Former Shelby County Commissioner Morris Fair and local industrialist Marvell Mitchell have been named as two of seven members of the newly created Lottery Board for the state of Tennessee. The announcements were made in Nashville Monday afternoon by Governor Phil Bredesen.
The board will set policy and otherwise maintain oversight in conformity with legislation passed in this year's General Assembly.
Here are the descriptions of Fair and Mitchell included in Bredesen's official announcement:
"Fair is currently employed as a public finance consultant by Duncan Williams, Inc., an investment banking company based in Memphis. He is a founding member of the investment firm UMIC, Inc., Memphis. He served as chairman and CEO of the firm when it was sold to Union Planters Bank in 1988, where he worked until 1996. The company served as financial advisers to the City of Memphis, as well as a host of cities and jurisdictions surrounding Memphis. He is currently serving as chairman of the Memphis Cook Convention Center. Fair served on the Shelby County Board of Commissioners from 1996 to 2002, including a term as chairman from 2001 to 2002. Fair, 73, is a native of Tyronza, Ark., who has lived in Memphis for more than 40 years. He holds a bachelors degree in accounting from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. . .
"Mitchell is the managing partner of Mitchell Technology Group LLC, a Memphis firm that installs computer networks for businesses and distributes computer hardware and software. Before establishing Mitchell Technology Group, he served as district sales manager for Digital Equipment Corporation in Memphis from 1986 to 1995. Prior to that time, Mitchell worked at IBM Corporation, where his most recent position was marketing manager. Mitchell is chairman of the Black Business Association of Memphis, and a board member of the Memphis Chamber of Commerce, where he chairs the Minority Business Development Committee. He also serves on the board of the Southwest Tennessee Community College Foundation. Mitchell, 48, is a Memphis native. He holds a bachelors degree in marketing from Memphis State University."
Fair, a former chairman of the Shelby County Commission, was defeated in the Republican primary last year by current Commissioner John Willingham -- a circumstance noted as an "irony" by State Senator Steve Cohen, the longtime lottery backer who did most to secure passage of a lottery referendum last year and was a majro player in developing the lottery establishment package in this year's General Assembly.
As Cohen noted, Willingham has made a major cause of another gaming concept -- that of a casino for the The Pyramid, an idea which he hopes to get political and legal clearance for. The senator said he was pleased with the appointments of both Fair and Mitchell, as well was with that of Nashvillian Denny Bottorf, another board member with whom Cohen said he was well acquainted.
Fair said he was "surprised" to be considered for the lottery and had been sounded out about his willingness to serve by House Republican Leader Tre Hargett of Bartlett, who evidently passed Fair's name on to the governor as a recommendee.
Though there were some speculation from the camp of Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton that the rival Ford political clan had pushed for Mitchell's appointment, another possible sponsor was Democratic state representative Larry Miller, who has always been politically equidistant from the two main local Democratic factions.
And, of course, it is just possible that Bredesen did what he said he was going to do -- make decisions based totally on credentials.