The mayor today offered up Gloria Jeff to run the Department of Transportation, subject to City Council approval. Jeff resigned last month as director of the Michigan Department of Transportation, where she had been the first woman and first African American to hold the post. The Detroit Free Press liked her and editorialized at the time:
The state has lost a straight -- sometimes blunt -- speaking professional who always put policy above politics. That was her undoing -- and the state's loss -- as the director's job became excessively political.
Jeff's relationship with the road construction industry was less cozy than some past directors' had been. She viewed the industry as important constituents, but she also wanted to invest in mass transit and ensure that smaller and minority-owned contractors had an opportunity to bid on big road projects. From her start in January 2003, she made it clear that MDOT operated a transportation system, not just a highway department....
Behind the headlines, Jeff did great things for Michigan, doubling the investment in repairing and rebuilding local bridges, improving roads with a fix-it-first program, contributing to a successful Super Bowl week, setting up state transportation summits and increasing the participation of firms owned by minorities and women.
Leff had been a deputy administrator of the Federal Highway Administration under President Bill Clinton. Villaraigosa's release says of her:
"Gloria Jeff is a proven leader and manager, with a track record for relieving traffic congestion. She also shares my vision for improving transit, supporting transit oriented development, and developing a goods movement strategy for Los Angeles. Ms. Jeff is a dynamic individual who has succeeded at all levels of government. I have the utmost respect for her and I am confident she will be instrumental in easing traffic congestion in Los Angeles."
She begins on an interim basis March 20.