The names of some top lottery officials who will pick the winner of Tennessee's multimillion-dollar lottery contract will remain secret until Oct. 27 to protect them from outside influence, Tennessee lottery CEO Rebecca Paul said yesterday.
Oct. 27 is the date that bids are due at the Tennessee Education Lottery Corp., created earlier this year by the legislature to run the enterprise and provide college scholarships.
Yesterday, Paul announced the hiring of Wanda Young Wilson as executive vice president/general counsel. At a salary of $180,000 plus incentives as yet unspecified, Wilson becomes the highest-paid staff member hired so far by Paul. Wilson worked for Paul at the Georgia lottery in the same job and at the same rate, but the amount there included bonuses.
In salary alone, Wilson will earn more than either the Tennessee attorney general, the general counsel for Gov. Phil Bredesen or the chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court.
In an interview with The Tennessean earlier yesterday, Paul said she has not hired the executive vice presidents who will serve on the committee that evaluates requests for proposals, and even if she had, she said, she would not say who they are. The executive vice presidents are expected to be paid more than senior vice presidents, who will be paid $150,000 a year, not including bonuses.
"Who needs to know who they are?" Paul asked a reporter. "Why do you want to know who they are? Why does anyone need to know who they are as long as they are announced after the proposals are in but before the proposals are opened? There is nobody who needs to know that for any reason."
There has been some grumbling among state lawmakers over Paul's $350,000 salary that, with incentive bonuses, could raise her income above $750,000 if she reaches all the performance goals.
Paul has said there will be incentive pay "for everybody from the mail room clerk on up."
Another hiring announced yesterday was Will Pinkston, 31, a former newspaper reporter, who will serve as senior vice president for corporate affairs at a salary of $95,000, plus a bonus. He was making $66,000 as an aide to Gov. Phil Bredesen.
Vendors will submit bids to provide a computer system and backup, computer terminals, lottery tickets, a communications network and a variety of other goods and services to supply the 4,000 Tennessee lottery retailers, primarily convenience markets, at startup.
Paul's incentive package is based on having instant lottery tickets on sale by Feb. 10; having online games up and running by April 8; and generating more than $100 million in lottery revenue by July 1.
The deadline for bids on Oct . 27 is 3 p.m. The evaluation committee members will be announced between 3 and 4 p.m. The proposals will be opened at 4.
Paul refused yesterday to say how many people will serve on the evaluation committee. "There are a lot of folks floating around with lots of agendas," she said, referring to vendors. "You don't want folks attempting to influence people."
Lottery spokesman Pinkston compared the action to sequestering a jury. "You want to protect people from things. The bottom line is, it is common practice in contracting, whether it is the lottery industry or any other industry, to do it this way. No one wants to run the risk of giving any vendor, whoever they may be, the chance to meddle or insert themselves in the evaluation process."
Paul said the salaries she has announced thus far were set at the low end of what is comparable in the private marketplace, and it would be wrong to compare lottery salaries to those in state government. "We're not state government. We're competing with Coca-Cola, Frito-Lay and Mars candy, and the legislation very specifically set us up as a corporation and not as a state agency. Our employees are not state employees."
Pinkston is a former reporter for The Wall Street Journal and The Tennessean, and most recently worked as a special projects director for Bredesen. He will be responsible for managing community and media relations, lobbying the legislature, player information, and publications. Paul said a separate lobbying firm will not be hired.
Wilson, 53, earned $180,000 as general counsel in Georgia, which included a $40,000 bonus. She and the senior vice president of corporate affairs at the Georgia lottery were the highest-paid staff under Paul.
Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Frank Drowota earns about $124,000 a year, state Attorney General Paul Summers earns about $122,000, and Bredesen's legal counsel Bob Cooper makes $98,000.
Already on board at the lottery is Agenia Clark, vice president of human resources, who is earning $100,000, plus a bonus. She had that same position at Vanderbilt University.
All lottery employees will be paid an incentive bonus, with the sales staff working under a commission plan, Paul said. She has not announced that bonus structure yet. Paul has not said how many vice presidents she plans to hire or if any others will come from Georgia.