Mayor Marion Barry, who has openly feuded for several months with the D.C. lottery board, yesterday nominated two new members to the board in an effort to gain greater control over legalized gambling operations in Washington, but a key City Council member said she intends to block the nominations.
Barry has hinted since April that he would try to replace board members Jerry Cooper and Lillian Wiggins, who, with board chairman Brant Coopersmith, have formed a 3-to-2 majority and resisted Barry's efforts to influence their decisions on gambling contracts.
Barry nominated John W. Posey, director of the Center for Student Financial Assistance at the University of the District of Columbia, and Alice Thompkins Davis, acting executive director of the Howard University Medical Alumni Office.
Barry declined through his press secretary, Annette Samuels, to be interviewed about the nominations. Posey declined to comment except to say he has not been active on gambling issues here. Davis could not be reached for comment.
The terms of Cooper and Wiggins expire today, according to the mayor's office, but the two board members will serve until their replacements are confirmed by the City Council, Samuels said.
City Council member Nadine P. Winter (D-Ward 6), who oversees the lottery board and can bottle up the nominations, said she opposes any immediate changes on the board. "I'm going to stick with my position," Winter said, adding that she would not approve the nominations until October.
Winter said the city should first clear up allegations--stemming from the feud with the mayor--of "mismanagement of funds, improper record keeping and innuendos of impropriety" that have arisen over the city's instant-winner lottery game and the board's efforts to start a daily numbers lottery.
Winter also said she would propose legislation next week to create a seven-member lottery board that would have to include two lawyers, two accountants, two consumers and a marketing expert. Winter said the city's current gambling law, which was passed by a citizen's initiative, is too vague.
"The initiative was fine, but I don't think the people understood how you get things done," Winter said. She said she wants the board to run the instant-winner game itself.
Wiggins was critical of the mayor's action. Both Cooper and Wiggins praised their potential successors, but Cooper added, "I don't welcome their coming on board because they'll probably run into the same thing we have run into."
The D.C. Office of Inspector General, which reports to the mayor, and the D.C. auditor, are both conducting audits of Games Production Inc., the private firm that operates the lottery, and La Mancha, the advertising arm of Games Production.
In addition, Rep. Stan Parris (R-Va.) has asked the General Accounting Office (GAO) to investigate the city's lottery operations.