McCrory taps Tata as DOT secretary; makes other cabinet appointments

Pat McCrory

RALEIGH—On Thursday, Governor-Elect Pat McCrory named former Wake County Schools Superintendent Tony Tata as the next Secretary of Transportation.

The Wake School Board fired retired Brig. Gen. Tata as superintendent in September 2012.

“I’m pleased to officially announce today the appointment of General Tony Tata to serve as Secretary of the Department of Transportation,” said McCrory. “Throughout his career in the US Army, Tony Tata has planned and implemented multiple operations involving complex transportation and infrastructure challenges, ranging from planning operations involving ports, airfields, rail, and highways, to designing and implementing extensive infrastructure plans in developing countries.”
Tata gave a prepared statement, saying:

Among the many first steps, we will quickly develop a bipartisan commission to design the 25-year vision, that among other things, will help us focus resources on the most important projects.
“This is a bold appointment. It came as a surprise. His name was not being mentioned as a potential secretary,” said William Peace University political science professor David McLennan.
Critics question Tata’s appointment, particularly after his struggles and termination from the Wake County Public School System. At the time, board members criticized his dictator-like leadership style, and failures in the school’s transportation system.
“He had trouble negotiating the politics at a local school board. Now he’s in charge of a place with even more politics, of huge funders wanting specific projects. It may be the largest, most political department in state government,” said Founder and Executive Director of NC Policy Watch Chris Fitzsimon.
“He has to overcome his past, his most immediate past with the Wake County School situation. Leaving the way he did, being terminated, is not good for anyone, so he’s coming into a position in some ways having failed at the previous position,” said McLennan.

He also has not returned a request for an interview.

McCrory also appointed Sharon Decker as commerce secretary, former state representative Bill Daughtridge as administration secretary and Neal Alexander to lead the state personnel office.

McCrory and his cabinet will be officially sworn in on Saturday. Ceremonial inauguration activities will take place on Saturday, Jan. 12 in Raleigh.

Stay with News 14 Carolina and news14.com for more on this story.

Capital Tonight: Jan 3 Swearing in of new NC house members, 113th Congress

On Capital Tonight: The newest members of the North Carolina House of Representatives and the U.S. 113th Congress were sworn-in Thursday in Washington. The House members discuss the issues they face; both past, present, and ahead.

View the episode here.

New Congress sworn-in with old work to continue

WASHINGTON—A new Congress has been sworn in, but some old issues remain on the table.

The 112th Congress used their final hours to pass some big legislation; a bill to stop the country from falling off the fiscal cliff. However now the 113th Congress is in place and lawmakers say there is still a lot of work to be done on the budget including cuts, and the debt ceiling debate.

“They just kicked the can down the road. We have a huge fiscal crisis in this country, that makes the fiscal cliff like a joke,” said Rep. Richard Hudson, a Republican from the Eighth District.

Lawmakers are quick to point out that the budget issues are not the only item that will need to be addressed by Congress. North Carolina lawmakers are divided over whether or not Congress needs to take up gun issues following the tragedy last month in Connecticut.

The President has said gun issues need to be addressed. Yet some lawmakers say this is not just about guns.

“I don’t see the Connecticut tragedy, and it was and is a tragedy, I don’t see that it is a firearms issue; except for this issue—how the mentally handicapped or disabled gain access to firearms,” said Rep. Paul Coble, a Republican from the Sixth District.

As states struggle with how to handle immigration issues, it is also an issue that Congress is looking to address. Some lawmakers say it is an important debate to have, but solutions have not been easy to find.

“Well I have been very consistent the eight years that I have been here. I have said that we need immigration reform, but we first have to secure the borders. We can’t do anything until we secure the borders. That is a No. 1 concern. My first year here we appropriated the money to build a fence and to do more there. Unfortunately we have not had the cooperation from the Executive branch to do what needs to be done. But first we have to secure the borders, then we will be able to deal with the other issues related to immigration. We are a nation of immigrants, we want immigrants to come here, we want them to come legally,” said Virginia Foxx, a Republican from the 5th District.

Lawmakers say there will not be much of a break for the new Congress, as work needs to begin right away.

Capital Tonight Jan. 3: Young Voters segment

Sam Spencer with the Young Democrats of North Carolina and Tyler Cralle of the Young Professional Republicans of North Carolina join anchor Tim Boyum to discuss the 113th Congress, sworn in Thursday.

New NC congressional delegation has solid Republican majority

WASHINGTON – This year marked clear change in North Carolina’s representation in Congress.

North Carolina has been a state divided in Washington for the past several years, one Republican, one Democrat serving the state in the Senate, and almost an even split of Democrats and Republicans serving us in the House.

That is no longer the case.

The 113th Congress was called to order Thursday and oaths of office were administered. It was a new day for a new Congress that has a very similar makeup to the Congress that just adjourned.

But North Carolina bucked that trend.

We’ve had Republican majorities in the past, but this is the first time that we have seen such a dramatic shift from a Democratic majority to a strong Republican majority, and it went against the national trend,” said William Peace University Political Science Professor David McLennan.

North Carolina’s congressional delegation had been pretty equal as far as Republican and Democratic representation: Seven Democrats and six Republicans.

But after redistricting in 2010, and a strong conservative movement over the past few years, the split is now nine Republicans and only four Democrats.

“It means that our congressional delegation will have a tilt that goes against the overall politics of the state,” said U.S. Rep. David Price.

But for the new members, all Republicans, they said they are excited to get started on the promises they made during the campaign season.

“It is a steep learning curve,” said U.S. Rep. George Holding. “I have been trying to jump in with both feet and talk to a number of senior members here who have been around for a long time and seek out their advice.”

For those senior members, on the Republican side, they said with nine republicans now sitting in the House for North Carolina, they are hopeful for a united conservative vote.

“With these four new Republicans, it does change a lot of our ability to work together and achieve results here in Washington for the state of North Carolina,” said U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry. 

"In light of redistricting, two Democratic representatives chose not to run for reelection – Heath Schuler and Brad Miller. Larry Kissell ran and lost his seat.

All three seats are now held by Republicans.

Freshman congressmen from Charlotte region sworn in, ready to work

WASHINGTON – Thursday marked a changing of the guard for the Charlotte regions members in the U.S. House of Representatives.

For the first time in 50 years, North Carolina’s 8th and 9th districts had incoming freshmen members who were sworn in at the same time. While their districts have very different makeups, Republicans Richard Hudson and Robert Pittenger promised a similar vision in how they represent the greater Charlotte region.

“We’re here to get something done,” Hudson said. “We didn’t run for Congress just to get into office.”

In the 8th District, Hudson is replacing Democrat Larry Kissell, who he defeated in November. In the 9th District, Pittenger is replacing Republican Sue Myrick, who retired after serving eight terms.

Both men campaigned on a strict agenda of cutting government and reining in federal costs. They now must perform the balancing act of keeping their promise to stick to conservative principles while also making sure resources are secured in their neighboring Charlotte-area districts.

“The main issues now are spending and jobs and so I’m going to do everything I can to get the federal government out of the way of our job creators so we can put people back to work,” Hudson said.

Pittenger, a former North Carolina state senator, promised to follow through with his campaign pledge and focus on improving federal road projects and infrastructure in the Charlotte region.

“You have people standing in parking lots trying to make their way on [Interstate] 77, 85, Independence or whatever that road may be. If provisions are made in our budgeting, we can allocate funding for roads, I certainly will be an advocate for that,” he said.

Both men will be assigned to committees that suit their strengths and the district. Pittenger, a Charlotte resident, will serve on the House Committee on Financial Services. Hudson will represent the much more rural 8th District on the Agriculture Committee.

NC members of House sworn in on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON — Thursday was the big day for North Carolina’s 13 members of the House of Representatives. They are now officially sworn-in.

The delegation of seven Republicans and six Democrats includes four new members. Members of the new Congress took at oath of office at noon on Thursday. The ceremony comes one day after the 112th Congress took a significant vote to save the country from going over the fiscal cliff.

However there is still more work to be done on the financial spectrum. The new Congress must begin talks on how to handle the debt ceiling in the coming weeks.

“I know you are feeling a bit awestruck at this moment. History runs through this building. Now you are among a select few to share in this privilege. For those of you who are returning, who have walked these aisles before, maybe it is time we get a little awestruck again,” said Rep. John Boehner.

North Carolina’s delegation has a different look after the swearing-in. Before, there was a 7-6 split with a Democratic majority. Now there are nine Republicans and four Democrats.

113th Congress: Patrick McHenry, 10th District

WASHINGTON — News 14 Carolina’s Senior Political Reporter Loretta Boniti talks with Patrick McHenry, the representative from the 10th District, as the 113th Congress is sworn into office.

113th Congress: Howard Coble, 6th District

WASHINGTON — News 14 Carolina’s Senior Political Reporter Loretta Boniti talks with Howard Coble, the 6th District representative, as the 113th Congress is sworn into office.

113th Congress: George Holding, 13th District

WASHINGTON — News 14 Carolina’s Senior Political Reporter Loretta Boniti talks with the newly-elected representative from the 13th District, George Holding, as the 113th Congress is sworn into office.