Lucilla (Lucie) Ayer
Executive Director - Hillsborough County "Metropolitan Planning Organization" (MPO)

In the first week of April 1995, near  "April Fool's Day," 48-year-old Lucilla (Lucie) Ayer was named  the de-facto planning-czar, executive director of Hillsborough county's arcane, agenda driven long range transportation planning agency -- the  Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).  Ayer, an alumna of the University of Miami where she graduated cum laude with a master's degree in urban and regional planning and an undergraduate degree in urban sociology, was hired into her then new position at a starting salary of  $84,000 and placed in charge of the MPO's 25 person planning bureaucracy. 

Ayer's career path to this position, gained over 65 other applicants, was carefully  orchestrated by her boss,  long-time friend and mentor,  Tom Thomson who had previously resigned as MPO director  in November.  For years, Thomson had been Ayer's most constant and dependable supporter.  In fact, it had been Thomson six-years earlier in 1989,  who had mentored  Lucilla to the Hillsborough county MPO from a Miami post with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), itself a position for which he had earlier hired her. Explained Thomson, "I've hired her twice, and I know she is coming to this job [MPO executive director] with all the qualities and talents she needs. Her experience with the MPO will let her get a running start. She already knows the board members and she knows the issues." 

Robert Hunter, executive director of the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission, concurred in  Thomson's recommendation and effected the final hiring decision. On the occasion of Ayer's posting  Hunter explained: "She has a unique background and an intimate knowledge of state and federal laws. It was Ayer's work previous post with the Metro-Dade Transit Agency and experience administrating both aviation, rail, road and transit projects that impressed interviewers. She has a working knowledge of how Metro-Dade developed its multi-modal [rail in particular] operations that we can use in this community." In layman's terms,  Ayer had been a "good soldier" and dependable functionary in that massive economic disaster and  Taxpayer transit ripoff   known as Metro-Dade's MetroRail Metro Mover transit system. 

In truth,  perhaps Ayer's most attractive professional qualifications to mentors Thomson and Hunter was their shared perception of her devotion and willingness to serve the planning establishments relentless and wrong-headed crusade to push  their pet transit fetish -- light rail;  a bias  "signaled" in an earlier Hunter quote:  "We can never build enough roads, so the community is looking to other modes of transportation [rail]."  Like an impassioned firefly, Ayer had enthusiastically  "signaled" back to her "Railist" mentors that her "...background ..." made her: "...more receptive to nontraditional transportation ideas [particularly rail]..." and, " form of transportation shouldn't be pitted [economically evaluated] against another." 

 Miscellaneous Ayer Quotes: 
  • "My biggest challenge is forming a community consensus of what it wants its transportation to be in the future."
  • "We have to give the community options. They have to know what they will be getting for what they pay for." 
  • "I want to "de-mystify" the planning process and make it more accessible to the public."
  • "People are going to have to make some tough decisions. We have limited resources. It is a matter of determining how we are going to divide them." 
  • "We need to strive for efficiency. We owe that to the people because we are using their tax dollars."