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Bill Clinton is coming back.
The former president will stump for his wife's presidential campaign in North Carolina on Friday, holding "Solutions for America" events in Roanoke Rapids and Rocky Mount.
The latter event will be at 9 p.m. at N.C. Wesleyan College.
On Saturday, he'll travel to Greenville, Wilson, Goldsboro, Kinston, New Bern and Jacksonville.
The Wilson event will be at 11:30 a.m. at Barton College.
Further details on the trip are not yet available.
All events are free and open to the public.
Sometimes the jokes write themselves.
"We feel that this is a great opportunity for the community, the theatre, and for us to connect with our wonderful viewers in the Roanoke Rapids area," said WNCT-TV Vice President Vickie Jones in a statement.
Dome immediately thought: Big Brother? Wasn't Randy Parton better known for his Big Sister?
A colleague suggested that it's ironic that a government-owned theater that has tried so hard to avoid public scrutiny is now hosting a reality show in which participants are filmed 24 hours a day.
Maybe they can loan a few cameras to the Roanoke Rapids City Council.
Check your caller ID for a phone call from Rick Watson.
At Randy Parton's press conference Friday, Watson, the former head of the Northeast Partnership who brought Parton to North Carolina in the first place, spoke in your stead, Jonathan Cox reports.
"I'd just like to, on behalf of over 8 million people in the state of North Carolina and the leadership in the state of North Carolina and also the city of Roanoke Rapids, I'd like to apologize ... to Randy Parton for coming here and lending himself and his family and his name to create an entirely new industry in the state of North Carolina and to be treated the way he's been treated," Watson said.
Watson doesn’t work for the state. In fact, his employment was terminated with the partnership in 2006 after the State Auditor deemed he had a conflict of interest. He continued to lead the state-funded economic development group after he signed on to work for Parton’s company, Moonlight Bandit.
Pressed at the news conference, Watson said he had a right to apologize because he was born and raised in North Carolina.
Dome called Gov. Mike Easley's press office to see if he shared Watson's view. After all, Watson said he was speaking on behalf of the leadership.
"I'm not going to ask the governor to respond to something that dumb," said Seth Effron, his spokesman.
Randy Parton will speak out Friday.
The country singer, who has recently been the focus of a bitter fight over a theater project in Roanoke Rapids, will hold a press conference at the Umstead Hotel in Cary.
Additional Parton family members will attend, according to a news release. It did not specify which Partons, but Dome presumes it's not his sister, Dolly.
"This will provide Mr. Parton an opportunity to set the record straight and to tell his side of the story," said political consultant Brad Crone, who is representing Parton. "Mr. Parton is looking forward to explaining his work and letting the people of Roanoke Rapids and the state of North Carolina know the inside story on the project."
A form of financing in which a municipality borrows money for a project with the expectation that it will pay back the debt using increased tax revenue generated by the new project.
The often-stated goal of TIFs, as they are sometimes called, is to jump-start development in a blighted area. In theory, TIFs are a mutually beneficial arrangement between a private developer and a municipality. The developer gets the municipality to pay for public improvements to a site. The municipality benefits, because sucessful development means more property or sales tax revenue.
In a simplified example, a private developer wants to build a shopping center in a depressed area. The developer tells town officials that he can afford to build his project if the city is willing to build sidewalks and extend water and sewer connections to the property. The developer proposes a TIF.
In this arrangement, the town issues bonds—or simply put—borrows money, to build the sidewalks and sewer lines. Before the first shovel hits the ground, the town determines how much property tax revenue the parcel generates—a number based on the assessed value of the property. That amount of tax revenue is frozen—it is all the revenue town will collect from the property for some time.
The developer builds the shopping center. Customers shop, dine and visit and the value of the land naturally increases. Because the land is now worth more money, the assessed value increases, which means its owner must pay higher property taxes.
But all the town gets is the amount of tax revenue it collected before the project started. The additional money, or the "increment" will be used to repay the debt the city took on to build sidewalks and sewer lines. In time, the debt is repaid and the town can start collecting the full amount of property tax on its new, bustling shopping center.
TIFs have had a controversial start in North Carolina. In 2004, voters approved a constitutional amendment that allowed the deals. They were controversial and divisive even before they were allowed.
In 2007, developer John Kane proposed using one to build retail and office space at the bustling North Hills in Raleigh. The proposal was denied after it met opposition with members of the Raleigh City Council.
Then there is Roanoke Rapids. The city used a TIF to build a theater for Randy Parton, brother of country superstar Dolly Parton. The theater was supposed to be the centerpiece of an entertainment and tourist complex, but in its first few months, the project was riddled with problems.
Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue has been accusing state Treasurer Richard Moore of withholding a feasibility study that questioned the financial chances of Roanoke Rapids' plans to open a theater featuring Randy Parton.
Dome wanted to share its copy of the study, which was received from the treasurer's office.
Perdue continues to question why members of the Local Government Commission, which authorizes public borrowing, were not briefed on the contents of the study before they voted on Roanoke Rapids' plans.
The study can be seen here.
Update: A Perdue spokesman said that Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines, who is a commission member and Perdue supporter, still has not received his copy of the feasibility study.
Sara Lang, Moore's communications director, said that Joines can come view whatever documents he wants.
"There's two boxes of stuff. He's welcome to come look at it," Lang said.
Previously: Perdue's attacks on Moore's role are overstated.
Who says the forum format won't allow the candidates to spar?
During a question about illegal immigration, Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue gave a quick answer about federal law change and then said that state Treasurer Richard Moore should release whatever information he has about his office's involvement with the Randy Parton deal in Roanoke Rapids.
She asked Moore to release a feasibility study that said the city's plans to build a theater wouldn't succeed without other amenities.
"A lot of us have been watching what's been going on with Randy Parton's party palace and that's been problematic," she said. "We'd like to know the background on it. We'd like to know why the decisions were made. And I'd like to ask the treasurer publicly—because a lot of us have asked the treasurer—to soon release the feasibility study."
In response, Moore said that the state asked cities and counties to be more creative in their investments. He said that it was "typical of someone who led the go-along get-along club" in Raleigh to go after a project in one of the poorest places in the state.
"They've tried something new," he said. "They're six months into it. Y'all the Research Triangle Park took 30 years to be successful. The New Bern convention center. The Raleigh convention center. All these things take time."
He then said that his office released the documents and said if Perdue would participate in more debates, which she has so far been reluctant to do, they could have a long talk about Roanoke Rapids.
For the record, Dome has a copy of the study that it obtained through a request to Moore's office.
State Auditor Les Merritt has nominated the head of the state Libertarian Party to help the Local Government Commission decide its role in approving special financing deals like the one used for a theater in Roanoke Rapids.
Her qualifications? She's not a Democrat or Republican and she's against such financing deals, Merritt said in a news release announcing that he picked Barbara Howe to serve on the committee.
"Barbara Howe will provide the independent voice that this task force needs," Merritt said.
This week, the commission, which approves all public debt in the state, discussed creating a task force to examine its role in approving so-called tax increment financing arrangements. In such deals, the money generated by a sucessful project is used to pay back the money borrowed to get the project started.
That's how Roanoke Rapids proposed to pay back $21.5 million it borrowed to build a theater and entertainment district that would feature Randy Parton. The city has since parted ways with Parton and has struggle to sell tickets.
More after the jump.
There’s being prepared, and then there’s flouting the state's open meetings laws.
Just prior to a Roanoke Rapids City Council meeting this week, City Manager Phyllis Lee expressed surprise at the arrival of two out-of-town newspaper reporters, reports Matt Ehlers.
In a friendly way, she inquired: “Why are you here?”
When told that council was expected to remove Randy Parton’s name from the theater the city built for him, Lee responded: “It’s not on the agenda.”
An hour later, the council rechristened The Randy Parton Theatre as The Roanoke Rapids Theatre. Immediately after the meeting, theater officials handed out a press release crafted by French West Vaughan, a Raleigh public-relations firm.
It included this quote from Lee: “The people of Roanoke Rapids built this theatre. It’s time to put our good name on it.”
And to think — a name change wasn’t even on the agenda.