Casino czar smart choice by Marjorie Arons-Barron

The entry below is being cross posted from Marjorie Arons-Barron’s own blog.

Naming Steve Crosby to chair the state’s newly created gambling commission is a very smart decision by Governor Patrick. If casinos are finally to be built in Massachusetts, at least there will be someone of integrity to oversee their licensing and operation. Crosby is well suited to carry out the goals of fairness and transparency. As he put it, his mission is to make sure that there are more of the good things to happen from casinos (jobs, for example) than there are the bad things.

In Pennsylvania, those bad things included “cronyism, patronage, back-room deals, overlooked criminal histories, and alleged mob ties in the industry,” according to the Boston Globe. If he keeps those problems at bay, then one might also hope for a minimum of the other bad things that happen around casinos, like prostitution, check kiting, addiction, though there’s no guarantee. I’m concerned about the tendency for states to backslide on carefully drawn gambling rules when they need more cash.

Crosby’s background includes a little bit of everything (including newspaper work, for The Real Paper, and developing the Smart Routes traffic monitoring company). He has thrived in the political arena, under both Republican and Democratic administrations. He campaigned for Boston Mayor Kevin White, a Democrat, in the 70’s, was chief of staff and budget director under Republican Governors Paul Cellucci and Jane Swift, and served as co-chair of Deval Patrick’s transition team on budget and finance.

It’s no wonder that political /public life is his passion. Crosby’s parents were dyed-in-the-wool liberal Democrats. His mother, Jean, ran late Congressman Bob Drinan’s (Barney Frank’s predecessor) district office. His father, Harry, a WWII fighter plane navigator, was an anti-Vietnam War activist and a progressive member of the Newton Board of Aldermen.

Recently Steve Crosby has been Dean of the McCormack School of Policy and Global Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston. One of his roles has been helping Chancellor Keith Motley in the development of a long-term strategic plan. That capacity for seeing the big picture and proceeding analytically and systematically should help him develop a solid grounding for the state’s approach to casino regulation.

My only concern is that he has promised the Governor just two years of the seven-year term to which he has been appointed. It’s hard to believe it will be long enough to get casino gambling established and running according to the rules that will be promulgated.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Globe photo by Patrick Whittemore