Insights and Observations
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
By Henry Hinton
Final gauntlet begins for
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guest between 7:30- 8:00 a.m. will be Hollywood
actress and ECU alum Beth Grant:
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Carolina General Assembly convenes for the 2007 session in Raleigh today.
You know the old saying: “Hold onto your wallet!” Or in the case of East
Carolina University, let the lobbying and second-guessing begin.
for the new ECU School of Dentistry is here. Chancellor Steve Ballard and
Dr. Michael Lewis have now turned over their request for funding for this,
their top priority, to the legislators who now have to debate its merits.
the lobbying efforts is Dr. Greg Chadwick, former president of the American
Dental Association, who has been hired as a consultant to the university.
Many other Greenville dentists and business people, including Dr. Jaspar
Lewis, have aided the efforts in Raleigh.
surface, it seems the group has successfully made the case for the new
dental school. Statistics show that better access to dental care is a huge
need for the whole state, particularly east of Raleigh.
week, most political pundits in Raleigh were using terms such as “done deal”
when speaking of the new ECU school. As is oftentimes the case in politics,
all of that is subject to change.
Word is that
Governor Mike Easley has newfound concerns about the price tag attached to
the dental school along with the additional requested funding from the
dentistry school at UNC-Chapel Hill. As such, it may not be in the first
draft of his budget which will be sent to the House of Representatives in
the next few weeks.
funding request for ECU is attached to a request for expansion and
additional funding in Chapel Hill. No surprise and good strategy for ECU.
Additionally, if all goes according to script, a new Speaker of the House
will be elected today in the first order of business after the opening
ceremony. It will be somewhat anti-climactic since the Democratic Party
caucus has already chosen Chapel Hill lawyer Joe Hackney as its choice to
lead the House. Hackney should easily slide through to replace the embattled
Jim Black in that role for the next two years.
Hackney will, no doubt, play a key role in the dental debate. Black had
repeatedly spoken in favor of the ECU initiative, and some of the eastern
legislators, including Pitt County’s Marian McLawhorn and Edith Warren,
along with Arthur Williams of Washington have had the former speaker’s ear
on this all along.
McLawhorn and others who have been powerful inside the House chamber will
have to wait for their committee assignments from Hackney before they know
the level of their pull with their fellow legislators.
On the other
side of the building, expect President Pro Tempore Marc Basnight to continue
to be a strong advocate of the dental school proposal in the Senate. He has
repeatedly stated his support, including in his commencement speech last
year at ECU.
long supported university initiatives in Chapel Hill and he was instrumental
in the funding of the heart center in Greenville two years ago, although it
took an extra year to get it through the entire General Assembly.
long connections to UNC-Chapel Hill and his Chapel Hill address should mean
good things for this initiative. Once again, connecting the fortunes of the
ECU school with the added funding for the existing school in Chapel Hill was
a good strategy by Ballard.
John Hood of Raleigh’s John Locke Foundation, one of the state’s top
political watchdog groups said this week, “Hackney and Basnight are very
different politicians and have very different styles but one thing they
share and one thing you can look for is for The University of North Carolina
to get whatever it wants.”
does indeed leave the dental school out of his budget as has been rumored in
Raleigh this week, it will be a curious twist for a governor from the
eastern part of the state who has long claimed to understand the economic
plight of those living east of I-95.
the end of the day, or in this case the end of the legislative session, the
Governor does not have a vote. It is the legislators who take their oath in
Raleigh today who will ultimately have to decide.
represented at the Oscars
second time, former ECU student Beth Grant is one of the stars of a movie
which has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. Grant has a
large role in Little Miss Sunshine, one of five films announced
yesterday as nominees for the highest Oscar a picture can receive.
filmography also includes and appearance with Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman
in Rain Man, which won the 1988 Best Picture Oscar.
One of the
busiest actors in Hollywood, Grant appears regularly in feature films and
television shows. In recent months, she has appeared in the CBS programs
Jericho and CSI. She also had a comedic role in NBC’s My Name
worked with the biggest names in the business in movies such as A Time to
Kill, Speed, Matchstick Men, Flags of our Fathers
and Sordid Lives, just to name a few.
got her acting start at East Carolina University and credits former
university theater director Edgar Loesinne for helping her get her
successful career started.
A few years
ago, Grant did a local premier of The Rookie, a baseball movie in
which she starred with Dennis Quaid. The premier was held in Greenville as a
fundraiser for Coach Keith LeClair’s family fund.
her home in California on Tuesday after the announcement, Grant says she is
looking forward to the ECU baseball team’s upcoming series at UCLA, where
she will attend at least one of the games with her avid Pirate fan brother
Bubba Grant, who resides in Raleigh.
On Feb. 25,
the ECU Pirates will be well represented as Beth Grant’s movie Little
Miss Sunshine has a shot at the big Oscar prize.
will appear on Talk 1070’s Talk of the Town program this morning between
7:30-8:00 am. You can listen live on the radio or via the
WNCT-AM 1070 Live
Stream Page. The Windows Media archive of the show will also
be available on the
Talk 1070 Archives Page.
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This page updated
04/21/08 07:06 PM.