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Who is new House Transportation Committee Chair John Mica?

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on November 3rd, 2010 at 12:31 pm

National Bike Summit - Day two-56
Rep. John Mica at a BikePAC fundraiser
during the 2009 National Bike Summit.
(Photo © J. Maus)

With Democrats no longer controlling the House, Representative John Mica (R-FL) will most likely replace Jim Oberstar as Chair of the all-important Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. But just who is John Mica? I look forward to reporting on and learning more about him in the coming months, but for now, we've got two clues.

First, a statement he just released via the official House website says in part,

“... Among my top legislative priorities will be passing a long-term federal highways and transit reauthorization, a long-overdue Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization, a new water resources measure, and a long-term Coast Guard reauthorization.

I will also focus on major initiatives to find ways within the Committee’s jurisdiction to save taxpayer dollars. That includes better management and utilization of federal assets, including real property, and more efficient, cost effective passenger rail transportation, including a better directed high-speed rail program.”

I also recall meeting Rep. Mica at a fundraiser during the 2009 National Bike Summit. Here's what I reported following that event:

"The last member of Congress to make it to the party last night was Rep. John Mica from Florida... He shared candidly that, while he and Rep. Earl Blumenauer "have our disagreements from time to time," he is supportive of biking. Mica boasted that Florida leads the nation in rail-trails and then said in a self-deprecating tone, "That's pretty good for a right-wing, knuckle-dragging conservative." On that note, Mica said that as a Republican he has to support biking "quietly". "I did a path over an interstate years ago," he said, and then began to smile, "but we didn't send out a press release on it.""

He won't have to do anything "quietly" anymore. But the question remains... to what extent will he support bicycling?

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  • rixtir November 3, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Florida has the worst record in the nation for bicycle safety. And now the House Transportation Committee will be chaired by a Congressman from Florida. Super.

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  • q`Tzal November 3, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Pitch it (bicycle and pedestrian facilities) as fiscal conservatism.

    The heavy trucking and freight rail industries have been paying their way for decades; it's far past time for the automotive public to bear the full expense of operating private vehicles on roads that have to be maintained by public taxes.

    Revenue for the transportation system needs to come directly from users based on incurred maintenance costs and a factor for space used as function of use that impairs other users by simply being occupied. The split should be around 90%/10% for weight vs space.
    As such, larger vehicles will pay more simply by function of being heavy but road hogging over-sized SUVs with a light load would not get by simply by being lighter.
    Conversely, cyclists are relatively weightless compared to autos but do actually take up some space on the road.

    Selfish single occupancy auto drivers have been sucking on the teat of property taxes for subsidizing their cheap ride for too long; they need to pay their way like the commercial sector does.

    That sounds despicable coming out but if politics is all about spin and smear then the trick is to show them their own hypocrisy and make them acknowledge it.

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  • West Cougar November 3, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    "Selfish single occupancy auto drivers" ...are the vast majority of the electorate, a dysfunctional co-dependent one, but a majority nonetheless. They aren't going to vote themselves out of the one entitlement they use everyday and have leveraged most of their existence upon.

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  • rixtir November 3, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Fiscal conservatism is just talk. The fiscal conservatives spend like the drunken sailors they spend all their time deriding (unfunded war in Iraq, anyone?). The"fiscal conservatives" will continue to subsidize the oil industry (and automobile use), simply because their talk of fiscal conservatism is just that-- talk.

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  • Sean G November 3, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    Things could be worse. For a conservative, being pro-bicycle is often a political liability, as can be inferred from both West Cougar and rixtir. That he even speaks in moderately positive tones about bikes is the best we can hope for in this case. I just hope he lives up to this "quiet" rhetoric.

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  • rixtir November 3, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Yes, quietly supportive is certainly better than aggressively hostile.

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  • ambrown November 3, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    As upset as I am about the midterm election results, it is clear to me that in the active transportation and livable streets communities just need to gear up and be ready to work even harder to convince legislators about our vision for the country.

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  • Greg November 3, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    @ #2 q'Tzal

    Count me as a conservative who agrees with your direct fee for service plan. People should pay for what they use and they should pay proportionally for maintenance based upon the wear and tear they cause. I would especially like to see that extended to mass transit. No more subsidies and let the riders pay the full price for all of those empty behemoths lumbering around the metro area. Should be no more than what, $100 per ride? hehehe

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  • 54andCloudy November 3, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    Let's get out ahead of this. It's time for the Bicycle Business League, the BTA, and the Bicycle Advisory Committee to invite him to Portland to show him what we're doing, tell him what we need, and talk about what's possible. Make him the Grand Marshall of a Summer Parkways parade. Throw in a fundraiser to make it worth his while. Let him know we want to work with him to make transportation more efficient.

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  • bike/max rider November 3, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    #2 and #8

    i totally agree! same for schools too!!! i don't have kids, so why are my taxes paying for them!!!

    google society or community.

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  • Spencer Boomhower November 3, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    rixtir #6:

    "Yes, quietly supportive is certainly better than aggressively hostile."

    Yup.

    As for "aggressively hostile," that would be our new Speaker of the House:

    http://bikeportland.org/2009/01/12/rep-john-boehner-widen-highways-for-american-families-13273

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  • old&slow November 3, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Hey it doesn't really matter anyway.
    According to some here, they all the same, Dem, repub, teabagger, it won't make a difference.
    They are all "the man", all just trying to screw us common folk.
    I hope you all enjoyed the election results, you know, those who didn't vote, said it doesn't matter who gets elected.
    We will see now.
    Blumenauer is back in the minority, Olberstar is gone,
    Oh well, I am sure the new tax breaks the Republican congress gives to all the wealthy people will trickle down to cyclists.
    Thanks a lot, also to the 10% of the 18-29 year olds who voted.
    You are most of the cyclists around this town, but apparently you were too "busy".
    I hope you are all too busy to bitch about what is going to happen with the teabaggers running the show and alternative transportation funding cut to nothing. But, they really are "all the same" anyway.

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  • Jerry_W November 3, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Let's quietly work with him to see what we can get. Lots of communication with Blumenauer and DeFazio will be the best way to channel our concerns and needs. I'm hoping for the best. We really need Kitzhabber, Dudley appointees are the ones that scare me, not the Dud himself.

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  • Racer XXX November 3, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    If tax breaks need to be done ... How about a made in america frame set tax break of 50%?!

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  • q`Tzal November 3, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    Let me just clarify my bizarre brand of fiscal conservatism: I'm not against spending, I'm against hiding the source revenue stream in layers of tax code obfuscation.

    I'm against the government budget mentality that requires that a department expend all of their annual budget to be assured that they get the same amount next year. These budgets often include enough extra funding to cover higher than average operating expenses, often unplanned expenditures as well, but no mechanism to retain any cost savings that may occur. The only way to keep the funding for normal year to year operations is to spend every cent up of your organization's budget.

    From there I diverge with the current "Conservative(tm)" political group. I believe that spending money can save money, both in the short term and long term.
    Education, social services, unemployment insurance, health care, rehabilitation of criminals: cents spent in advance can easily head off dollars needed to resolve the societal and economic woes that come from a complete "hands off" policy.

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  • spare_wheel November 3, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    "According to some here, they all the same, Dem, repub, teabagger, it won't make a difference."

    i voted. but not for the corporate-captured democratic party. as for earl the pearl, i care far more about social justice than streetcars.

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  • Al from PA November 4, 2010 at 4:28 am

    It's not useful to think of republicans as representing voters--for the most part (and who are the exceptions?) they represent financial interests. One could mention, as metonyms, Goldman-Sachs, Exxon, Ford, etc. What they do is what corporate America wants. If Boehner (or any other republican) denigrates cycling, that's corporate America speaking.

    Until Trek, Specialized, Doral, etc. start throwing some serious money in Boehner's direction cycling will be dead in Washington. The problem, of course, is that as an industry bicycling is not that huge. Earnings are measured in millions, not billions. This means that solutions will continue to come mainly from the local level rather than from Washington--as Portland has so brilliantly demonstrated.

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  • Pete November 4, 2010 at 10:26 am

    Racer XXX (#14): Hear, hear! Santa, I want Lynskey Ti for Christmas (and leave the receipt for my write-off ;)

    Al (#17): Great point. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Washington just remove the cap from campaign donations this past year?

    "Chair recognizes the Senator from Texaco..."

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  • GlowBoy November 4, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Hey Greg (#8), does your suggestion also extend towards requiring DRIVERS to pay for the use of the roadways? They sure don't do so today.

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  • Greg November 4, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    GlowBoy @ #8:

    Absolutely. I see no reason why a civilized society should tolerate ANY group of people sticking a gun in the face of others to subsidize their lifestyle choices. And, make no mistake about it, taxation is extracted under threat of violence. The one exception being the lottery, which is a tax on stupidity.

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  • BURR November 7, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    nice toupe

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