Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Back from Pensacola

Over the last two weeks, I met an incredible, committed group of 22 other fellow Americans from diverse cultural, geographic, and professional backgrounds, all of whom were serving alongside me in Pensacola, Florida as Direct Commission Officers (DCO) in the U.S. Navy.

I met doctors and nurses, college deans and law enforcement officers, engineers, academics, and public servants. Staying in barracks on the historic and beautiful Pensacola Naval Air Station, we tested ourselves against a rigorous academic, athletic, and leadership training regime. We started most of our days at 4:30 in the morning and we worked into the evening. We were inspected, graded, drilled, and inspired by our instructors, who let us go with a solemn and moving graduation ceremony that recognized that during our two weeks of training, two dozen young people had lost their lives serving in the Armed Forces.

We were almost visited by Hurricane Ernesto, who politely down-shifted into a tropical storm and passed just to the east of us. Our days regularly topped 100 degrees and 100% humidity.

I missed Los Angeles. While I was gone, I stayed in regular touch with my office and my staff to keep tabs on the district and in the city. The lessons in leadership and discipline of Pensacola have inspired me to look with new eyes at the challenges facing our city. I'm glad to be back.