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Norman Yoshio Mineta, (born November 12, 1931) is a United Statesmarker politician of the Democratic Party. Mineta most recently served in the Presidential Cabinet of George W. Bush as the United States Secretary of Transportation, the only Democratic Cabinet Secretary in the Republican George W. Bush Administration. On June 23, 2006, Mineta announced his resignation after more than five years as Secretary of Transportation, effective July 7, 2006, making him the longest-serving Transportation Secretary in the Department's history. On July 10, 2006, Hill & Knowlton, a public relations firm, announced that Mineta would join it as a partner.

Mineta also served as President Clinton's Secretary of Commerce for the last six months of his term (July 2000–January 2001). Save for a span of five days between the end of Clinton's term and Bush's appointments, Mineta spent nearly six full years as a Cabinet member.


Early life, career, and family

Mineta was born in San Josemarker, Californiamarker, to Japanesemarker immigrant parents who were not U.S. citizens at that time. During World War II the Mineta family was interned for several years in the Heart Mountainmarker internment camp near Cody, Wyomingmarker, along with thousands of other Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans. Upon arrival to the camp, Mineta, a baseball fan, had his baseball bat confiscated by authorities who feared that it was a weapon. Many years later, after Mineta was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, a Los Angeles man sent Mineta a $1,500 bat that was once owned by Hank Aaron, which Mineta was forced to send back as it violated the House rule of accepting gifts valued over $250. Mineta was quoted as saying, "The damn government's taken my bat again."

While detained in the camp, Mineta, a Boy Scout, met fellow Scout Alan K. Simpson, future U.S. Senator from Wyomingmarker, who often visited the Scouts in the internment camp with his troop. The two became, and have remained, close friends and political allies.

He graduated from the University of California, Berkeleymarker's School of Business Administrationmarker (since named in honor of Walter A. Haas, Sr.) in 1953 with a degree in Business Administration. Upon graduation, Mineta joined the US Army and served as an intelligence officer in Japanmarker and Koreamarker. He then joined his father in the Mineta Insurance Agency.

Mineta is married to Danealia (Deni) Mineta. He has two sons, David and Stuart Mineta, and two stepsons, Robert and Mark Brantner.

Councilman and Mayor of San Jose

His political career began in 1967 when he was appointed to a vacant San Jose City Council seat by mayor Ron James. In 1969 he was elected in his own right to his seat on the council and became the vice mayor. In 1971 he ran against 14 other candidates to replace James. Mineta won every precinct in the election, and with over 60% of the total vote, and was elected the 59th Mayor of San Jose, becoming the first Asian American mayor of a major U.S. city. As mayor, Mineta ended the city's 20 year old policy of rapid growth by annexation, creating development free areas in East and South San Jose. His vice mayor, Janet Gray Hayes, succeeded him as mayor in 1975.

United States Congress

From 1975 to 1995 he sat in the United States House of Representatives representing the Silicon Valleymarker area. He co-founded the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and served as its first chair. Mineta served as chairman of the House Public Works and Transportation Committee between 1992 and 1994. He chaired the committee's aviation subcommittee between 1981 and 1988, and chaired its Surface Transportation Subcommittee from 1989 to 1991.

During his career in Congress he was a key author of the landmark Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991. He also pressed for more funding for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Mineta, with his friend Republican Senate Whip Alan Simpson, was also the driving force behind passage of H.R. 442, the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which officially apologized for and redressed the injustices endured by Japanese Americans during World War II. In 1995, George Washington Universitymarker awarded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Medal to Mineta for his contributions to the field of civil rights.

Private sector

Mineta resigned his seat mid-term to accept a position with Lockheed Martin in 1995. The Democrats subsequently lost this district when Republican Tom Campbell defeated Democratic candidate Jerry Estruth in the special election held to fill the vacated seat. Mineta chaired the National Civil Aviation Review Commission, which in 1997 issued recommendations on reducing traffic congestion and reducing the aviation accident rate. Many of the commission's recommendations were adopted by the Clinton administration, including reform of the FAA to enable it to perform more like a business.

Secretary of Commerce

After serving as vice president of Lockheed Martin Corporation, he was appointed in 2000 by President Clinton as the United States Secretary of Commerce, making him the first Asian American to hold a post in the presidential cabinet.

Secretary of Transportation

He was appointed United States Secretary of Transportation by President George W. Bush in 2001, a post he was originally offered eight years previously by Bill Clinton. He was the only Democrat to have served in Bush's cabinet and also the first Secretary of Transportation to have previously served in a cabinet position. He became the first Asian American to hold the position, and only the fourth person to be a member of Cabinet under two Presidents from different political parties (after Edwin M. Stanton, Henry L. Stimson, and James R. Schlesinger). In 2004, Mineta received the Tony Jannus Award for his distinguished contributions to commercial air transportation.

When he was re-elected, President Bush invited Mineta to continue in the position, and he did so until resigning in June 2006. When he stepped down on July 7, 2006, he was the longest serving Secretary of Transportation since the position's inception in 1967.

September 11

During the September 11, 2001 attacks, Mineta issued an order to ground all civilian aircraft traffic for the first time in U.S. history.

Mineta's testimony to the 9/11 Commission about his experience in the Presidential Emergency Operating Center with Vice President Cheney as American Airlines flight 77 approached the Pentagon was not included in the 9/11 Commission Report. In one colloquy testified by Mineta, the vice president refers to orders concerning the plane approaching the Pentagon:

Commissioner Lee Hamilton queried if the order was to shoot down the plane, to which Mineta replied that he did not know that specifically.

Mineta's testimony to the Commission on Flight 77 differs rather significantly from the account provided in the January 22, 2002 edition of the Washington Post, as reported by Bob Woodward and Dan Balz in their series "10 Days in September"

This same article also reports that the conversation between Cheney and the aide occurred at 9:55 am, about 30 minutes later than the time Mineta cited (9:26 am) during his testimony to the 9/11 Commission.

After hearing of Mineta's orders, Canadian Transport Minister David Collenette also issued orders to ground all civilian aircraft traffic across Canada, resulting in Operation Yellow Ribbon. On September 21, 2001, Mineta sent a letter to all U.S. airlines forbidding them from practicing racial profiling; or subjecting Middle Eastern or Muslim passengers to a heightened degree of pre-flight scrutiny. He stated that it was illegal for the airlines to discriminate against passengers based on their race, color, national or ethnic origin or religion. Subsequently, administrative enforcement actions were brought against three different airlines based on alleged contraventions of these rules, resulting in multi-million dollar settlements.

The Norman Y.marker Mineta San José International Airportmarker in San Josemarker was named after him in November 2001 when Mineta was serving as Secretary of Transportation. The Mineta Transportation Institute, located at San José State Universitymarker, and California State Highway 85 are also named after him.

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow announced on June 23, 2006, that Mineta would resign effective July 7, 2006, because "he wanted to," with a spokesman for Mineta saying he was "moving on to pursue other challenges." He left office as the longest-serving Secretary of Transportation in history.

After leaving Bush administration

Hill & Knowlton announced on July 10, 2006, that Mineta will join the firm as vice chairman, effective July 24, 2006.

In 2007, the Japanese government conferred the Grand Cordon, Order of the Rising Sun.

In December 2006, Mineta was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

On February 4, 2008, the day before the closely contested California Democratic Primary, Mineta endorsed Barack Obama.

Beginning in summer 2008, Mineta began service as Chairman of a Panel of the National Academy of Public Administration overseeing a study of modernization efforts at the United States Coast Guard. Other notable members of the Panel include former Office of Personnel Management Director Janice Lachance and former NASAmarker Administrator Sean O'Keefe.

He will serve as the keynote speaker at the UC Berkeley December Graduates Convocation on December 13, 2009.

See also


  2. "Japan honors Norman Mineta, Daniel Okimoto," San Jose Business Journal. June 6, 2007.

External links

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