‘The Gray Lady’ opposes Ferro for FMCSA

In an editorial that closely follows arguments made by safety advocacy groups and the Teamsters Union, The New York Times today, Sept. 23, contended that Anne Ferro’s record disqualifies her to be head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Ferro, currently head of the Maryland Motor Truck Association, testified during an afternoon Senate Commerce Committee hearing on her nomination.

Promptly after President Obama announced Ferro as his choice for FMCSA administrator this spring, several organizations – the Teamsters Union, the Truck Safety Coalition, Public Citizen and Parents Against Tired Truckers – wrote the president opposing her due to her current ties to trucking and her past public support for current hours-of-service regulations.

The New York Times editorial calls Ferro’s selection a “peculiar choice” for the job due to her current position as head of MMTA and a letter to The Baltimore Sun that she co-authored in defense of the Bush administration’s hours rules. While The Times argues that Ferro’s selection violates the spirit of the Obama administration’s decision to limit the ability of lobbyists to enter government, it acknowledges that the executive order bars only federally registered lobbyists, which Ferro is not.

Aside from heading MMTA, Ferro serves on regional advisory committees on freight planning, highway safety and transportation funding. And she was Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administrator from 1997 to 2003, where she is credited with leading the effort to establish a graduated licensing program for new state drivers.

During the confirmation hearing, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who heads the Commerce Committee’s surface transportation panel, told Ferro that FMCSA is “an agency in dire need of reform” and that he was concerned about her “ability to take the bold action we need to keep Americans safe.” Ferro described herself as a safety advocate, pointing to her record in Maryland.