Lottery commission to hold telephonic meetings
SALEM — By next month, Oregon lottery commissioners could be voting on important state revenue and gambling matters while still attired in their pajamas, without anyone's knowledge.
Lottery Director Barry Pack recently announced that the five-member commission will no longer meet monthly at lottery headquarters in Salem to make their decisions. Instead, commissioners will hold some public meetings telephonically, out of public view. The public can still listen in to the telephone conversations, as required by Oregon law.
"This would be a more efficient use of commissioners' time and allow for longer, more substantive discussions to be held during the on-site meetings," Pack wrote in a March 23 memo to commissioners.
At least one of the commissioners, Chris Telfer, a certified public accountant and former lawmaker, has a long drive to make meetings in Salem. Telfer lives in Bend.
The other commissioners live relatively close to the capital city. Raul Valdivia, another CPA, lives in Salem. Two others, MardiLyn Saathoff, general counsel for Northwest Natural Gas Co., and Maulin Patel, vice president of finance and treasurer of Oregon Health Science Univeristy, live in Portland. A fifth seat is vacant, according to the lottery's website.
Commissioners will convene in person about every other month and will hold a telephonic meeting on months they don't meet in the Salem.
They began discussing the possibility in January. Pack subsequently consulted with the Oregon Department of Justice to determine whether such a change would be legal.
Oregon law requires the commission to "meet" monthly but not in person. Agenda items can be discussed and voted on telephonically, Pack wrote, citing advice from DOJ.
Voices of Problem Gambling Recover, a nonprofit watchdog of lottery practices, gave its blessing for the change.
Representatives of the nonprofit group said the change will "allow their attendees to better prepare their commentary to align with the topics being presented at the meeting," Pack wrote.
Meetings in April, July, September and December will be held via teleconference and will be subject to same open meetings laws. Notice must be posted, and interested parties must have the ability to listen to the meeting and speak by telephone to the commission during the public comment period.
Meetings in the other months will be held at lottery headquarters in Salem.