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Pat McCrory 'butchered' his new transportation secretary's name

Gov.-elect Pat McCrory nominated Tony Tata as his transportation secretary Thursday but didn't know how to say his name.

At the press conference, McCrory repeatedly pronounced it "TATT-ah" with a short-A syllable. Tata didn't flinch and didn't mention the mistake when he took the podium.

But afterward, when McCrory heard a reporter address Tata (pronounced TAY-tuh), he realized what he did. “I probably butchered your name; I apologize,” McCrory told Tata.

Tata smiled and shrugged it off. “Sometimes it’s hard to get that long-A,” he said.

--Staff writerBruce Siceloff

McCrory to 'Rock the Ball' ahead of inauguration

The night before the Inaugural ball, Pat McCrory' will attend a concert aimed at the younger crowd. Hosted by the Junior League, the Rock the Ball concert at Lincoln Theater in Raleigh will feature bands American Aquarium, the Balsa Gliders and Big Daddy Love.

McCrory's nieces and nephews will serve as honorary hosts and introduce their uncle. The relatives participating: Mary Mac & Camp Jenkins of Chapel Hill, Katie & Greg Fader of Greenville,Patrick Sebastian of Raleigh, Chris McCrory of Charlotte, Katy & Matt Harvey of Charlotte, Molly McCrory of Charlotte, Wilson McCrory of Charlotte, Tripp & Stacie Winslow of Winston-Salem, Mac Winslow & Blythe Clifford of Raleigh and Will Bentley of Los Angeles.

Gov. Bev Perdue's sons attended the event four years ago but unlike McCrory she didn't attend.

McCrory to name more cabinet officials

Pat McCrory is expected to announce his final three cabinet picks Thursday, completing his administration two days before he takes office. The picks left: Commerce, Transportation and Administration.

The agency leaders likely will play a key role with three of McCrory's top goals: reviving the economy, establishing a new transportation infrastructure plan and restructuring state government. The Republican governor elect will hold a news conference at 11 a.m.

Morning Roundup: Little known law benefits UNC Health Care

A little-known law, the Set Off Debt Collection Act, allows state and local agencies to collect debts by seizing state tax returns and lottery winnings. The law has been good to UNC Health Care. Last year, UNC Hospitals collected $5.7 million, while UNC Physicians and Associates collected $2 million. Read more here.

More political headlines:

--Departing from this uber-optimism from the campaign trail, Pat McCrory gave a sobering assessment of the economy and the challenges ahead.

Pat McCrory plays stand up comic, mocks his new city

Pat McCrory, don't quit your new day job. The governor-elect started his speech at the Economic Forecast Forum on Wednesday playing the part of stand up comedian but bumbled the jokes. (Listen to the audio below.)

He walked to the podium with a list hitting at the Capital City -- fitting with Charlotte residents thinking that their city is really the center of the state's universe, if not the entire Eastern Seaboard.

The setup: Since being elected, McCrory said he's "learning the Raleigh ways." ("Because I'm an outsider," he explained, trying to perpetuate his campaign mantra.)

His first Raleigh joke: "The definition of an elevator in a state government building really means take the stairs," he said to mixed laughter.

Chamber concerned with extension of unemployment benefits in fiscal cliff deal

The fiscal cliff deal in Washington creates "more urgency" to revamp the state's unemployment benefit system, said Lew Ebert, the president of the N.C. Chamber of Commerce.

The legislation extended unemployment benefits through 2013 at the same time Republican lawmakers in North Carolina are trying to curtail the checks to jobless workers. Ebert said businesses that pay unemployment taxes can't afford another extenstion.

"It's the most immediate challenge to job creation," Ebert said at the chamber's economic forecast forum Wednesday. He stopped short of calling on Gov.-elect Pat McCrory to reject possible additional federal loans for benefits, as other governors have done in the past.

Morning Roundup: N.C. congressional delegation splits on fiscal cliff vote

North Carolina's congressional delegation split along unusual lines when it came to the fiscal cliff legislation. U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Kay Hagan voted to approve. In the House, five Democrats and one Republican voted in favor and two Democrats and five Republicans voted against. See the breakdown here and more on the vote here.

More political headlines below.

Pat McCrory's closest transition advisors include big GOP donors, politicos

Pat McCrory's transition office released a list of top advisors consulting for the governor-elect as part of his working groups -- a list filled with prominent GOP donors and politicos.

Among the names: Bill Cobey, the former GOP chairman, is consulting on administrative matters; Fred Smith, a former state senator and developer, is consulting on environmental issues; and Les Merritt, a member of the state ethics board and former state auditor, is consulting on tax reform. (See full list below.)

The names are likely to reflect many that will work in McCrory's administration but don't represent all offering advice to the incoming Republican governor, the transition office acknowledged. Others are giving informal suggestions in conference calls and meetings but are not listed.

One glaring omission is the lack of leaders on two major topics McCrory promised to accomplish in the campaign: education and government transformation. A McCrory aide said the groups will commence after the Jobs and Economy team finishes their work, given their relation to each other.

Morning Roundup: McCrory opts for earlier, private swearing-in ceremony

The first Republican governor in 20 years will take the oath of office in a largely private ceremony Jan. 5, raising questions about the tone Pat McCrory is setting at the start of his administration.

The traditional inauguration and festivities, timed to coincide with the Junior League of Raleigh’s inaugural ball, are scheduled a week later. But McCrory is opting to break tradition by moving forward his official swearing-in ceremony and relocating it to the old House chamber at the state Capitol. Read full story here.

More political headlines:

--AP's retrospective on Gov. Bev Perdue: "Outgoing Gov. Beverly Perdue said Thursday she doesn't regret declining to seek re-election and pushing for higher taxes to close budget gaps and restore education funding. She argued she's leaving the state in a better position compared to four years ago and didn't worry about political consequences."

--North Carolina’s film industry hit record-breaking numbers the past two years, but that’s unlikely to repeat in 2013, the director of the N.C. Film Office says.

McCrory camp releases inauguration parade details

Pat McCrory's transition team released more details about the Jan. 12 inauguration Thursday, revealing a partial map of the parade route. (See map here.)

The parade will start down at Fayetteville Street and Davie near the Marriott and travel north until Hargett Street where it will make a jog to the right and then continue north travel on Wilmington Street by the Capitol and ends on Lane Street just past the legislative building. The governor-elect may walk part of the parade route before watching it from a viewing stand on the east side of the Capitol.

Any reporters who want to access the Capitol groups to cover the 11 a.m. ceremony and speech are required to submit a request for credentials online and the map designates a "media pen and risers." The parade starts at 12:30 p.m.

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