Casino panel commish named

WESTFIELD – Stephen Crosby, dean of the University of Massachusetts’ McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, was named chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission this week by Gov. Deval Patrick.
State Rep. Don Humason (R-Westfield) called Crosby an “interesting choice” for the position.
“I was a little surprised,” said Humason. “Patrick could have chosen anyone from anywhere and he chose to keep it close to home.”
Crosby served as secretary of administration and finance for former Gov. A. Paul Cellucci and then chief of staff for acting governor Jane M. Swift.
However, Crosby does not have any gambling experience to bring to the commission.
“None at all,” said Humason. “And there were some questions because in his early days in government, Crosby was opposed to casino gambling in Massachusetts.”
Humason speculated that with the change in economy and the job market in the Commonwealth, Crosby has changed his views with the times.
“We need a commission that is on board with casino gambling,” said Humason.
Humason also feels Crosby is an interesting chairman because of the time commitment.
“‘The other thing raising some eyebrows is it’s a seven-year appointment, but Crosby has only committed to two years,” Humason said, adding that Crosby will take a pay cut as chairman.
As head of the gaming commission, Crosby will set the tone, said Humason.
Now that the legislature approved the commission and it is forming, Humason said he is an observer of the process.
“I am watching with hope and optimism,” he said.
State Sen. Michael Knapik (R-Westfield) said he will also be watching and believes Crosby is “a good selection.”
“He is sufficiently engaged in the workings of government and he is fair and balanced. We need a person of integrity, fairness and objectivity with an understanding of government in that position,” said Knapik.
Humason said he knew Crosby when he worked for Cellucci and Swift and said he is an honest man who will serve Massachusetts well.
“I think everyone agrees he is a man of character, and that’s what we need,” said Humason.
Knapik said the fact that Crosby is not a politician but has first-hand knowledge of politics and the backing of both Democrats and Republicans make him a good choice for commission chairman.
Attorney General Martha M. Coakley and state Treasurer Steve Grossman will each appoint one member  to the commission. Patrick, Grossman and Coakley will together select the final two members with the help of a search firm.
“We thought the commission would be named early in 2012, but it could be announced sooner,” said Humason.
Knapik said he believes having a chairman without a gambling background is a good idea.  However, he said he hopes at least one or two of the remaining commissioners has that experience.
Knapik said the commission has many decisions ahead, and the toughest will be location.
“The site decisions will be the most difficult,” Knapik said. “That will be political from the point of view that there will be winners and losers and people will come out for and against. That’s where having a chairman who understands politics will be a benefit.”

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