After demanding $4 million from its game designer firm, CT Lottery settles for $300,000, and our new Lottery Commissioner Francis X. Fudrucker hints that we were lucky to get that
Farricker, in an interview, said that Anne M. Noble, the former lottery president who is now a consultant to the lottery board, overstated the damages, which were contested in an eight-month exchange of claims and counter-claims between Noble, lottery lawyers and Scientific Games’ executive and attorneys.
“The circumstances were not as clear cut as maybe my predecessor would have believed,” Farricker said. “I think the $4 million claim was not good. There was not a good working relationship between Anne and Scientific Games. They’re our partner in many respects. We invest a lot in them and they invest a lot in us.”
“I still don’t believe moving that case forward was in the best interests of the people of Connecticut,” Farricker said. “I believe it should have been handled in a much different fashion. When I took over at the end of August, I wanted to find a way to take care of our issues with Scientific Games.”
All well and good, but if the former commissioner was such an incompetent, why are we rewarding her so handsomely? According to the Currant she's got her head so deeply buried in the trough that only her curly, twitching little tail is still visible.
Lottery President and CEO Anne Noble hit the jackpot on her way out the door last month. She stepped down on Sept. 22, but her $212,000 yearly salary continues until Jan. 31 while she serves as an "adviser." At that point she'll be fully vested for the state's generous retirement benefits. Oh, and she'll also get a $21,220 "incentive" bonus this month.
But the gravy train doesn't stop there. Starting in February, Ms. Noble will get $150,000 over six months as a consultant. She'll earn more outside the corner office in those months — roughly $6,250 per week — than she earned while in it.
What's troubling, besides the golden handshake she's getting, is the cloud Ms. Noble is leaving under. A lottery game, 5 Card Cash, was shut down last year because it had more winners than it should have. Nine retailers were arrested. WTNH has reported that senior lottery staff knew of potential security flaws nearly a year before the game was pulled.
In addition to Ms. Noble's golden parachute, the lottery's personnel committee is suggesting paying interim CEO Frank Farricker $4,000 a week, he said Tuesday. That is the equivalent of $208,000 per year. The suggestion will go to the full lottery board in November. Mr. Farricker is, by the way, also chairman of the lottery board.
Mr. Farricker had said back in August that he would serve as interim CEO without salary until a permanent replacement is found. (No, he hasn't ruled himself out as that replacement.) He characterizes the suggested $4,000-a-week payment as a consulting fee rather than a salary. It's compensation, he says, for his time and the drive from his Greenwich home to lottery headquarters in Rocky Hill.
Mr. Farricker deserves to be paid for his services as interim CEO.
But paying two top executives $4,000 or more a week seems excessive — even for a successful quasi-public like the lottery — in a state facing a lot of red ink down the pike.
Ms. Noble's going-away gift is certainly over the top. It's a mystery why she's getting it. Mr. Farricker says the lottery's budget can absorb it. Nevertheless, it sends the wrong message for this quasi-public agency to be so spendthrift when state agencies are having to lay off employees and cut vital services.
Yes it does.
UPDATE I: Furucker informs me that, news reports to the contrary, he is not receiving a salary for serving as temporary Lottery President. Francis has served for several years as the unpaid Lottery Commissioner, and stepped in to take over Noble's duties when she imploded. That's a shocking admission of poor negotiating skills: Francis does the work, the incompetent gets the pay, but having watched him hands real estate deals with great skill, I can assure potential clients of Lockwood & Mead that his inability to strike a good deal for himself in no way reflects on his ability to represent buyers with great success.
UPDATE II: (Somewhat) related:
There was a time when some public officials were known as "dollar-a-year men (or women). That time is gone except, of course, for The Donald, who won't be accepting his salary as President. Of course, as is shown out in Minnesota and here in the Nutmeg State, there are always emoluments that come with public service jobs.