The recently appointed Acting Racing Commissioner, Patricia Lockwood has already lost points in my book before making a single official action.
In a Flint Journal story, Lockwood said there is no reason she can not continue serving as a member of the Genesee County Board of Commissioners while also holding the office of Acting Racing Commissioner.
This rubs me the wrong way, and it should rub everyone associated with horse racing in this state the wrong way, as well.
No one has to be reminded that Michigan’s racing industry is at a critical juncture. We have seen three tracks shuttered in the last four years. There is a new track in Detroit that may never see completion unless business picks up. The state is becoming increasingly surrounded by slots and other alternative wagering with little means to add them itself. Handle, purses and entries are spiraling downward, and horsemen are leaving on what seems like a daily basis.
Now is not the time for a part-time commissioner.
Right now, the state needs a commissioner that will focus his or her efforts on improving the product and ensuring the industry’s survival. There is much work to be done, and it is frustrating to see the person deemed fit to oversee this operation approach the job with less than her undivided attention. Additionally, Lockwood’s apparent lack of experience in equine-related fields means she will likely be learning much about the industry on the fly. Pairing that all with the County Commissioner seat makes for an awful lot of balls to juggle, and none can afford to be dropped.
Not only am I disappointed in Lockwood for her statements, I am disappointed in Gov. Jennifer Granholm and those in the position to appoint and approve the new commissioner for placing someone in the spot who appears to have little to no experience in the field and does not plan to give 100% to the ORC. I would be curious to see who was passed up for the position and why they were deemed not qualified to hold it.
I hope Lockwood proves me wrong and leads Michigan racing into prosperity. As I mentioned before, she has yet to do much in the public eye, so making some positive moves in the early goings will shut me up in a hurry. If that happens, not only will I happily eat the crow, I’ll buy it and prepare it myself. That said, this is not a positive way to start things off.
Hopefully Commissioner Lockwood will further review her task at hand, rethink her stance and stick with one job.