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Grossman: Mass. checkbook will go online ASAP

STEVE LEBLANC

He’s helped elect senators and presidents and headed one of the nation’s top political parties. Now Steve Grossman is ready to step into his own public office in Massachusetts.

The former head of the Democratic National Committee said his first major initiative after being sworn in as state treasurer in January will be to post the state’s checkbook online — and he’s giving himself six months to get the user-friendly website up and running.

“Why shouldn’t every citizen have at least the right to know how every dime is spent?” Grossman said in an interview with the Associated Press. “The less that is perceived to happen behind closed doors and the more that’s out in the public space, the more confidence that people will have that it’s all on the up and up.”

The website won’t just list all the state’s expenditures. Grossman said he also wants to put online all the contracts that the treasurer’s office issues to ensure an open and fair public bidding process.

He said the office will adopt “an aggressive public bidding posture” in the hope of driving down costs.

Grossman, who beat out Republican challenger Karyn Polito to fill the seat left open by state Treasurer Timothy Cahill’s decision to run for governor, said he’s also planning to use the treasurer’s office to help spark the state’s economic recovery.

Grossman said he’ll transfer some of the billion or more in public dollars sitting in large financial institutions to community banks to encourage small business lending.

“Moving money from the biggest banks to small local community regional banks and credit unions … seems to me to be an important way to help jump-start small business lending which is how small businesses are going to start to hire people again,” he said.

Grossman pledged to make good on another of his campaign promises to expand lottery sales, with a goal of generating $1 billion in profits. Those profits are returned to cities and towns as local aid. As treasurer, Grossman will oversee the lottery.

Last year the lottery posted about a $903 million profit.

Grossman said he’d look to expand that profit by searching out new venues to sell lottery tickets, starting with Boston’s busy Logan International Airport.

“We’ve got 27 million people who go through Logan Airport every year,” Grossman said. “Over 50 percent of those visitors are from other states. So why not give them an opportunity to buy our product?”

As treasurer, Grossman also will oversee the state’s pension fund. He said he would lobby for an additional overhaul of pension rules beyond the changes approved by the Legislature last year.

“I’m a big believer that pension reform is something we need to be doing more of,” he said.

Grossman already has started to pull together a staff.

On Friday he announced he’ll keep one of Cahill’s top officials, Katherine Cravan, who will serve as Grossman’s first deputy treasurer. He also said he’ll appoint his campaign manager Kathryn Burton as his new chief of staff.

At 64, Grossman already has had a full life in politics and business.

He’s served as the head of the state and national Democratic parties, helped top Democrats like former President Bill Clinton and the late Sen. Edward Kennedy win elections and spent most of his adult life heading his 100-year-old family business, Grossman Marketing Group.

So why jump into politics now? And why state treasurer?

Grossman, who launched a failed bid for governor in 2002, said he saw a job that needed to be done and felt he was the best person to do it.

“This is a time of crisis, and I have always gravitated to and tried to play a leadership role in a time of crisis,” Grossman said. “It’s a huge job. It’s a job that is a game-changer.”

Associated Press