Norm Mineta, the longest serving US transportation secretary, resigned after a 5 1/2 year tenure that encompassed the 2001 attacks, the reshaping of aviation security and the airlines' financial crisis. Mineta, 74, one of three remaining members of President George W. Bush's original cabinet and the only Democrat in the group, served two presidents, taking the Bush post after serving as President Bill Clinton's commerce secretary starting in July 2000.
He spent 21 years, until 1995, in the House of Representatives, including several terms heading the aviation subcommittee and one term as chairman of its parent, the Public Works and Transportation Committee. His Southern California district included Silicon Valley and San Jose, where the airport is named after him. As a child, Mineta was forced into a wartime relocation camp for Japanese, although he is a Californian native. In the Wyoming camp, he acquired a life-long passion for baseball. A frequent jump-seat rider in airliner cockpits, Mineta was highly respected by both labour and management. But health problems, including a painful back condition and respiratory problems, plagued his last few years. Still, aides said he would keep working, and noted that he had run Lockheed Martin's intelligent vehicle highway-technology systems after leaving Congress. Mineta's letter of resignation to Bush, released 23 June and highlighting points in his tenure, is here: http://www.dot.gov/affairs/MinetaLetter.pdf