Lottery Panel Chief Named Interim Director

March 24, 1985|United Press International

SACRAMENTO — Faced with immense pressure from today's unmet deadline for the first sale of lottery tickets, Gov. George Deukmejian named Lottery Commission Chairman Howard Varner as interim director of the state gambling program passed by voters last year.

Deukmejian said his original choice, Thomas O'Heir, an assistant director of the Massachusetts lottery, turned down the job Tuesday because the $73,780-a-year salary was too low. O'Heir had asked for $100,000.

Deukmejian told reporters there was no second choice, so the process of reviewing candidates will begin again.

The governor named Chon Guitierrez, a top Administration aide, as interim deputy director.

Deukmejian canceled a state office tour this morning to spend the time privately discussing lottery developments with top aides.

The delay in naming a director for the Lottery Commission has stalled ticket sales until at least this summer, although Proposition 37 orders that tickets be available today. The commission has yet to decide details of the first lottery game.

No Penalty Specified

The governor faces no penalty for failing to meet the deadline, nor for having been a month late in naming the five members of the Lottery Commission.

But missing the initiative deadlines has created political heat for Deukmejian and sparked a lawsuit in San Francisco from a Los Gatos teacher upset that education programs are going without about $1.3 million a day because lottery tickets aren't being sold.

Considered the largest in the nation, California's lottery is expected to raise $1 billion a year. Half the money will be given away as prizes and about one-quarter will go to public schools and colleges.

Deukmejian earlier this week predicted that ticket sales will begin "in four or five months."

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