by Max Brantley
The Arkansas Lottery Commission tonight at 7:45 p.m. named William Bishop Woosley as the new Director of the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery. Woosley, the Lottery’s Chief Legal Counsel since its startup in mid-2009, will be paid $165,000 annually.
The decision followed a day-long meeting of the Commissioners with all nine members present. Seven candidates were interviewed on Saturday prior to the Commissioners’ deliberations and decision.
The appointment is effective immediately.
Surprised? I am a little bit. But he doesn't lack experience in the field. He carries no political baggage.
The Commission vote to hire Woosley after almost 12 hours of closed meetings was 6-2. Commissioner Bruce Engstrom did not vote, as expected. Commissioners George Hammons and Raymond Frazier voted no. They joined in the unanimous vote setting Woosley's salary. He had been making about $115,000.
It is safe to assume several of the seven candidates had champions in the closed session (Hammons and Frazier apparently supported Bob Nash, for example). Woosley, a stabilizing influence on the lottery staff after the departure of startup leader Ernie Passailaigue, comes to the job with some general appreciation among staff for his leadership, along with Interim Director Julie Baldridge.
Before choosing Woosley, the Commission met briefly in executive session on a pay raise for Baldridge. She was increased from $109,000 to $130,000 in recognition of her work during the interim. She also willl continue as a high-level employee. The commission has two deputy commissioner slots that are open and may not be filled. They were held, at $225,000 each, by assistants Passailaigue had brought with him from South Carolina. All three departed in short order after a series of controversies over pay, leave policy and travel expenses.
The field of candidates included lottery officials from other states, a former race track executive and a couple with Arkansas political connections — Bob Nash, a former aide to Bill Clinton, and Bill Stovall, a House speaker and top House staff member now.
Woosley was in private practice for eight years, most of them in Stuttgart, before going to work in the attorney general's office in 2007 then joining the lottery in 2009. He's a 1996 graduate of the University of Central Arkansas and a 1999 graduate of the UALR Law School