Jerry Chabler, a former Toledo police officer, member of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority board, and a long-time Democratic Party fund-raiser and operative, was appointed to the new seven-member Ohio Casino Control Commission.
Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, who opposed the constitutional amendment that authorized the casinos, appointed the 75-year-old Sylvania resident to a three-year term.
As a commission member, Mr. Chabler will be paid an annual salary of $60,000 plus be reimbursed for commission-related expenses.
Like the governor, Mr. Chabler was against the ballot initiative and resulting state constitutional amendment that authorized four specific locations in the state for casinos: Toledo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus.
Developers broke ground on Toledo's $250 million Hollywood Casino in August on a 44-acre piece of riverfront land off Miami Street and just west of I-75. It's scheduled to open during the first half of 2012.
Mr. Chabler has helped raise money for Mr. Strickland, including hosting an event in January at the Carranor Hunt & Polo Club in Perrysburg where former President Bill Clinton was the star speaker. At the time, Mr. Chabler said the event sold 132 tickets ranging in price from $1,000 to $10,000.
Mr. Chabler said he supports the general public policy of casinos for Ohio, but said he opposed the specific deal set up for the gaming companies last year as not the best one for taxpayers.
He said the up-front $50 million licensing fee pales when compared to amounts charged in other states.
And he said the tax rate casinos will have to pay back to government is half of what some casinos pay. The company must by law divert 33 percent of the facility's gross gambling revenues to taxes - on top of local payroll and property taxes.
"It was written by casinos, for casinos," he said of the amendment.
Hollywood Casino's developer and operator, Penn National Gaming Inc., of Wyomissing, Pa., has promised to hire 90 percent of its 1,200 permanent employees from the metropolitan Toledo area. It says it also will need 2,100 jobs during construction.
Mr. Chabler told The Blade Friday he wants to make sure the company and others operating in the state keep their promises of employment and also follow state law requiring them to pay taxes equivalent to about one-third of gross gambling revenues.
"These are real money-makers," Mr. Chabler said. "There were a lot of promises made about the number of jobs. I want to hold their feet to the fire to make sure these jobs materialize."
Mr. Chabler has experience in gaming regulation.
He served on the lottery commission in the past and said he recently resigned his position on the Ohio State Racing Commission so he could accept the new position.
Pete Gerken, chairman of the Lucas County Board of Commissioners, said he was pleased that the governor chose to include a Lucas County member on the state panel.
Mr. Gerken, an ardent supporter of the casino project from the start, said he and Mr. Chabler may have a different perspective on the issue but that he's a "guy I can pick up the phone and have a conversation with."
He said the addition of the casino to Toledo's stable of venues gives the downtown and surrounding area a year-round appeal, considering the recent addition of what is now called the Huntington Center.
The downtown arena is home to the minor-league hockey Toledo Walleye and other events, such as the circus and concerts.
Mr. Gerken said Penn National has shown itself to be a good corporate citizen by agreeing not to build a hotel on the casino site to preserve that traffic for existing hotels. He also touted a planned transportation system and water taxis.
According to state law, the casino commission members, all appointed by the governor, must include one certified public accountant, one with law enforcement experience, at least one lawyer, and at least one member residing in a county with a casino.
The other six commission members are all from counties that will be home to the planned casinos.
No more than four commission members can come from the same political party.
The governor appointed four Democrats and three Republicans.
The other members are:
•Democrat Joseph Rugola, who is from Columbus and serves as president of the Ohio AFL-CIO.
•Republican Charles Saxbe of Columbus, who was appointed commission chairman. He is a co-managing partner at Chester, Willcox, and Saxbe law firm. He was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1974, serving four consecutive terms.
•Republican Michael Bolte of Harrison. He is a retired Cincinnati police officer, serving from 1972 until his retirement in 2002 as a captain.
•Republican William Kirkham, of Cincinnati. He is an attorney and director of the William R. Dally Foundation.
•Democrat Greta Russell of Columbus. She has been controller at Ohio State University since 1995, and was comptroller in the Office of Ohio Treasurer from 1983 to 1995. Gov. Bob Taft appointed her to the State Accountancy Board, and she's a member of the Ohio Society of CPAs and former national president of the National Association of Black Accountants.
•Democrat Vanessa Whiting of Cleveland Heights. She is a partner with the Roetzel & Andress law firm and a member of the board of trustees for the Cuyahoga Community College Foundation and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Contact Christopher D. Kirkpatrick at:
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