Under the Dome

Tata’s former adviser swats him

Republican strategist Carter Wrenn was privately advising Tony Tata a few months ago, when the man who then served as our state transportation secretary was thinking about a run for Congress.

Tata no longer works at DOT, and he recently said he won’t be a political candidate in 2016 – “and probably won’t ever.” Wrenn – who publicly floated the idea of a Tata candidacy in June – now is taking shots at the retired Army brigadier general.

In a “Talking About Politics” blog post entitled “Webs,” Wrenn characterizes Tata as a “hapless fly” entangled in the “silken webs” of his own “evasion(s)”. He cites Tata’s response to a Sept. 20 News & Observer story about an Army investigation that linked Tata to at least two adulterous affairs and a forged court order.

Wrenn zeroes in on a statement Tata made to The N&O – regarding something about which Wrenn should have personal knowledge. Explaining his abrupt resignation from DOT in July, Tata said he had been “polling for Congress at the time,” an activity not consistent, he said, with his role as a member of Gov. Pat McCrory’s Cabinet.

“More webs,” Wrenn writes. “General Tata polled last February – months before he resigned.”

Well, perhaps Carter Wrenn doesn’t know everything.

Tata responds that he did indeed conduct polls in mid-January for a possible race against Rep. Walter Jones in the 3rd District – and again in late July for a possible run against Rep. Renee Ellmers in the 2nd District.

“Carter and Marc Rotterman were encouraging me to run against Walter Jones, hence the January poll in which they were involved,” Tata said Friday by email.

But, given his own history in Wake County and at Fort Bragg in Cumberland County, Tata later “determined that representing the people of the 2nd District was a more natural fit, if I was going to enter politics,” he said.

Tata, of Cary, resides in the 2nd District. Wrenn and Rotterman were involved in the January polling, but “a national polling group” handled the July poll, Tata said, which was mentioned on July 30 in the Daily Haymaker, a conservative Carolina blog.

GOP slays more regulations

This is the fifth year that the Republican-controlled General Assembly has written a wide-ranging deregulation bill. As in previous sessions, House Bill 765 is a compilation of ideas that have bounced between the two chambers over the past year or two.

It targets obsolete laws and rewrites regulations affecting the environment, business and local ordinances. It expands the “Good Samaritan” law to protect those who help in lifesaving emergencies, and it sets up an animal welfare hotline in the Attorney General’s Office.

The attention in these bills is usually on conflicts between protecting the environment, which has highly organized advocates, and easing the regulatory burdens on business, which has its own set of advocates and a sympathetic majority in the state legislature.

The 71-page bill, which is on the Monday calendar for the House and Senate, was worked out in a conference committee of members from both chambers.

Dome readers will recognize some version of the highlights from earlier this year and last year:

▪ Self-auditing: Gives companies that pollute some legal protection if they voluntarily disclose violations before inspectors find it, and keeps related internal documents private. This new version allows criminal investigators access to some of those records.

▪ Electronic recycling: Originally, this provision would have repealed the requirement that manufacturers recycle electronics that people discard, potentially increasing costs to local municipalities. Instead, the bill now calls for a study of the economic ramifications before the program is eliminated.

▪ Air quality monitors: Would reduce the number of air quality monitors around the state from 132 to 74 with further reductions planned. The state Department of Environmental Quality says almost half of the 132 are used to track weather and other purposes not related to pollution detection. The agency says it will move 12 pollutant monitors based on scientific data, leaving 86 such monitors in the state.

▪ Intermittent streams: These are streams that dry up in the summer. Some lawmakers say they amount to no more than rain-filled ditches. But environmentalists contend they provide important habitat and pollution control, and that almost half the state’s streams are considered intermittent.

▪ Isolated wetlands: This ongoing effort attempts to limit the number of small wetlands that can be regulate. It originally proposed regulating only those that are one acre or more. The bill now would require they be at least an acre in the coastal region, one-half acre or more in the Piedmont, and up to one-third acre in the mountains.

Staff writers Bruce Siceloff and Craig Jarvis

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