As you know, we have received our marching orders. Department offices will be closed the first and third Friday of the month for the next 17 months, beginning Friday, February 6. I am very aware of and deeply saddened by the financial strain this will place on many of our Caltrans families. But we are strong and resourceful and we will face this challenge as we do every other.
Even in these times we are able to share some good news in that we have employees who have been promoted. You’re all aware that we have a new Deputy for Administration, Duncan McIntosh. He’s been with us in District 7 since 1980. Duncan has worked very hard for Caltrans. He’s been Chief of the Graphics Arts office for the last period of time while also serving as one of Governor Schwarzenegger’s primary photographers. He’s now part of the Executive staff and we welcome him aboard.
The second promotion is our new Deputy for Construction, who we announced this last week, Roy Fisher. Most people in construction know Roy. He’s been a structures construction guy for the longest time. We are really happy to have him with us, sharing his expertise and moving forward with our Executive team. We have a lot of work coming up, we have a lot of challenges and our new deputies are going to fit in well and help us move things forward as a district, doing the interesting work we always do. .
For example, we were doing some soil sampling recently out on the I-710 corridor. What was surprising to me was how much interest the media had in this activity. Earlier in January, we were taking core tests using a number of drillers from Sacramento. We appreciate them coming down and doing the drilling, along with our other Headquarters geotechnical employees who are doing the interpreting. But we’re just running some core samples to see what the soil looks like underneath the ground, and we will continue such soil exploration. The media came out of the woodwork just to see what they were doing – probably because it’s the 710 corridor. Obviously all we’re doing is looking to see the ground underneath to see if tunneling is really feasible in these corridors. There’s a good article that talks about what the analysis is and how we interpret the data. The 710 is an old issue and we need to have a new approach to it. Tunneling might be that approach. We won’t know until we’re done with our studies.
While we continue to find new ways to serve the public, we also look for ways to improve our interactions with each other. I was very pleased that the new head of the Equal Employee Opportunity office, Gwiin Correa, recently held an open house. I had a chance to swing by for a few minutes and I saw so many employees who had come in to meet her, talk to her staff and see their space. Gwiin is such an important member of our team. I’m very pleased with the way she has taken control and is helping to move things forward for us. There are some excellent training opportunities coming up, so make sure you pay attention. We are a very diverse district. Lots of people bring lots of strengths and new ideas. It’s important that we find ways to use all of those strengths that you bring to us.
I also have a chance here to talk about a good friend, someone who’s been in the district a long time, about the same amount of time I have. The Employee Spotlight this month is about Tony Cole, who really is in a very unique position in that he operates as an ombudsman for me. He provides outreach for the Executive Office to high level city and county officials—to find small problems and fix them before they become big problems. He has some fantastic things to tell you about.
These are just a few of the many things that are going on in this district. We are, without question, in difficult times. And I’m very worried about the impact the State’s financial condition will have on all employees. But at the same time I’m so proud of all we accomplish and confident that we will continue the excellent work we do together. We’re going to go forward and do our jobs the best we can. Now, let’s get the job done.