Former transportation secretary has a new job

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Norman Mineta has assumed duties as vice chairman of an international public relations and lobbying firm based in Washington, D.C., after more than five years in charge of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Mineta will counsel Hill & Knowlton clients on domestic and international issues, said Paul Taaffe, the firm’s chairman and chief executive officer.

The only Democrat in President Bush’s Cabinet, Mineta was the longest serving transportation secretary in the history of that post. He also was U.S. secretary of commerce under President Clinton. Before that, he served as a California congressman, representing Silicon Valley, for two decades.

In his July 6 farewell speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Mineta discussed the plan he recently introduced to reduce traffic congestion nationwide in less than a decade. Americans need to accept private sector investment, from the United States and overseas, in the transportation system in order to avoid economic isolation in an interconnected world, Mineta said. “It will necessitate a cultural change to move from a government-monopoly model for much of our transportation infrastructure toward acceptance of the private sector and market forces,” he said.

Maria Cino, who was deputy secretary of the Republican National Committee during the 2004 elections, is serving as acting transportation secretary until Mineta’s successor is nominated by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. President Bush appointed her Mineta’s deputy secretary in April.

During his first term, Bush appointed Cino as assistant secretary and director general of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service at the U.S. Department of Commerce. In this position, she was responsible for connecting small and medium-sized businesses with export opportunities, and protecting U.S. businesses overseas. Before serving on the 2000 Bush campaign, Cino was a consultant for a Washington, D.C., law firm. From 1993 to ’97, Cino was executive director and chief operating officer of the National Republican Congressional Committee.