With Civility and Respect Vice Mayor Weissman Bids Farewell
May 5, 2016
Editors Note: Below is the text of retiring Councilman Andy Weissman. A remarkable speech, he continued his theme and commitment during not only his eight years on the council but throughout his 32 years of public service:
Congratulations, Meghan on your re-election.
Congratulations Thomas and Goran on being elected to the City Council.
Being an elected official is a tremendous honor and carries with it an awesome responsibility.
My best wishes for your success.
I speak tonight with very mixed emotions.
I recently came to the realization that tomorrow will be the first day in 32 years that I haven't had a city commission or city council meeting on my calendar.
So, on the one hand, enough is enough.
On the other hand, my heart and soul are so wrapped up in what goes on in Culver City that I fear the symptoms of withdrawal.
First and foremost, I want to recognize and thank my family for allowing me to serve (Here Weissman names his family members including his wife Doneil).
Many of my family here tonight hadn't been born when I got on my first commission in 1984.
I think everyone underestimates the time commitment that comes with public service. One needs an extraordinary level of support, encouragement and indulgence from family in order to be effective.
I am lucky to have my family behind me.
Thank you. I love you and could not have done this for so long without you.
These past 8 years have been challenging ones for Culver City.
Growing into our city manager form of government,
suffering through the Great Recession,
facing the crushing long term burden of pension and medical benefits,
watching developments grind to a halt,
experiencing the prospect of serious disruptions to services,
witnessing the determination on the part of Los Angeles to strangle our streets and neighborhoods with burdensome developments all along our borders.
We have worked hard to move the City forward in spite of those challenges.
We negotiated reforms to our pension and medical benefits, created affordable housing, fought to preserve economic development across the City, saw the opening of the Expo line and preserved the levels of service that the City provides to its residents and businesses.
The transformation of downtown, the revitalization east and west on Washington Blvd., Westfield Culver City, the Culver City station of the Expo Line, our sustainability initiatives, a Specific Plan for comprehensively regulating oil drilling operations to ensure the health and safety of the community are examples of a process that works.
Things could have gone horribly wrong and likely would have but for the hard work, dedication and determination of my colleagues on the Council, past and present and our City family.
I am proud of what the City Council has achieved over the past 8 years and the Culver City of today.
Given the magnitude of the challenges that faced Culver City and those we continue to face, this may not rise to the top of anyone else's list of accomplishments, but perhaps the thing I am most proud of is the renewed sense of civility and respect amongst the council.
I talked about it eight years ago when I was running for City Council and have tried to practice it during my time on the Council.
I have always believed that being respectful to all points of view is essential to good government
and that is more than just being a good listener.
It is having the desire, creativity and patience to engage in dialogue with those who disagree with you,
without resorting to petty insults and name-calling.
Finding ways to agree instead of looking for opportunities to highlight differences.
It seems that almost every force related to our political life operates to push the positions apart and to sharpen our disagreements.
We have become such an incredibly polarized system that the impulse to harmonize divergent interests has virtually vanished and dysfunction has become the order of the day.
A willingness and the ability to develop consensus.
Sorely lacking elsewhere perhaps, but I am proud that councils I have served with had both.
I have every confidence that this new council will continue to cultivate the art of listening, discussing policy, disagreeing without rancor and hostility, and working cooperatively to achieve mutually beneficial results.
We have much to be proud of and thankful for, but the work is far from finished.
There are enormous challenges facing the city in the years to come.
This Council will need to sort out which programs provide essential services, are the most critical to Culver City's future, how to persuade our neighbors to be good and responsible neighbors.
The Council will continue to struggle with where we are in relation to what is all around us and continue to find ways to be creative to address them.
Sorting through them will require that the Council determine the most effective use of each dollar and act cooperatively to achieve the goal of making Culver City the best possible place to live, work and play.
Merely because an existing program or a service is a good thing should not mean that spending more money on it is admirable, add or that spending less is deplorable.
A special thank you to John Nachbar.
John stepped in as our City Manager in the middle of a particularly rough patch for us.
We'd burned through 3 city managers in 2 years, the economy had tanked,
the City was looking at an $8 million dollar structural deficit, employees were nervous about their future with the City,
and then, piling on, the State decided that would be a good time to eliminate redevelopment.
John's leadership and steady hand, his calm and professional approach to problem solving, his ability to drill down to recognize what needs to be done and then deliver,has allowed the community to flourish.
Not just John, but Charles Herbertson, Sol Blumenfeld, Jeff Muir, Serena Wright-Black, Carol Schwab, Dan Hernandez, Martin Cole, chiefs Bixby and White, Michele Williams, Art Ida and all who are employed by or volunteer on behalf of Culver City.
We depend upon them and
those in this room to make Culver City the unique place it is.
I want to thank all with whom I served on the Parks and Rec Commission, Civil Service Commission, Planning Commission, and City Council for your guidance, service and commitment to Culver City.
Thank you to my colleagues and to all of you who participate in this process.
We continue to change and evolve, yet we remain a special community because of the involvement, support and encouragement of those of you here today.
We thrive as a community because of those
who invest their time, energy, caring and compassion,
working to make this city the best it can be.
It is the people who make Culver City special.
It has been my absolute pleasure to be able to serve as as a councilmember for the past 8 years.
Please, get involved and stay involved.
Thank you for being here today.