Yesterday the Boston Globe reported that the Gaming Commission did not take serious allegations, which were settled in civil court, of sexual abuse against their new executive director into account when hiring. Representative Jim Lyons, a long outspoken critic of expanded gaming, has called for Gaming Commissioner Crosby’s resignation over this oversight.
Lyons sent out the following press release.
State Representative Jim Lyons of Andover is calling for the resignation of state gambling czar Stephen Crosby. “Recent reports,” Lyons said, “cast a disturbing shadow over the hiring practices at the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. Stephen Crosby, the Commission Chairman, made no effort to investigate serious allegations regarding his choice for a six-figure appointment.
“This kind of lax oversight,” Lyons continued, “is completely unacceptable in such a sensitive position.”
Lyons called on Crosby to step down immediately from his $150,000.00 per year government post. Lyons further cautioned against hiring another Beacon Hill insider to the the Gaming Commission. “An appointment of this significance,” Lyons noted, “must be someone who is a completely qualified professional. Additionally, the Chair must not carry any political baggage through longstanding ties to either political party.
“Haven’t we,” Lyons asked, “had enough of political patronage and cronyism in state government?”
News reports indicate that Crosby and the Gaming Commission hired a person against whom serious allegations of sexual assault to a 15-year old child had been lodged in Florida. Ultimately, criminal charges were not brought, but news reports indicate a civil suit in the matter was settled by the person who was later hired by the Gaming Commission.
In addition to downplaying the assault allegations, the Gaming Commission selected someone with well-established connections to the Patrick Administration. This same person had been Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning in the Patrick Administration, prior to becoming interim Executive Director to the Gaming Commission at a salary of $121,000.00 per year.
Lyons emphasized that we must set higher standards in state government hiring. “As the state bureaucracy adds more-and-more six-figure paychecks to the payrolls,” Lyons said, “it is essential that each new highly paid bureaucrat be carefully scrutinized, with the taxpayers interest foremost in mind.
“After all,” Lyons pointed out, “the median household income in Massachusetts is only $64,509. These are the taxpaying families who are footing the bill for all the unwise six-figure patronage paychecks.”
In a recent news report, Crosby was quoted: “We have a mandate to do this in a certain way and do it right. That’s what we’re going to do.” (Mass Live, 2/17/12)
“Unfortunately,” Lyons said, “Chairman Crosby has failed to heed his own advice. His agency is demonstrating both a of lack of oversight and an excess of political patronage that we cannot tolerate at the Gaming Commission. We need a leader who will demand best-practices in hiring, and who is untainted by Beacon Hill deal making. We must demand openness and transparency in state government, rather than accepting the low bar of patronage hiring, or worse.”
On September 14th, 2011 Lyons delivered his maiden speech on the House floor, opposing the bill that created the gambling commission. “We not only opposed the expansion of betting parlors into Massachusetts,” said Lyons, “but we also feared that the state bureaucracy would fail in its duty to the public. We cannot stand idly by as a commission tasked with guarding against gambling malfeasance seems poorly equipped to oversee its own payroll.
“That’s why,” Lyons concluded, “I call upon Stephen Crosby to resign immediately. We should all be thinking twice about the expansion of gambling casinos into Massachusetts. The last thing we need is the expansion of political patronage, as well.”