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Gaming Control Board Bids Farewell to Three Dedicated Public Servants17 March 2004
On Tuesday, March 9th, the Michigan Gaming Control Board adopted resolutions recognizing and acknowledging the contributions of two of its former members (Roman Gribbs and Rich Davis) and Assistant Attorney General Eric Eggan who had been in charge of the casino control division since the Board's inception in 1996. Damian Kassab, Chair of the Board, said "We will miss them and appreciate all they have done." Another Board member, Judge Michael Stacy, the last original appointee to the Board by the John Engler administration, summed up his feelings by saying: "I know someone is going to fill their positions, but the three of them cannot be replaced."
The terms of service for both Roman Gribbs and Rich Davis expired at the end of 2003. Governor Granholm recently appointed retired District Court Judge Benjamin Friedman to replace Mr. Gribbs. There are currently two vacancies on the all-volunteer Control Board.
Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Casino Control Division, Eric Eggan, recently announced that he was taking a job with a law firm in the private sector. Mr. Eggan completed over 23 years of service to our state. Assistant Attorney General Jack Cahill told the Board how instrumental Mr. Eggan has been:
"Eric and I began a couple of days after Proposal E passed. I wanted to take this opportunity to say what a pleasure it has been. The Board couldn't have had a better public servant. He is a man of the highest integrity."
Executive Director Dan Gustafson noted that he first started with Mr. Eggan at the Liquor Control Commission, where he had the pleasure of training Mr. Eggan about the liquor laws. Then, he said, when he arrived at the Gaming Control Board, their roles were reversed. He noted that the difference is that at Liquor Control whenever someone would wonder why there was some bizarre rule or statutory provision the answer would be to point back at something that occurred back in the 1930s. With gaming, Mr. Gustafson said, when someone asks, "Why is that there?" the answer is "Eric?" Mr. Gustafson noted that he had a "great working relationship with Eric and he will be missed." He then jokingly claimed responsibility for Mr. Eggan's departure noting that he recently set a date for the completion of a rewrite of the Rules, and shortly thereafter Mr. Eggan said he was leaving.
Former Executive Director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board and current member of the National Indian Gaming Commission Nelson Westrin said the following about Mr. Eggan:
"As the Board's first attorney, we were lucky to have such a talented lawyer who provided outstanding representation in the gaming industry's early years. As the years went by, there was always a crisis, and he was always up to the challenge. I slept a lot better knowing he was there."
Mr. Eggan told the Board that "The decision to leave the Department of Attorney General is the most difficult I have ever made. We are blessed with a fantastic relationship with our clients. Dan has provided extraordinary leadership as well as Nelson Westrin before him, and the relationship with the State Police has been fantastic."
All three gentlemen have had very distinguished careers in public service. Rich Davis was the former director of the Michigan State Police, and brought a strong law enforcement perspective to the Board. He now lives in Charlevoix, Michigan, and probably won't miss the long trips down to monthly Board meetings.
Roman Gribbs, of course, has been a key figure in this state in many roles dating all the way back to 1956. The former Mayor of Detroit (1970-1974), Sheriff (1968-1959), Circuit Judge (1975-1982) and Court of Appeals Justice (1982-2001) now resides in a Detroit suburb. He epitomizes class and all that is good about the State of Michigan and the values of our citizens.
Eric Eggan was one of the key individuals (together with former Executive Director Nelson Westrin, former Deputy Director of Licensing Tom Nelson, former Lab Manager Pat Leen, current Assistant Attorney General Jack Cahill, and current Deputy Director of Licensing Ben McMakin) who took the very short language of Proposal E, and crafted the comprehensive Gaming Control and Revenue Act and Rules that our legislators ended up adopting and approving. Mr. Eggan is a rare individual who displays the unique talent of always being diplomatic. He is truly a gentleman, which is a rare commodity these days.
As Judge Stacy correctly noted, others will fill the positions of these three public servants. They will bring fresh perspectives, will change some approaches, and will make their own positive marks on the process. However, the creative force that these gentlemen and the other pioneers brought to gaming regulation will never be replaced.