Was Tata’s past the reason for his swift departure?

Anthony TataSunday’s big story in Raleigh’s News & Observer about former state Transportation Secretary Tony Tata and his personal troubles while serving in the military — which included being found to have committed adultery more than once in violation of military law and the discovery of a phony/forged court document filed on his behalf that was never explained  — came to public light less than two months after the former general’s sudden departure from state government.

What was unclear from the story was whether the uncovering of Tata’s troubled past had anything to do with his sudden departure. Usually, when a cabinet-level secretary departs his or her job, there’s more than one day’s notice. As noted here back in July, however:

“Yesterday’s sudden resignation was par for the course with Tata. Rather than announcing a plan for resignation and transition to new leadership of the massive department, he made the event all about himself by simply up and quitting in one day without, apparently, even saying good bye.”
Now, knowing what we know, it seems just as likely that Tata’s sudden resignation was brought about by either his (or the McCrory administration’s) dawning awareness that the story of his past was about to blow. The Governor ought to come completely clean with the public and let us know what was really going on and when.

Who says the Pope-Civitas Institute is always wrong?

Tony Tata 2We’ve devoted a fair amount of space over the years to giving Francis DeLuca, the head of the Pope-Civitas Institute, heck for the many zany positions espouses.  Click here for a typical example from 2013.

That said, one has to admit that DeLuca made several solid points in a post last Friday in which he criticized former state Transportation Secretary Tony Tata. In a post which was entitled “Did Tony Tata Use His Office to Explore Running for Congress?” DeLuca launches several barbs.

In addition to blasting Tata’s swift departure from office as not comporting “with a position at this level nor how a career military person would handle himself,” DeLuca takes Tata to task for, effectively, assembling a campaign team in office and spending $140,000 of NCDOT dollars on a political consultant who would be a likely candidate to help him later in a run for congress.

All in all, it’s a rare departure from script for the hard right DeLuca and a welcome one. Click here to read the entire piece.



The nonsense surrounding Tata and his departure

Tony Tata 2If you’re looking for a powerful testimonial to the sorry state of both the policy and media worlds in modern North Carolina, you need look no further than the ridiculous hubbub surrounding yesterday’s sudden resignation of state Department of Transportation Secretary, Tony Tata.

The story begins with the bizarre fact that Tata was ever in the job in the first place. Not only did he come to it with almost zero experience in the field (and, indeed, hardly any experience of having lived in North Carolina), he was allowed to continue in the job and collect a full salary long after it became obvious that he was a part-time employee who devoted large blocks of his time to churning out schlocky pulp fiction and dispensing right-wing foreign policy bromides on Fox News. It’s also worth noting that this should have come as no surprise given that Tata’s term as Wake County schools superintendent followed the same pattern.

Yesterday’s sudden resignation was par for the course with Tata. Rather than announcing a plan for resignation and transition to new leadership of the massive department, he made the event all about himself by simply up and quitting in one day without, apparently, even saying good bye. Then, in his inimitable, self-promoting media hog style, Tata went on TV with multiple news hosts before the ink was dry on his resignation to talk about his novels and to contradict his statements from just last month that he had no interest in running for Congress. To make even matters even more absurd, speculation (which he hasn’t denied) has it that he’s considering a run against Republican incumbent Walter Jones, Jr. of eastern North Carolina — this despite the fact that Tata (who’s registered as unaffiliated) does not and has not ever lived in Jones’ district.

But what really served as icing on the cake of yesterday’s nonsense was the fawning behavior of the Raleigh media which was more than happy to abet Tata’s self-promotion. First, WRAL’s lead news anchor David Crabtree went to the trouble of conducting a lengthy interview with the guy — when has this ever happened before with a departing state cabinet secretary (even one who accomplished something and was truly dedicated to his or her job)? As an aside, at least Crabtree pushed Tata on the suddenness of his departure — a question Tata never really answered.

Then, this morning, Raleigh’s News & Observer devoted a large, top-of-the fold, front page story (featuring a large, flattering photo) to his resignation as well as a one-page “Focus” section detailing much of his life story!

The bottom line: It’s more than apparent that the reason Tata gets this attention has little to do with his capabilities as a public administrator or policymaker; it is a result of the perception in some circles — a perception that he is all too happy to promote — that he is a celebrity (someone who is “famous” — at least by North Carolina standards —  for being “famous”). And sadly, as Donald Trump is doing such a good job of demonstrating of late, many Americans continue to find this brand of “leadership” irresistible. We have undoubtedly not seen the last of Tata or his shameless self-promotion.


Editorial: Tata needs to focus on his job

Tony Tata 2In case you missed it, this morning’s lead editorial in Raleigh’s News & Observer rightfully tells the state’s $136,000 per year Transportation Secretary, Tony Tata, to start focusing on his job and ditch the Obama bashing on Fox News with Sean Hannity.

Here’s the excellent conclusion:

“Why Hannity is turning to Tata for wisdom on the Middle East is baffling. Tata has no special insight into the region. Beyond that, the public learned all it needed to know about Tata’s judgment of military leadership when he publicly declared that Sarah Palin would be a better commander-in-chief than Barack Obama.

Beyond why Hannity would seek Tata’s opinion is the question of why Tata would choose to give it. For a former general, this seems a basic strategic mistake. More than a quarter of North Carolina’s transportation funding comes from the federal government. A state transportation secretary who makes it a practice to go on TV and blast the president for, among other things, endangering the nation, probably is not improving his state’s chances of receiving discretionary federal funding.

Adie Tomer, an associate fellow at Brookings Institute who studies infrastructure funding, said most federal transportation funding is automatic and beyond politics. But there are grants worth many millions of dollars for which states compete. A good relationship with the current administration can help a state gain a winning edge. North Carolina enjoys an edge with former Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx serving as the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, but that edge may be dulled by Tata’s abrasiveness.

‘It’s a political town,’ Tomer said of Washington, even in agencies that are not directly political. He added that Tata’s criticism of the administration seems contrary to North Carolina’s requests for funding. ‘I just don’t see what there is to gain from it, especially because it’s not his current job,’ Tomer said. ‘Is that looking out for the best interests of North Carolina? It doesn’t sound like it.’

Apparently Tata’s sees his livelihood as being both a secretary of transportation and a retired general. He’s North Carolina’s own Secretary General.”



Where’s Tony today?

Tony Tata 2Don’t despair if you’ve missed out thus far on seeing North Carolina’s Secretary of Fiction/Transportation, A.J. “Crush the Enemy” Tata at one of his numerous appearances to plug his new novel.

It turns out that North Carolina’s $136,000 per year cabinet secretary has been and will be squeezing several more events into his schedule in recent and coming days, including a talk today at the Locke Foundation’s “Shaftsbury Society” luncheon.

Here is is his recent and upcoming book signing schedule from his website

Chicago, IL – Pritzker Military Library – Feb. 24
Quantico, VA – Quantico base exchange – Feb.27
Arlington, VA – Henderson Hall base exchange – Feb. 28
Fayetteville, NC – Airborne and Special Operations Museum – March 7
Fayetteville, NC – Barnes & Noble – March 7
Raleigh, NC – Quail Ridge Books & Music – March 8
Raleigh, NC – John Locke Foundation – March 9
Jacksonville, NC – Camp LeJeune base exchange – March 13
Havelock, NC – Cherry Point base exchange – March 14
Virginia Beach, VA-Barnes & Noble – March 21