLOW ME TO EXTEND MY THANKS TO YOU, MY COLLEAGUES, FOR THE PRIVILEGE AND THE HONOR TO SERVE AS YOUR PRESIDING OFFICER.

I READ THAT AN ACT OF GRACIOUSNESS IS ‘MARKED BY KINDNESS AND COURTESY, TACT AND DIGNITY.’  SO NOW COMES MY GRACIOUS EXIT – WITH A CLEAR MIND, A HEART FILLED WITH GRATITUDE, AND MY BEST WISHES TO THE NEW LEADERSHIP.

I LEAVE YOU ALL WITH ONE LAST QUOTE – ATTRIBUTED TO A MAN WHO ALSO SERVED 7 MONTHS AT WHAT HE CONSIDERED TO BE THE TOP TIER OF HIS PROFESSION. AT THE END OF HIS TIME – HE TOLD THE AUDIENCE ASSEMBLED:

“PLEASE, DO NOT BE CYNICAL.  I HATE CYNICISM.  IT’S MY LEAST FAVORITE QUALITY.  IF YOU WORK REALLY HARD, AND YOU’RE KIND, AMAZING THINGS WILL HAPPEN.”  HE WENT ON TO SAY THAT “I’VE HAD MORE GOOD FORTUNE THAN ANYONE I KNOW – AND IF OUR NEXT GIG IS IN A 7-11 PARKING LOT, WE WILL FIND A WAY TO MAKE IT FUN.’

IT’S BEEN AMAZING – AND IT’S BEEN FUN, MY FRIENDS.  TO ALL THE MEMBERS AND SUPPORT STAFF WHO MAKE UP OUR CITY COUNCIL – MAHALO FOR HELPING TO MAKE OUR HONOLULU AN EVEN BETTER PLACE TO LIVE, WORK AND RAISE OUR FAMILIES.

MY LOVE AND ALOHA TO YOU ALL!

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