Oregon Lottery Commission chokes; Gov. Kulongoski gives a timid responseRegulators too frequently lie down with the people whom they are supposed to regulate. That's what the Oregon Lottery Commission did last week when it passed by a 4-1 vote a timid revision of the formula for commissions that are paid to taverns and bars that house gaming machines.
The commission trimmed slightly Director Brenda Rocklin's recommendation that commissions be reduced from 32 percent to 28 percent. Rocklin's proposal was too weak to begin with.
The powerful Oregon Restaurant Association complained about the new watered-down deal. It should have been dealt a much stronger new formula.
It is disappointing that Gov. Ted Kulongoski himself delivered a timid statement in the wake of the Lottery Commission's vote. Kulongoski knows that he has the power to take this case to the public. He has chosen not to.
Secretary of State Bill Bradbury had the gumption to express outrage at the commission's vote. Commissioner Richard Solomon nailed it when he said: "A lot of these lottery retailers want to continue to be on the state dole. I think the cuts could have been deeper, and (the retailers) would have stayed, because they make a whole lot of money on it." Solomon is an accountant and voted against the proposal.
It is common for agency heads to forget who they are working for. Top bureaucrats frequently regard the people they regulate, but not the public, as their prime customer.
A governor should not make that mistake.