One of the few undisputed facts to emerge from the continuing controversy over the operation of the D.C. Lottery Board is that the new agency is making millions of dollars for a city that desperately needs the money.
This year alone, District lottery games are expected to pump $21 million into the city's general fund--an essential ingredient in Mayor Marion Barry's effort to balance the fiscal 1983 operating budget. In the coming year, the lottery games may produce $42.5 million in net revenues.
That's a pretty good return on the city's investment of about $2 million a year in operating expenditures.
But cash-hungry city officials, instead of celebrating the city's good fortune, have been mired in a political feud over ultimate control of the Lottery Board--a feud that has delayed plans to expand the game and bring in even more cash.
Beginning with the mayor's regularly scheduled news conference today, this week should give a fairly good indication of whether the wrangling will subside or District taxpayers and bettors will be treated to more political gamesmanship.
Barry's initial tack was to directly intervene in the quasi-independent board's efforts to sign a contract with a firm called Lottery Technology Enterprises to run a new daily numbers game.
The mayor contended the board's selection process might somehow invite lawsuits that would jeopardize the city's basic minority contracting law. But Barry backed away from that novel explanation when few others agreed with him.
Since then, Barry has tried to run down the reputations of lottery officials, including one board member whom he called a "liar," and has strongly hinted he intends to replace two board members, Jerry Cooper and Lillian Wiggins, whose terms expire this month.
Last week, one of Barry's close allies on the City Council, Nadine P. Winter (D-Ward 6), raised a fuss about the Lottery Board's budget, while mayoral aides dropped not-so-subtle hints to reporters that board members were administrative incompetents, unfit to handle complicated contracts.
Yet Barry's own inspector general, Joyce Blalock, who has monitored the fledgling agency since last summer, said she had found nothing to suggest gross incompetence or mismanagement--hardly ammunition for the mayor to raise such a ruckus.
The upshot is it will be harder for Barry to justify further efforts to exert control over the Lottery Board as anything other than a basic disagreement with the board over its choices of firms to get new contracts.
There are other crucial developments to watch.
Board members plan to try again on Friday to award the daily numbers contract that was initially awarded to Lottery Technology but then rescinded after Barry and others complained.
Their efforts could be thwarted by the District's Contract Review Committee, which mediates disputes between city agencies and private contractors. The committee has asked for clarification of the board's bidding procedures on this contract.
The committee, which will hold a hearing on the contract next Tuesday, was instrumental in keeping Lottery Technology from getting the contract the first time.
William A. Bogan, an official with a national Hispanic group, this week was elected president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the area's largest and most influential gay organization.
Bogan, 32, a project coordinator for the National Coalition of Hispanic Mental Health and Human Services Organizations and former producer of a radio program called "Friends," succeeds Joe Tom Easley, who resigned in midterm.
Bogan said he plans to step up the club's recruitment efforts in anticipation of the 1984 elections.
Easley, a professor at the Antioch School of Law, will spend the coming year in New York as a visiting scholar at the Columbia University School of Law. He helped lobby for passage of the District's Sexual Assault Reform Act and also served on the city's civilian police review board.