Inside Seven
Current Issue: September 2014
Doug Failing, District 7 Director; Will Kempton, Director, California Department of Transportation (in spirit); and Raja Mitwasi, Chief Deputy, District 7.

by  Maria Raptis
Issue Date: 06/2007

"District 7 has done some amazing things. It’s not because you’re in Right of Way or Design or Project Management or Planning. It’s because you are District 7." - Doug Failing

On May 2, District 7 staff was invited to an intimate meeting with Director Will Kempton. Just days before, a truck hit the bridge on the I-880 MacArthur Maze in Oakland, causing its collapse, and the Director was occupied for days to follow.

In a small sort of way, this was District 7’s "State of the District Address." It is something that Director Kempton likes to do in all Caltrans districts, and in fact, joined us here last year. 

Enter stage left: Doug Failing, District 7 Director and Raja Mitwasi, Chief Deputy Director. These two leaders filled a previously scheduled three hours with three separate meetings. Stepping up to the plate in Director Kempton’s absence, Failing’s and Mitwasi’s actions spoke louder than the words of one key message which was the importance of being flexible and the ability to redirect tasks in order to accomplish the goal. These two gentlemen showed what being flexible means.

Failing took the opportunity to talk about the first round of the 2006 Bond Measure funding, District 7’s fair share of the bond monies, project delivery, challenges, improving upon completed staff work and then took questions.

Southern California usually receives 69 percent of funding based on population and generated gas tax revenues or 69 cents per every dollar generated, according to Failing.

"It is up to us to deliver…" he said, about District 7’s responsibility to deliver $1.925 billion in transportation projects, " …and we’re not going to falter. We made a strong case to get our fair share of the bond monies and we are going to be very focused and keep up with our commitments."

Mitwasi reinforced the need for all staff to complete weekly timesheets on time, the importance of taking accrued time off, minimizing excessive leave balances and encouraged more "flexibility and accountability" in organizational management.

"Accountability is today’s quality trait; don’t be afraid to be accountable. Director Kempton makes it very clear that we are all accountable," said Mitwasi. "We have control of our projects and we have to use it. We have to come through for the motoring public that we serve. "

Mitwasi stressed his message to all District 7 employees that have excess leave balances to take time off and bring those balances down. Another request was to update Lotus Notes with current and correct office locations and contact phone numbers.

"Take the time off you need and deserve," says Mitwasi. "I lead by example and took three weeks off recently," he said with a smile and a laugh from the well-attended audience. "It is not healthy and does not create a healthy work environment. Our District has a lot of work coming up and it is important to take the time off you’ve earned and deserve," said Mitwasi.

Failing ended the meeting by reminding all who were present that they are the voice and face of Caltrans when meeting with the public.

"Caltrans goes through peaks and valleys, and oh, by the way, we’re at a peak right now," said Failing. "You are all encouraged to share the District’s success stories when talking with others. I hear the public talking about what a great job we are doing and about Caltrans’ responsiveness. You are the face of Caltrans."