Local Politics

Moore Criticized for Parton Theatre Financing Deal

Posted December 19, 2007 6:52 p.m. EST
Updated December 19, 2007 7:12 p.m. EST

— A gubernatorial candidate has been drawn into the funding debate over the Randy Parton Theatre in Roanoke Rapids.

Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines, a member of the state commission that approved the $21.5 million public financing deal for the project, sent a letter Tuesday to State Treasurer Richard Moore, criticizing Moore's recent public statements about the theater.

Roanoke Rapids borrowed money to pay for the theater, which was leased to Parton. The theater has lost money since it opened, and city officials recently removed Parton as theater manager because of questionable expenses.

Parton also has been barred from performing at the theater. City officials said he was drinking before a recent concert.

Moore, one of the leading Democratic candidates for governor, responded to questions about the theater's financing by noting the Local Government Commission, which he heads, reviewed the project and found it met the criteria for public funding.

Joines called Moore's position "at best disingenuous," saying Moore didn't provide commission members with a feasibility study that tied the theater's success to other development projects at the planned Carolina Crossroads complex that aren't yet in place.

Moore's campaign fired back that Joines' letter is politically motivated. They said Joines a supporter and donor to Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue, Moore's main rival for the Democratic nomination.

Campaign officials also noted that the Local Government Commission was limited by state law to determining whether Roanoke Rapids could pay for the project and not to decide whether the theater would succeed.

Moore said he would ask lawmakers to reconsider the role of the commission.