Leaders Teamed Up on Parton Deal via Carolina Journal

Leaders Teamed Up on Parton Deal
Leaders Teamed Up on Parton Deal
Top state leaders instrumental in moving project forward, records show

By Don Carrington

January 15, 2008

RALEIGH — State Senate leader Marc Basnight, House Speaker Jim Black, and DOT Transportation Secretary Lyndo Tippett helped state economic developer Rick Watson launch the Randy Parton Theatre in Roanoke Rapids, according to documents obtained by Carolina Journal.

Basnight and Black were instrumental in moving the project forward, while Gov. Mike Easley’s transportation secretary, Tippett, approved special funds for the project.

Watson was the president and CEO of the state-funded Northeast Commission, a regional economic development organization. Records show he began working on a theater concept as early as August 2004.

A Dec. 16, 2004 letter from commission attorney Ernest Pearson to Watson revealed the plan to secure support from key leaders. “Attached is a draft of a letter which can be used to evidence the commitment of senior legislative and executive branch officials to support the Parton entertainment project,” Pearson wrote.

Pearson had used this tactic before. “This is very similar to letters like I have used for previous projects that need some level of support to be shown as to a future legislative action,” he wrote. “I think it goes about as far as we can. They obviously cannot commit to what the 170 members of the legislature will do in the future. To imply otherwise, would likely not be credible to anyone and I do not think any legislative leader would sign it if we implied that they could control a future legislative action. On the other hand, everyone should know that if the officials who are indicated sign this letter, it would be highly likely that the requested assistance would be approved.”

By Rodney

I am happily married to Andrea and we have 2 beautiful children who look like their mother. Reilly and Allison.

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