I'm happy to say that it looks like the Texas Lottery Commission really is serious about finding a good director.
A lottery critic, the executive director of the State Bar of Texas and a member of the Texas Ethics Commission have joined a committee to help search for a new state lottery chief, the lottery announced today.
The search committee, under the leadership of Texas Lottery Commission Chairman C. Thomas Clowe, will review applications and interview the top candidates. The committee will then recommend three to five candidates to the commission.
The three-man commission may consider and select any candidate, but the ones identified by the search committee will receive serious consideration, Clowe said in a letter to Francisco Hernandez, the ethics commissioner.
One of the committee members is Gerald Busald, a San Antonio College math professor who oversaw a student project that persuaded the commission to change the way it advertises odds for winning from scratch-off lottery tickets.
At last week's lottery commission meeting, Busald criticized what he called the agency's culture of secrecy, saying top officials have covered up information they thought would hurt sales.
Busald said today he would look for honest candidates with the courage to change the agency's culture.
"I think I will have some tough questions to ask the candidates about those integrity issues," he said.
Dawn Nettles, another longtime lottery critic, was named to the committee but immediately stepped down. She said participating in the search would conflict with her duties publishing her "Lotto Report" newsletter and Web site.
"I was honored that they asked," she said. "I report the things that go on and I don't think that it's fair to my readers to be in that position."
Lottery spokesman Bobby Heith said Clowe was surprised by Nettles' decision and would not appoint a replacement.