D.C. Council member Nadine P. Winter (D-Ward 6) yesterday criticized Mayor Marion Barry for failing to push for legislation that would revamp city lottery operations, saying the need for such change was most recently made apparent by an audit report that accuses three lottery officials of mismanagement.
"I think it is a disgrace that the mayor has not moved to straighten out what he knows are major problems at the lottery board," said Winter, who is in charge of overseeing the lottery board and has been a long-time critic of lottery operations.
Winter said D.C. Auditor Otis H. Troupe's report Wednesday that detailed the lottery board's purchase of a $299 video cassette recorder that is missing is the latest example of blunders and procurement problems that have plagued the agency and further demonstrates the need for a major overhaul of lottery operations.
Winter said that the council, at Barry's request, in late March postponed final action on a bill that would have abolished the lottery board and restructured lottery operations. Since then, she said, "I can't get the mayor to make any kind of move" on the lottery.
Barry, in a separate interview yesterday held before Winter made her comments, said he has no plans to urge adoption of the lottery reorganization legislation this year. He added that Winter cannot get passage of her bill, which is opposed by lottery officials, without his support.
Barry praised the board for taking "positive steps" to improve management of the lottery.
Barry also called Troupe's latest report a "cheap shot" and said he believes Troupe's persistent criticism of the agency is a result of strained personal relations between Troupe and lottery executive director Douglass Gordon. "I'm going to try to get them together," Barry said.
Troupe said yesterday that he has no personal animosity toward Gordon. He said the report followed a thorough investigation by his staff and raised serious questions about the lottery's purchasing procedures.
Board vice chairman Carolyn Lewis said yesterday that Troupe's criticism of the agency was unjustified, particularly since all the facts are not yet known. "It's like a witchhunt," Lewis said of Troupe's report.
On Wednesday the board asked the city's inspector general to investigate the purchase.
Winter said Troupe was justified in releasing the report because the board had taken too long to resolve questions about the purchase, which took place in July. Winter said Troupe's account of the purchase and the board's handling of it "makes your flesh crawl."
Troupe, in his report, said an internal lottery board investigation of the purchase was "incompetently performed," and urged that board security chief, Chester Thomas, be reassigned to a less sensitive job. Troupe accused Gordon of being derelict in his duties for failing to resolve questions surrounding the purchase quicker and said that Alex Exum, the board's executive assistant and marketing director, should be fired for his role in the purchase.
Exum said he purchased six video recorders that were used as door prizes for the board's July 10 grand prize drawing, but he was criticized by Troupe because the auditor said lottery and vendor records show that Exum signed for and authorized the board to pay for seven video recorders. Troupe said that the seller of the video recorders says that the lottery received seven, not six recorders.
Exum, through his attorney, Mark B. Sandground, yesterday released a statement in which he said that he never received the unaccounted video recorder and he obtained only six, not seven, from the store where they were purchased.
Exum's statement said Troupe was attempting "to create a mountain where even a miniscule molehill does not exist."
". . . I want to make one thing perfectly clear, I have not misappropriated a single penny from the lottery," Exum's statement said. "Nor have I intentionally misrepresented a single fact about the entire incident," said Exum, who said he has asked Sandground to investigate the matter.
Exum said he paid the board $299 for the missing video recorder because he accepts responsibility for administrative mix-ups that caused the board to pay for one more recorder than it received, but the payment "was not an admission of guilt." Sources said Exum paid the board on Monday.