Farewell to Outgoing Secretary Mel Martinez
Remarks as Delivered by Alphonso R. Jackson
December 11, 2003
Mr. Secretary, to Kitty, to Marcia, to the President, to Clay,
thank you very much.
You know, I have worked for a lot of fine people in my career,
but these past three years at HUD have been very special. I have
come to know Secretary Martinez as one of the finest, most compassionate,
most decent, honest, and upright public servants in government,
and I mean that truly. To use an expression you don't hear most
of the time, Secretary Martinez is a man of character, shaped by
his life experience and by the road he traveled from Cuba to America.
He came to this country - this land of democracy, with equal
rights and tolerance - as an adopted son. And he has made a wonderful
contribution to our country.
Secretary Martinez knows the American dream because he has lived
it, and he doesn't take it for granted. He knows that those who
realize the American dream have an obligation to further it with
others. He feels strongly that he should give something back to
the nation that has given him much.
It's been my honor the last three years to serve with him, and
he's built a remarkable record. He has had the commitment to expand
homeownership, used bold goals to end chronic homelessness, and
focused on tearing down barriers that have been barriers for years.
It is important for me to say it today that there is no place as
great and wonderful as this country. I say, with all sincerity and
honesty, you have today two men of color who have lived the American
Let me assure you today, Mr. Secretary, what you have achieved
here, I will protect. What you have started, I will finish.
I want to say something about RESPA in particular. Secretary Martinez
had the courage to undertake comprehensive mortgage reform, even
though people outside of the Department said it couldn't be done.
In fact, I've heard some suggest his departure will mean RESPA reform
Let me make this as clear as I can: The Department will continue
the work Secretary Martinez began of making the process of buying
and refinancing homes simple and less expensive to consumers across
this country. RESPA reform is alive and well, and you have my word
I look forward to working with all of the professional employees
on many initiatives ahead. As I traveled this country with Secretary
Martinez, we have said often that we admire and respect the dedication
that we've seen in our employees around this country.
We visited a lot of offices, and I think sometimes some of the
things I've said have been very shocking in the sense that I've
said that the least amount of knowledge that exists at HUD is on
the tenth floor. We have a bulk of knowledge existing between the
second and the ninth floor, but a huge amount of it exists in our
regional and field offices. Secretary Martinez and I have tapped
into that, and I think that's why we have been so successful these
last three years. The heart of HUD is found with the staff.
As Secretary Martinez moves on, I can assure you he will be sorely
missed because he has given us the kind of leadership that I think
all of us deserve.
Now, on behalf of the 9,300 employees nationwide, I would like
to present a farewell gift. We give this with admiration and with
our heartfelt appreciation for this Department, and we give it out
of love and respect for your leadership, Secretary Martinez.
Thank you, Mr. Secretary, and may God bless you and Kitty in your
Content Archived: March 16, 2010