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Tennessee lottery board meets for second time

Jul 28, 2003, 3:33 am

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Tennessee LotteryTennessee Lottery: Tennessee lottery board meets for second time

Tennessees new lottery board will meet today for the second time following a rocky start last week.

Gov. Phil Bredesen appointed law firm Bass Berry & Sims as legal counsel for the board last Monday. And one day later, amid criticism, dismissed the firm due to its close ties to the administration.

Bass Berry will be back today to help get things started. The board is expected to take up the issue of naming a new firm.

Lottery leader Sen. Steve Cohen (D) of Memphis has taken issue with last weeks board kickoff.

Cohen said the first order of business should have been the appointment of a CEO to run the corporation. Additionally, he said the boards move to name an executive search firm was unnecessary.

Cohen and Rep. Chris Newton (R-Benton), who sponsored lottery legislation in the House, both have said for quite some time that a number of qualified individuals have expressed interest in the position.

Cohen maintains that the CEO position is the most important decision a state lottery such as Tennessees can make and should be the first step taken. A credit line, such as the $15 million issued the state last week, should have followed the boards appointment of a CEO, Cohen said.

Additionally, Cohen said Bass Berry shouldnt continue to work for or bill the state during the interim. The attorney general could stand in, says Cohen.

Attorney General Paul Summers said the outside counsel is necessary due to the scope of the corporation.

Were talking about when the Legislature passed the lottery corporation basically creating something Ive called like a fourth branch of government, said Summers last week. & Youre talking about starting from ground zero to within the next months a fortune 500 billion-dollar company.

In town will be Georgia Lottery Corporation President and CEO Rebecca Paul. Paul, widely regarded as a lottery expert, due in part to the very successful Georgia lottery, is expected to bring possibilities of a partnership to the table.

Paul has been in contact with the administration and will, today, speak to the board regarding a potential relationship between the two games. Officials say Tennessees lottery will remain autonomous. Paul apparently has some ideas on how to pool resources to leverage buying power and reduce overhead.

Paul reportedly approached South Carolina during its lottery implementation process, though unsuccessfully.

Although Georgia borders parts of Southeastern Tennessee and undoubtedly stands to lose some lottery sales there, Newton and Cohen say Paul will likely bring a great deal to the table. After all, the Tennessee lottery is basically a spin-off of the Georgia model.

Specifics arent yet known, however, and Bredesen says Paul is just one option that may allow the state to think outside of the box.

The City Paper

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