Honoring the Service of Donald McKinney to the United States House of Representatives and the Residents of California’s 49Th Congressional Districtby Representative Darrell E. Issa
Posted on 2013-02-15
in the house of representatives
Friday, February 15, 2013
Mr. ISSA. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize and commend the
exceptional work of Donald McKinney over the course of his 11 year
service as a District Representative in my Vista, California office. In
that role, Don was my principal representative to the communities of
Oceanside, Fallbrook, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and military and
veterans throughout the greater San Diego area.
Don's work was exceptional throughout his tenure, and he distinguished himself as a dedicated advocate for the Marines and their family members aboard Camp Pendleton. From housing and medical care, to transportation and infrastructure, Don took up any cause he believed would improve the quality of life for our Marines and dependents.
Shortly after I took office in 2001, we became aware of appalling conditions many Marine families were living in on base. The housing stock at Pendleton was worn out, some of it dated back as far as World War II, and many dwellings had mold contamination and other unsafe conditions. Don met repeatedly with base officials and over the course of many visits, carefully documented the housing conditions and assembled a binder of facts and photos. He walked miles and miles in the Pentagon halls meeting with any military or civilian leader who had a role in building or maintaining Marine housing. Don made sure that decision makers 2,000 miles away saw the pictures and understood the urgency so that it wouldn't get lost as just another line on a spreadsheet or item in a report. Marines and their families were living in these conditions, and that was unacceptable.
Today, Camp Pendleton provides some of the finest housing available to servicemembers and their dependents. Much of the older family housing has been torn down and replaced and the rest fully renovated. The base now has 29 new Bachelor Enlisted Quarters buildings. Don's advocacy raised awareness within the chain of command and contributed significantly to the improvement of housing quality aboard Camp Pendleton.
Don's work earned him the good-will of the Marine Commanders at Pendleton and he worked to ensure they had strong relationships with local leaders in adjacent communities. This paid dividends most recently when local, state and base officials work collaboratively to improve the flow of traffic at the Fallbrook Gate, reducing wait times to enter the base from 30 minutes to less than one minute. This small project provides a notable improvement in the quality of life for civilian and military personnel who commute to jobs on base each day.
Don facilitated more than 500 hours of negotiations between the Fallbrook Public Utilities District and Camp Pendleton to bring the sides to agreement to settle water rights litigation that has been pending for more than 50 years. A final draft settlement is now awaiting final approval at Marine Corps Headquarters in Washington, DC.
Finally, Don was an advocate for improved medical care for autistic military children, working to make sure they have access to the most effective treatments and to raise awareness so they can gain access to the care they need and deserve.
In a last email to his colleagues, Don shared the experiences that were most meaningful over the years. Helping an injured Marine navigate a civilian bureaucracy to get a contractors license and a single mother clear an error by the Justice Department that allowed her to run a daycare center meant the most throughout his years.
Along with these notable achievements, Don did all of the things our aides do on our behalf when Congress is in session and we are away from our districts--countless meetings, appearances at the local Rotary or Chamber of Commerce luncheon, awards presentations and other public appearances.
I extend heartfelt thanks to Donald McKinney for his good work and exceptional service on behalf of the House of Representatives and the constituents of the 49th District.
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