Crosby says “no reason” to resign

Gaming commission head says he can do other work on the panel

Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby said Thursday that there is “absolutely no reason on earth” for him to resign.

The commissioner, who has been under fire for his decision to attend a Kentucky Derby Day party at Suffolk Downs, said that he considered stepping down. However, after discussions with the other members of the commission, Crosby decided instead to recuse himself from the deliberations on the Greater Boston license.

Gov. Deval Patrick supported his decision. “We didn’t want to take our foot off the gas pedal,” Crosby explained in remarks to reporters after the first half of the gaming commission meeting. “Jobs are starting to happen, construction is starting to happen, revenue will be flowing in as little as six to eight months.”

Crosby noted that the commission has been operating with four people for the past eight months on the sale of land in Everett to casino developer Steve Wynn. The chairman also had recused himself from the commission’s discussions on the Everett land sale because of a potential conflict involving a former business partner and friend who is one of the co-owners of the land.

“The commission will do fine without me on [eastern Massachusetts license.]” he said. “There is plenty of other work to be done.”

That work includes figuring out how four commissioners are going to handle Boston area issues that could potentially produce tie votes. During the group’s discussion of Region A matters sans Crosby, acting commission chairman James McHugh expressed optimism that the group could avoid tie votes. In two-and-half years, the commission has taken about 240 votes and the number of less than unanimous tallies could be counted on the “fingers of both hands,” according to McHugh.

“This is a remarkably cohesive group,” he said.

The commission plans to take the next two weeks to research how the group should proceed in case of a tie. Commissioner Enrique Zuniga said that there are “number of examples” of boards and commissions in Massachusetts that have operated under similar circumstances.

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Gabrielle Gurley

Senior Associate Editor, CommonWealth

About Gabrielle Gurley

Gabrielle covers several beats, including mass transit, municipal government, child welfare, and energy and the environment. Her recent articles have explored municipal hiring practices in Pittsfield, public defender pay, and medical marijuana, and she has won several national journalism awards for her work. Prior to coming to CommonWealth in 2005, Gabrielle wrote for the State House News Service, The Boston Globe, and other publications. She launched her media career in broadcast journalism with C-SPAN in Washington, DC. The Philadelphia native holds degrees from Boston College and Georgetown University.

About Gabrielle Gurley

Gabrielle covers several beats, including mass transit, municipal government, child welfare, and energy and the environment. Her recent articles have explored municipal hiring practices in Pittsfield, public defender pay, and medical marijuana, and she has won several national journalism awards for her work. Prior to coming to CommonWealth in 2005, Gabrielle wrote for the State House News Service, The Boston Globe, and other publications. She launched her media career in broadcast journalism with C-SPAN in Washington, DC. The Philadelphia native holds degrees from Boston College and Georgetown University.

In other casino matters, commissioners formally voted 4 to 0 that Everett and Revere are host communities and Boston, a surrounding community. Once the commission publishes its written decision, which could come early as Friday, Mohegan Sun and Wynn Resorts have 30 days to negotiate agreements with the three cities, subject to a 14-day extension. If the parties do not reach and agreements after 44 days, arbitration procedures kick in.

After host community meetings wrap up in late July, the eastern Massachusetts license could be awarded as by end of August or as late as mid-September.