Under the Dome

Dome: Former Durham mayor takes a top job at NCDOT

Staff writersMarch 18, 2013 

Nick Tennyson, who was Durham’s mayor for four years until 2001, will start work next month as one of two chief deputy secretaries at the state Department of Transportation.

As Transportation Secretary Tony Tata’s chief deputy for support, Tennyson will take charge of developing a new statewide 25-year infrastructure plan, which was one of Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign priorities for DOT. He’ll step down from a job he has held for 18 years as executive vice president of the Homebuilders Association of Durham, Orange and Chatham counties.

“This is an opportunity to have a real impact on the future of North Carolina,” Tennyson said. “This is really a continuation of work that I got started on when I was mayor, to try to get people to think about the near future. Twenty-five years seems like a long time to a lot of people, … but we need to think how quickly 25 years will arrive.”

Tennyson, 63, a Republican, will start work April 1 at a salary of $123,000. His new position puts him on equal footing with DOT’s chief deputy secretary for operations, Jim Trogdon. He’ll oversee the Division of Motor Vehicles, finance, intergovernmental affairs, strategic planning and information technology.

It’s a new position at DOT. Tennyson will oversee administrators who previously answered to Trogdon, to Tata, or to the deputy secretary for administration, a position that has been eliminated. Trogdon remains in charge of operations including construction, highways, engineering, transit, rail and ferry service.

Tennyson, like Tata and Trogdon, is a military man. He is a retired Navy captain.

Watt headed to Fannie/Freddie?

U.S. Rep. Mel Watt of Charlotte is being considered to head the mortgage-finance firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, The Wall Street Journal is reporting, quoting unnamed sources.

The paper says the White House has not made a final decision, but could name a new director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees the companies in April.

Watt, a Yale-educated attorney, is a member of the House Financial Services Committee. He has represented the Charlotte area for 20 years and before that served in the state Senate.

He has been advocate for better access to mortgage loans for minority and low-income consumers.

President Barack Obama has been under some pressure to name more African-Americans to his administration. The Congressional Black Caucus this month sent a letter to the White House noting that the Obama administration has yet to name an African-American to a top post for his second term, the paper reported.

State economy improving

When Gov. Pat McCrory rolls out his budget this week, he will be in a much better situation thanks to a slowly improving economy.

Tax revenues increased $626.2 million or 5.5 percent for the fiscal year 2013 through the end of February, according to figures released Monday by the State Controller’s office.

Non-tax revenues increased by $5.8 million or 0.8 percent as compared to the previous year. The General Fund’s unreserved fund balance as of February 2013 was $429.2 million as compared to $72.1 million a year earlier.

Staff writers Bruce Siceloff and Rob Christensen

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