Asian American trailblazer Norman Mineta dies at age 90 : NPR


As a toddler, former Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, seen right here in 2004, spent two years of his life in a World Battle II internment camp after the Pearl Harbor assault.

Al Messerschmidt/WireImage

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As a toddler, former Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, seen right here in 2004, spent two years of his life in a World Battle II internment camp after the Pearl Harbor assault.

Al Messerschmidt/WireImage

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Norman Mineta, who broke racial boundaries for Asian Individuals serving in high-profile authorities posts and ordered industrial flights grounded after the 9/11 terror assaults because the nation’s federal transportation secretary, died Tuesday. He was 90.

John Flaherty, Mineta’s former chief of employees, mentioned Mineta died peacefully at his dwelling surrounded by household in Edgewater, Md.

“His reason for loss of life was a coronary heart ailment,” Flaherty added. “He was a rare public servant and a really pricey buddy.”

Mineta broke racial barriers for Asian Americans in turning into mayor of San Jose, Calif. He additionally was the primary Asian American to develop into a federal Cupboard secretary, serving beneath each Democratic President Invoice Clinton and Republican George W. Bush.

Bush went on to award Mineta the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In an announcement, the previous president mentioned Mineta was “an exquisite American story about somebody who overcame hardship and prejudice to serve in the USA Military, Congress, and the Cupboard of two Presidents.”

“As my Secretary of Transportation, he confirmed nice management in serving to forestall additional assaults on and after 9/11. As I mentioned when presenting him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Norm has given his nation a lifetime of service, and he is given his fellow residents an instance of management, devotion to obligation, and private character,” the previous president added.

The son of Japanese immigrants who spent two years of his childhood at a World War II internment camp, Mineta started his political profession main his hometown of San Jose earlier than becoming a member of the Clinton administration as commerce secretary after which crossing occasion traces to serve in Bush’s Cupboard.

Oversaw the creation of the TSA after 9/11

As Bush’s transportation secretary, Mineta led the division in the course of the disaster of Sept. 11, 2001, as hijacked industrial airliners barreled towards U.S. landmarks. After a second airplane crashed into the World Commerce Middle, Mineta ordered the Federal Aviation Administration to floor all civilian plane — greater than 4,500 in flight on the time. It was the primary such order given within the historical past of U .S. aviation.

It was Mineta who was subsequently charged with restoring confidence in air journey within the aftermath of the fear assaults. He oversaw the hasty creation of the Transportation Safety Administration, which took over duty for aviation safety from the airways.

Inside a 12 months, the TSA had employed tens of 1000’s of airport screeners, put air marshals on industrial flights and put in high-tech gear to display air vacationers and their baggage for bombs.

The trouble was derided on the time for wasteful spending and inflicting lengthy traces at airports. However Mineta, extensively favored and revered in Washington for his deep data of transportation points, managed to flee the brunt of that criticism.

In 2006, he resigned at age 74 after 5 1/2 years in his publish, making him the longest-serving transportation secretary because the company was created in 1967.

Born on Nov. 12, 1931, Norman Yoshio Mineta was 10 and carrying his Cub Scouts uniform when he and his dad and mom had been despatched to the Coronary heart Mountain internment camp in Wyoming after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.

He went on to graduate from the College of California, Berkeley, with a bachelor’s diploma in enterprise administration and function an Military intelligence officer in Korea and Japan. After three years with the army, he returned to San Jose to run his father’s Mineta Insurance coverage Company.

First Asian American mayor of a serious metropolis

Mineta’s foray into politics got here in 1967, when San Jose’s mayor tapped him to fill a vacant seat on town council. He gained re-election and served 4 extra years on the council earlier than profitable town’s prime seat in 1971, making him the primary Asian-American mayor of a serious metropolis, which now has an airport that bears his title.

Mineta was elected to Congress in 1974 and served 10 phrases representing Silicon Valley. Throughout his tenure, he pushed for extra funding for the FAA and co-authored a landmark legislation that gave state and native governments management over freeway and mass transit choices.

The co-founder of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus additionally scored a private victory when he helped win passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which required the U.S. authorities to apologize to the 120,000 Japanese Individuals pressured to reside in wartime internment camps. Former internees additionally obtained reparations of $20,000 every.

In 1993, Mineta turned chairman of the Home Public Works and Transportation Committee — one other first — however he shortly misplaced the job after Republicans gained management of the Home in 1994.

Mineta resigned from Congress in 1995 to affix Lockheed Martin Corp. as senior vp of its transportation division, which constructed and operated digital toll assortment techniques.

However Washington got here calling once more 5 years later when Clinton, within the closing months of his presidency, appointed him to exchange William Daley as commerce secretary.

Solely Democrat in Bush’s Cupboard

Mineta then turned the primary cupboard secretary to make the change instantly from a Democratic to Republican administration. He was the one Democrat in Bush’s Cupboard.

As transportation secretary, Mineta efficiently promoted personal funding in roads and bridges such because the Chicago Skyway and Indiana Toll Highway and helped safe passage of a $286 billion freeway spending plan after nearly two years of wrangling with Congress.

After overseeing the speedy launch of the TSA, Mineta had his division downsized by nearly two-thirds when the TSA and Coast Guard had been moved to the Division of Homeland Safety in 2003 within the greatest authorities reorganization in almost six a long time.

After retiring from public service, he joined the general public relations agency Hill & Knowlton as vice chairman and settled together with his spouse, Danealia, in Maryland close to the Chesapeake Bay.


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