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[POLITICS] Profile on Norman Mineta

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  • madchinaman
    Profile: Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta Only Democrat in Bush s Cabinet Asked to Stay On http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/Inauguration/story?id=122140
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 3 2:14 PM
      Profile: Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta
      Only Democrat in Bush's Cabinet Asked to Stay On

      Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, the only Democrat in Bush's
      Cabinet, will remain in his post for a second term — after much
      speculation that he was on his way out.

      "Everyone was sort of prognosticating about where I would be going
      or when I would be going." he said in a December interview with his
      hometown paper, The Mercury News in San Jose, Calif. "In the minds
      of a lot of people it wasn't a question of if, it was a question of
      when. I would read those stories, and I would say, 'Is that right?'
      So it was a real thrill to get the call."

      He oversaw the creation of the Transportation Security
      Administration, which is now part of the Department of Homeland
      Security. The TSA was created to screen airline passengers and
      luggage. Conservatives criticized Mineta when he opposed profiling
      of Arabs at airports.

      Going into Bush's second term, Mineta is faced with some serious
      work. He is charged with helping push through Congress an unfinished
      and controversial highway bill left over from last year.

      Mineta underwent hip-replacement surgery in 2002, which put him in a
      wheelchair, and ended up fueling much of the speculation that he
      would step down at the end of Bush's term.

      A Bipartisan Cabinet Member

      Previously, Mineta served as commerce secretary in the Clinton
      administration. Before joining the Clinton Cabinet, the former
      Silicon Valley congressman sponsored a slew of transportation bills,
      served for more than 20 years on the House Transportation Committee
      and had experience in the public and private sectors that drew
      accolades from all sides.

      His confirmation hearing for his current job was practically a love-
      fest, with neither liberal California Sen. Dianne Feinstein nor then-
      Missouri Sen. John Ashcroft, a conservative, having a bad word to
      say about the nominee.

      "Frankly, I only wish this happened earlier," Feinstein said.

      Ashcroft then highlighted Mineta's "commendable service to the
      country in the private sector" — a reference to his most recent job,
      four years as an executive at the aerospace and defense contracting
      giant Lockheed Martin.

      Asian-American Pioneer

      Mineta's career is studded with firsts: First non-white city council
      member in San Jose, first Asian-American mayor of a major American
      city, first Asian-American Cabinet member.

      He made his first political contact in an unlikely place, as a 10-
      year-old in one of the West Coast internment camps where the U.S.
      government stuck Japanese-Americans during World War II. There, he
      made friends with a visiting white boy, a fellow Boy Scout — future
      Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson.

      The anti-Asian racism he encountered in 1940s California didn't dim
      his patriotism; he enlisted in the Army, serving for three years,
      and then ran his father's insurance business before entering public
      life in 1962 as part of San Jose's Human Relations Commission.

      Although Mineta has legislative passions for high-tech and aviation
      bills, he has said numerous times that his proudest achievement is
      the 1988 bill that offered an official apology and compensation to
      the surviving victims of the U.S. internment camps.

      Aside from transportation, Mineta has made his biggest splash with
      civil rights legislation, helping to write the Americans with
      Disabilities Act and a bill to help citizens with poor English
      skills vote.

      Transportation Maven

      Mineta has had his hand in most of the major transportation bills of
      the 1980s and 1990s, including airline deregulation and ISTEA, a
      1991 bill that allowed federal highway money to be used for public
      transit projects.

      After he left Congress in 1995, Mineta stayed in the public eye,
      heading a committee that reviewed the Federal Aviation
      Administration in 1998. His committee found the agency to be
      unfocused and disorganized, and recommended changes in the
      management structure.

      Mineta's viewpoint on transportation is thoroughly 21st century. As
      befitting his Silicon Valley home base, Mineta has a taste for high-
      tech transit solutions like "maglev" bullet trains that float above
      their tracks, electronic toll collection systems, computerized
      traffic management and electric cars. During a 1995 speech on future
      transportation systems, he said the nation has to move beyond merely
      repairing roads into finding new solutions for traffic.

      "Technology offers answers to many of our present-day transportation
      problems and … technology might help us avoid new transportation and
      economic problems in the future," he said.

      Mineta is married to Danealia Mineta and has two sons and two
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