Ray LaHood

All Good in LaHood

What happened the last time you flew? Did an unforeseen delay stretch into an interminable departure-lounge purgatory, infused with the scent of Burger King, Cinnabun, and cleaning fluid? Maybe you were lucky enough to get on the plane as scheduled, only to be held on the tarmac for an hour or two, or overnight, like those passengers in Rochester, Minnesota, back in August 2009 (after which a passenger reflected, “Now I know what it’s like to be in hell”).

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Bicycle Rights?

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was set to ride a bicycle across Portland, Ore.’s Hawthorne Bridge this morning.                        Which of course reminded me of this…   

Signposts

Things worth checking out around the web: The time required to start a business would seem to be a basic metric of global competitiveness. Check Charts Bin’s map based on World Bank data and note that business start ups in Suriname must be approved by the president, hence the nearly two year wait. The Center for Neighborhood Technology has a nice data visualization tool for their Housing + Transportation Affordability index. Wonder what the second largest road project funded by the stimulus bill (ARRA) is? (The largest is the DFW Connector in the Dallas-Ft.

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Bike-Lash!

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s recent advocacy of treating cycling and walking as integral parts of holistic transportation planning has generated comment after comment after comment--mostly favorable. That’s not to say the idea is without its share of controversy. The National Association of Manufacturers said the policy lacked connection to the real world and the role of the United States as a modern industrial economy. Members of Congress questioned cycling projects’ ability to create jobs. Others called it pandering to the spandex crowd.

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Lost in the hubbub about health care last week were some remarkable comments from U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood. While certainly not as weighty as many of the issues Washington is wrestling with now that Congress is back in session, they represent a sea-change in rhetoric about national transportation policy. “[We] want to allow counties and cities to work together to develop regional plans reflecting both regional and national priorities. Then we'd fund them directly. The fact is, metro areas hold over 80 percent of the U.S. population. They're major centers of economic activity.

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Greenwire's Josh Voorhees has an insightful piece about how new Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is trying to be cautious about what he says these days, especially after causing a minor fracas last month when he publicly suggested a per-mile tax on driving.

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Almost all of Barack Obama’s cabinet members have been outstanding. You can quarrel with Hilary Clinton’s foreign policy views or Tom Vilsack’s position on organic food or New York Fed Chief Tim Geithner’s proximity to Wall Street, but you can’t quarrel with their qualifications for the job. And Obama has managed to pull together a cabinet that represents the full spectrum of his majority coalition without a hint of tokenism. Who better than Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano to run Homeland Security or Dr. Steven Chu as energy secretary?

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Could Be Lahood

Chicago Tribune's The Swamp, the WSJ, and other sources are reporting that retiring Illinois Congressman Ray LaHood might be tapped as Obama's transportation secretary:  LaHood, a long-time staff aide to the affable then-House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-Ill.) who took his boss's seat when Michel retired, was elected along with a tide of Republicans led by Newt Gingrich. But he did not follow the same highly partisan path that characterized the class elected with him. Among those LaHood maintained a friendly relationship with over the years is White House chief of staff- designate Rep.

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It disappeared so quickly that it is easy to forget the bipartisan patriotism and common purpose that existed in Washington immediately after September 11, 2001. Perhaps the most memorable event from that period was the gathering of members of Congress from both parties on the steps of the Capitol to sing "God Bless America." Another such episode--little-noticed, but actually more remarkable--occurred the following month.

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