Tag Archives: Christine White

Lockwood appointed acting Racing Commissioner

Genesee County Commissioner Patricia Lockwood has been named acting Racing Commissioner, according to the Michigan Office of Racing Commissioner website.

The details of Lockwood’s appointment were not immediately available, nor were the terms of the “acting” title. The position of Racing Commissioner is normally a four-year appointment, but Lockwood’s term could be abbreviated because she was brought in during the middle of Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s term.

Lockwood replaces former Racing Commissioner Christine White, who resigned on June 30 to accept a position with the United States Department of Agriculture.

Lockwood, a Fenton-based Democrat, was elected to represent the Genesee County Board of Commissioners’ 6th district in 2008. She previously served as a state representative from 1998 to 2001 and was the mayor of Fenton from 1989 to 1998. In 2004, Lockwood was appointed as the state’s Emerald Ash Borer Policy Director.

Other positions Lockwood has held include State Transportation Commission Advisor, minority vice chair for for the House Local Government/Urban Policy and Transportation Committees and President of the Michigan Municipal League.

I’m going to hold off on editorializing too much at this time, but I will note that nowhere in Lockwood’s resume do I see experience with horses or the racing industry.

Keep an eye out for new updates to this story, because there are sure to be some. As always, when I know something, you’ll know it, too.

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Filed under Politics

Michigan’s Racing Commissioner Resigns

Big news on the Michigan HBPA wire today…

COMMISSIONER RESIGNS: Racing Commissioner Christine White notified the ORC staff June 30th that effective “at the end of this week” will resign the position as Commissioner to accept a position in the US Department of Agriculture. Position with the US Dept. of Agri. will begin Monday, July 6th. 

There had been some chatter about this move happening for several months, but now it’s official. No word has been made on potential candidates to replace Commissioner White on an interim or permanent basis.

Crain’s Detroit Business reports White’s new position will keep her in the Lansing area as Michigan’s Executive Director for the USDA’s Farm Service Agency. White has held several positions with the USDA prior to becoming the state’s Racing Commissioner in 2005. 

This is still somewhat breaking news, so as soon as I find anything else out, you’ll see it here.

In the meantime, I hope Gov. Jennifer Granholm carefully considers her options when appointing the next Commissioner. Her actions regarding the racing industry as of late suggest the best interests of the sport may not be served, but I hope I am wrong on this. Michigan’s racing industry has suffered from a void of leadership in Lansing for quite some time and the time is now to put someone in the captain’s chair who can right the ship.

Five bucks says the new commissioner’s last position was at a casino.

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Though the news is fairly breaking, I have already heard word of some preparing their resumes for the newly vacant position. I considered sending in mine, but I don’t think my last two positions as “Thoroughbred Times Intern” and “Amateur Racetrack Opinionator” are going to be enough to get me over the hump.

However, the intrigue surrounding this open position has given me an idea. 

As part of the coverage following the appointment of the new Racing Commissioner, I am opening up my blog to guest posts from serious applicants to the position. 

If you are submitting an application to become the next Racing Commissioner and would like the public to know why you are the best person for the job, this is your chance. Granted, the position is appointed, not elected, but public support  is never a bad thing when shooting for a job in government.

Interested parties should email a 500-word or less statement outlining their plans for Michigan racing and what makes them the prime candidate for the position, along with a profile photo. Also, to confirm the legitimacy of the submission, please send a copy of your resume and cover letter, which may also be published with the submitting party’s consent. Submissions will be posted on a first-come-first-serve basis.

I look forward to reading the submissions and hopefully getting a vision of Michigan racing’s direction for the future.

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Filed under Commentary, Politics

Michigan’s race dates officially slashed

This was released by the Office of Racing Commissioner earlier today…

LANSING – Racing Commissioner, Christine C. White, today signed orders eliminating 101 live race dates for the remainder of the 2009 fiscal year ending September 30, 2009. 

The budget for the Office of Racing Commissioner (ORC) was reduced by $1.4 million in the Governor’s Executive Order issued on May 5, 2009. The budget for the ORC during fiscal year 2009 was set at $3.8 million and has been reduced by $1.4 million with only four months remaining in the fiscal year.   

 “This was the last thing we wanted to do,” Commissioner White said, “but our hands are tied. There is insufficient funding to get us through the fiscal year.” 

While the actual days are still in negotiation, the thoroughbred industry that includes Pinnacle Race Course will see a reduction of 42 days out of its original 82 days. Mount Pleasant Meadows will lose 18 of its 37 days. The harness industry will see reductions in two tracks.  Hazel Park will lose 38 days and Northville Racing Corporation will be cut the three days scheduled for this fiscal year. 

Obviously, this is the day Michigan’s racing industry has feared for a long time. I have already said my piece on the situation as a whole, so I will not rehash myself here. However, I do have some thoughts on this press release…

– According to this release, Pinnacle will get 40 days, as opposed to the 25 days the initial projections were reporting. However, ORC Information Director Liana Bennett said those lower figures were not official. The Detroit News reports Pinnacle owner Jerry Campbell met with Gov. Jennifer Granholm at Mackinac Island over the weekend and got some funding restored, which could explain the matter. However, a story today from Crain’s Detroit Business and Campbell’s reaction to the cuts makes me wonder what really happened up north…

Campbell said he met with Gov. Jennifer Granholm and offered to have the state’s horse industry give up two days of racing and use the purse money from those days to fund the state track officials.

The racing commissioner said it needs $154,000 to staff the race days, Campbell said, which could be offset by the purse money from two days.

The governor listened but made no commitment, he said.

– Crain’s Detroit Business

The release also says Pinnacle is still in negotiation for dates, which may or may not have something to do with the two aforementioned stories. I am unsure if this means the actual number of race dates could fluctuate or if the issue is with how the 40 days will be disbursed throughout the season.

– Make no mistake, these cuts are bad. But with the average field sizes Mount Pleasant Meadows has been putting out so far, I am not sure if the track would have had the horses on the grounds to run more than one day a week anyway. The number of entries and races have both been rising steadily since opening day, but there are still too many four-horse fields to imagine an additional day of racing per week filling fields with any consistency. Ontario’s Ajax Downs opens in the coming days, meaning the influx of Canadian-based horseflesh leaving the gates could slow to a trickle, which would drive the number of entries even further downward. On the plus side, with half a season’s worth of purse structure now just sitting there, Mount Pleasant might be able to put up a few purses big enough to bring some horses back from Indiana.

– The release is vague regarding when the remaining dates will be run. When news of the cuts was first announced, the plan seemed to be to run Pinnacle from June to July and lay everyone off for the rest of the fiscal year (another part of the proposal that Bennett said was unofficial). It is not clear whether running 40 dates will expand the schedule into later months or if the track will be live for more days per week during the two months originally planned.

I’ll ask around and see what else I can find out. Keep checking back to this post as I get more information and turn my initial speculations into facts.

Until then, here are stories on the situation by the Thoroughbred Times and the Blood Horse.

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Filed under Commentary, Mount Pleasant Meadows, Pinnacle Race Course, Politics