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Obama Taps Porcari for Transportation Post

Transportation Secretary John Porcari, one of the most respected members of Gov. Martin O'Malley's cabinet, has been nominated by President Obama as second-in-command at the federal Department of Transportation, the White House announced today.

Porcari's departure will be a big loss for the O'Malley administration: He's a hardworking and experienced road and rail wonk whom the governor lured to his cabinet for a second tour as chief of Maryland's highway and public transit systems, the Port of Baltimore, BWI Marshall Airport, and the motor vehicle agency. He'll help oversee a transportation workforce of 55,000.

Porcari, 50, has overseen funding cuts to road projects in the last year, although federal stimulus money is breathing new life into the program. He is also overseeing construction of the $2.4 billion InterCounty Connector through Montgomery County.

In an interview, he said he was not seeking a federal post but got a call out of the blue from the White House personnel office a few weeks ago. "I was very pleasantly surprised," he said, and called his departure from Maryland "bittersweet."

Porcari is the second member of the governor's cabinet to decamp for Washington. Obama has also nominated Tom Perez, a former Montgomery County council member and secretary of the state's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, as assistant attorney general for civil rights.

Porcari also was transportation chief under Gov. Parris Glendening (D) from 1999 to 2002, when he was directly involved in planning and securing funding for the $2.4 billion Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

O'Malley today called Porcari an "advocate for infrastructure investment."

By Anne Bartlett  |  April 10, 2009; 3:14 PM ET
Categories:  Lisa Rein  
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Good for him. Maryland has an excellent transportation system, particularly MARC Rail and the Baltimore Light Rail. Roads are good too. 95 through Maryland is one of the better stretches of that road.

Posted by: pmeyer1 | April 10, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

John has been great for Maryland. He will be sorely missed but now will be uniquely positioned to continue to help Maryland and our nation build our infrastructure for the 21st century!

Posted by: pcomfort1 | April 10, 2009 8:53 PM | Report abuse

While Mr. Porcari is well regarded in technical circles, his record with African Americans at MDOT is horrible. The Maryland Minority Business Enterprise program at MDOT is in a shambles with none of the minority contracting goals being met. This appears to be another poorly vetted nominee.

Posted by: Lindagmorris | April 13, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

The blog from Linda Morris was quite surprising given that most of the Minority Business Enterprise Directors that I deal with, proclaim Secretary Porcari to be a great leader for the Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Program. What is more interesting is that I’ve been in the MBE arena for several years now and I am not familiar with Ms. Morris. As President of the Md. Washington Minority Contractors Association (MWMCA), I know most of the program administrators. I asked around and discovered that Ms. Morris never worked in or for the Maryland MBE Program. Maybe she has an ax to grind with Secretary Porcari. We like him just fine and will miss his leadership.

If Washington Post readers want to really know how Porcari has impacted the Maryland MBE Program they should attend the MWMCA Annual Breakfast on Friday, May 8, 2009 from 7:30am to 11:00am at Martin’s West, where Porcari will be honored, for more information contact MWMCA at 410-282-6101 or email at He was nominated and selected to receive the award for his record long before anyone heard about his nomination by President Obama.

When Porcari left state service the last time, his farewell party was hosted by the Maryland Chapter of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials.

Wayne Frazier, President

Md. Washington Minority Contractors Association

Posted by: 18051 | April 15, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

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