10:18 PM

The 'User Fee' Savior...
in My Backyard?

As President-elect Barack Obama moves quickly to solidify his transition team as well as his Cabinet, many names are starting to be floated here and there by just about all media outlets.

Of course, to us in the GA community, one appointment stands above the others, that being Obama's Transportation Secretary. That important administration position would be responsible for the FAA, which we all agree needs to be taken in a new direction under new leadership at the highest levels.

Associated Press is one source reporting that when the axe falls January 20th on Inauguration Day, most if not all of Bush's cronies will be shown the door. According to widely-circulated reports, DOT Secretary Mary Peters will be out, and one of the following will be in:

Jane Garvey,
former head of Federal Aviation Administration

Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn.,
chairman of House Transportation Committee

Mortimer Downey,
former deputy transportation secretary

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore.,
member of the House Transportation Committee
Not knowing much about Mortimer Downey and James Oberstar, I will withhold comment on their chances. But I swear the thought of Jane Garvey again being in charge of FAA makes me cringe...that is NOT change we can believe in.

My money is on Rep. DeFazio, who hails from Springfield...just across the Willamette River from Eugene. I know he is a friend of GA, and back when I was reporting on the user fee fight, his office told me this:
"If the administration's goal is to reduce congestion by forcing GA from the air, its proposal to increase the fuel tax on general aviation by 366% just might do the trick,” said Congressman DeFazio. “I believe the House Aviation subcommittee will reject the administration's proposal."
In that post I thanked DeFazio and the House Aviation subcommittee for rejecting Bush's user fee scheme. Rep. DeFazio and I have a common friend in aviation, and without naming names, that source confirmed that DeFazio is dead set against user fees, and knows the damage they would do to the fragile financial balance of our GA world.

Will President Obama pick Rep. DeFazio to sit on his Cabinet? Nobody but the White House incoming inner circle can answer that question. But know this: If he does pick Rep. DeFazio, it will be super groovy to have an important Cabinet member strolling around at Saturday Market in downtown Eugene shopping for organic romaine while also having the President's brother-in-law coaching the Oregon State Beavers just 30 minutes from my pad in Corvallis.

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