"The selection of a chairman based on cronyism ... It's what Texans have come to expect from the increasingly oblivious leadership of Rick Perry."
Perry errs in choice for top TxDOT job
San Antonio Express-News
Perhaps Gov. Rick Perry is right. Perhaps Deirdre Delisi is the most qualified person in Texas to lead the state Transportation Commission. There's no denying that the Duke University graduate, who also has a master's degree in international policy studies from Stanford University, is a very bright and competent individual.
But there's also no getting around the fact that the primary reason Perry tapped the 35-year-old Austin resident to head the commission is that she worked for him for nine years as chief of staff, senior deputy chief of staff, deputy chief of staff and director of Perry's 2002 gubernatorial campaign, as well as serving on his staff when he was lieutenant governor and working in his campaign for that office.
In a February interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, the no-nonsense chairman of the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee, offered his opinion about the rumored appointment.
“We don't need political hacks in that position,” he said. “We need people who understand the business. We need people who understand transportation. We don't need someone who's unpopular with the Legislature.”
Major missteps and public relations fiascos have destroyed public confidence in the Transportation Commission and the Texas Department of Transportation. The interim chairmanship of Hope Andrade, after the sudden death last year of Ric Williamson, had begun to repair some of that damage. The selection of a chairman based on cronyism will further erode public trust.
What makes Delisi's appointment more galling is that Perry is replacing Andrade on the commission. The move means that between the chairman and four commissioners, none lives in South Texas, denying an often-neglected region representation on the crucial commission.
A governor who wasn't tone deaf to public criticism wouldn't make that kind of mistake. Unfortunately, it's what Texans have come to expect from the increasingly oblivious leadership of Rick Perry.
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