July 12, 2005
Want to be the Texas Lottery director?

Well, this is potentially refreshing.

In a gesture of openness, Texas Lottery commissioners announced Monday that, for the first time, a committee of state officials and private citizens outside the lottery will help find the agency's next leader.


Commission Chairman Tom Clowe, mindful of criticisms that the lottery's culture is closed, stressed that the search will involve outsiders whose sole mission will be finding the most qualified applicants for the three-member lottery commission to consider. But the commission will make the final decision on a new executive director.

"What we want is a broad involvement of people who are interested in the lottery to participate, and that's a first," Clowe said. "To me, that represents a change in the culture and an outreach to people who want to be involved and say they'd like to make it a better operation."

Clowe said the search for the new executive director will "cast a wide net" and that its goal will be to "reach for excellence and find someone who is qualified, experienced and will do an outstanding job."

Hold that thought for a minute.

Commissioners named Greer's former deputy and longtime lottery employee Gary Grief as acting executive director while they advertise the position to lead the $3.5 billion state agency.


Clowe said he supported Grief for acting director because he believed him to be the most qualified. But lottery watchdogs, including a lawmaker, and several former employees, disagreed with the decision.

Some say Grief should have lost his job as well because a staffer notified him last month that Lotto sales would fall short of the June 8 estimated jackpot, but Grief failed to act.

Greer said he signed off on a form recommending an $8 million jackpot because he trusted his staff to recommend the right amount and didn't notice another spot on the form that estimated Lotto sales at only $6.5 million.

Clowe noted Monday that it wasn't Grief's responsibility to oversee the estimate. But critics say he could have done something to prevent an overstated jackpot to be advertised.

Ned Anderson, a former lottery investigator who lost his job in a November reorganization, said Grief is part of the institutional problems at the agency and is the wrong choice to lead it during a crisis.

"It's a bad thing," Anderson said. "I think that what they've done is they haven't really improved the problem at all."

And Rep. Ismael "Kino" Flores, who chairs the House committee that oversees the lottery, said the commission should take a closer look at support staffers who have been a "common denominator" in the troubled agency, including Grief. "They should be held responsible as well," Flores, D-Palmville, said.

At this point, all I'm going to say is that Gary Grief has no business becoming the next executive director. I'm in total agreement with Dawn Nettles here:

"My hope is they figure they're going to hire somebody who's going to come in and fire everybody else," she said.

Hey, Dawn. Do us all a favor and apply for the job yourself. Seriously. I can't think of a better choice offhand.

Other coverage of yesterday's Lottery Commission meeting, from the Express News:

Dawn Nettles, a lottery commission watchdog and publisher of the online "Lotto Report," asked commissioners Monday to do away with guaranteed jackpots and instead pay winners 50 percent of ticket sales, rather than the current 39 percent.

Commissioners also heard testimony from Gerald Busald, a professor of mathematics at San Antonio College, who criticized the $3.5 billion agency for fostering "a culture of hiding things," ignoring public input and sometimes concealing the truth in favor of increased sales.

"They need to bring in an outsider, someone with a real charge to clean things up and make truth the No. 1 issue," Busald later said.

Clowe said a search committee that will include state officials and members of the public will "cast a wide net" to find an executive director the public can trust.

Hire Dawn Nettles!

And from the Morning News:

Rep. Kino Flores, who leads the House committee that oversees the agency, noted that each of the agency's four executive directors has resigned or been fired but that the second level of management has never been disciplined.

"The people in command under the executive director are the common denominator," he said Monday. "They should be held responsible as well."

I'll bet Rep. Flores would champion you, Dawn.

Finally, an amusing tale from Valley Politico, who tells the tragic Shakespearean tale of "Griefius" and "Greerian". Sounds more like Goofus and Gallant to me, except for the fact that there's actually two Goofuses involved. Check it out.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 12, 2005 to Jackpot! | TrackBack