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Texas Lottery critic turns down selection committee post

Texas LotteryTexas Lottery: Texas Lottery critic turns down selection committee post

A lottery watchdog who helped expose inflated Texas Lotto jackpots and a math professor whose students found problems with lottery advertisements were among 10 people chosen to help find the next leader of the struggling Texas Lottery Commission, officials said Friday.

Dawn Nettles, a frequent critic of the lottery, later withdrew from the search committee, saying her participation would be a conflict of interest.

C. Tom Clowe, who chairs the three-member commission that oversees the agency, appointed the committee and will lead its members in identifying candidates to succeed former Executive Director Reagan Greer.

Greer, a former Bexar County district clerk, resigned earlier this month after approving inflated jackpots recommended by his staff. He was the fourth lottery executive director to leave amid controversy.

Even though the three lottery commissioners will ultimately pick the new director, as they have in the past, Clowe has touted the involvement of outsiders as a show of openness and a first in the agency's 12-year history.

'Conflict of interest'

Several of the members said they were surprised to have been appointed, including watchdog Nettles, who publishes the Garland-based newsletter The Lotto Report.

After initially accepting Clowe's invitation to serve, Nettles withdrew from the committee Friday, citing a conflict of interest.

"I do not see how I can go up there and partake in interviewing prospective directors and then come home and report on it," Nettles said. "I don't think that's ethical."

Nettles helped expose the inflated Texas Lotto jackpots last month when she filed a complaint with the attorney general.

Greer later admitted approving a June 8 estimated jackpot of $8 million recommended by his staff, even though Lotto sales would support only $6.5 million.

Greer had said he trusted his staff's recommendation and didn't examine the form carefully.

The lottery's own investigation found three other instances of inflated jackpots.

Gerald Busald, a math professor at San Antonio College, said he was honored and a bit surprised that commissioners chose him, especially after he criticized them at their last meeting for allowing a culture of secrecy to prevail at the agency.

"They're trying to open up the process so that they're less likely to be criticized if the next one should flame and burn," Busald said. "My only hope is that the best possible happens and that we do get a person with integrity who could help change the culture of the commission.

"You need someone in there, not only to have high moral character, but they're strong enough to stand up and change it if it's not right."

The search committee could begin interviewing candidates as early as September, Busald said, and help identify three to five candidates for the commission to consider.

Busald said his students were instrumental in getting the lottery to change fine print on scratch-off tickets that referred to customers who broke even as "winners."

And, Busald said, the lottery changed advertisements touting an average of $75,000 for Cash Five winners after his students calculated the average amount as $57,575.

More openness

Others appointed to the committee include:

  • The executive director of the State Bar of Texas.
  • A Texas Ethics Commission member.
  • Two former lottery commissioners and a lottery employee.
  • A representative of the charitable bingo industry.
  • The president of the Texas Grocery & Convenience Association.

One of the former commissioners, Anthony Sadberry, was involved in hiring the first three lottery directors.

Sadberry, a Houston attorney, said Friday that nothing was wrong with the old process. But he said the involvement of citizens creates more opportunity for transparency.

"I think this shows that it's opened up," Sadberry said. "The public should hold us responsible to do our jobs. There's no reason why this shouldn't result in a good selection."

Houston Chronicle

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23 comments. Last comment 11 years ago by LOTTOMIKE.
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Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
Chief Bottle Washer
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Posted: July 24, 2005, 4:33 pm - IP Logged

Here's my opinion on this:  Nettles is full of it.  Here she had an opportunity to do some good, and the Texas Lottery was finally reaching out the her.  What does she do?  She turns tail and runs.

Sorry, but that is just pathetic.  The excuse of conflict of interest is ridiculous and transparent.

This whole thing is about her protecting A#1 (herself), and shows her interest in being a "watchdog", as she's been called, is all about trying to achieve notoriety, rather than watching out for people.

Saying that she could not be a "watchdog" after participating on the selection committee is far-flung and unbelievable.  She would actually just be scared to criticize the Lottery after participating, which in turn would hurt her little newsletter.

Like I said, she finally had a chance to do some good, instead of just criticizing what others do.

The Texas Lottery was smart for appointing her.  By doing so, they exposed her true colors.

 

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    Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
    Chief Bottle Washer
    New Jersey
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    Posted: July 24, 2005, 4:36 pm - IP Logged

    Texas Lottery: here's another one for you.  If you want an industry outsider who will tell you like it is, and not run when you come calling, send me an e-mail. 

    I'll say "yes", and I won't feel bad about reporting about the Texas Lottery afterwards.

     

    Check the State Lottery Report Card
    What grade did your lottery earn?

     

    Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
    Help eliminate computerized drawings!

      BobP's avatar - bobp avatar.png
      Dump Water Florida
      United States
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      Posted: July 25, 2005, 12:01 am - IP Logged

      Conflict of interest doesn't make sense to me.  It's easy to complain. The only one we have to be honest with is ourselves.  When called to serve within one's area of expertise it's time to stand up or get out of the complaint business.  The only problem would be if you had to sign you wouldn't talk / write about what went on, I don't see mention of that kind of conflict.  Hey Dawn, who better then you to help keep the lottery honest?  Who do you think they should have given the job to, eh?

      BobP

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        New Mexico
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        Posted: July 25, 2005, 9:08 am - IP Logged

        Might be she had designs on the job and figured being on the selection committee would be a roadblock...  Never can tell what goes on in the mind of a human being.

        Jack 

          bobby623's avatar - abstract
          San Angelo, Texas
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          Posted: July 25, 2005, 1:03 pm - IP Logged

          In defense of Dawn Nettles.

          Folks who live here in Texas appreciate the fact that she attends every lottery commission meeting. She speaks for the players. Over the years, she has been insulted and mistreated by a lottery staff, including the commission, that has been trying to shut her up for a long time.

          One technique the commission uses is to make a quick change in order of business almost every time she leaves the room for personal reasons. Further, they often deny or delay her requests for information that is readily available to other media and the public.

          Not many people would put up with the crap she has, especially from Crowe.

          Recently, there was a report that one of the commissioners attended a meeting where Lotto Texas jackpots were discussed.

          Commissioners Crowe and Cox should have resigned same day Greer stepped down. They have condoned or approved everything the lottery staff had done to maximize state profits while minimizing prize pay outs. They favor computer drawings and will no doubt support them when the next director proposes it.

          Folks who think there will be a change in the way the lottery does things are going to be disappointed. While the selection committee has been expanded, which is a good thing, in the end Crowe, Cox and the other commissioner will meet in secret and choose the person they think will maintain the status quo.

          I think Dawn knows this and rightfully decided to stand back. The players will need her voice down the road.

          Also, in Texas, publishers, editors, reporters are not members of any government body. They observe and report, whether its a monster like the Dallas Morning News or a simple news letter.



           

           

            Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
            Chief Bottle Washer
            New Jersey
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            Posted: July 25, 2005, 1:37 pm - IP Logged

            Being on the "selection committee" would not make her a part of the government, because, as far as I know, she would not be paid.

            There is no true conflict of interest.

            If anything, being on the inside of the committee would allow her to more easily and accurately report if there was any shenanigans going on.  For example, if they secretly met and ignored the committee's findings, as you suggested, she could accurately report on this.  If she's standing on the outside looking in, it's mere conjecture about a conspiracy theory.

            It's a noble thing to stand up for people, especially against a big government machine like the lottery, but if you're not prepared to do what is necessary when the time comes, then I don't think you're doing all you can.

            She had a rare opportunity to do something great, and she backed away.

            That's my opinion, based upon my principles; I'm sure there are others who may disagree.

             

            Check the State Lottery Report Card
            What grade did your lottery earn?

             

            Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
            Help eliminate computerized drawings!

              bobby623's avatar - abstract
              San Angelo, Texas
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              Posted: July 25, 2005, 2:19 pm - IP Logged

              There is no conspiracy theory here.

              Because it is a personnel matter, the lottery commission will meet behind closed doors. They have no legal obligation to explain their action to anyone. This is routine stuff in Texas.

              In the past, any attempt by the media to learn how the committee reached  a decision were brushed aside on grounds that personnel decisions are confidential. This was particularly true when Greer was selected, given the fact that the qualifications had to be lowered in order for him to qualify.

              As an aside, the lottery staff wasn't  too pleased when Greer got the job, over Gary Grief, who has been with the lottery for a long time.

              None of the selection members will be present during the closed meeting. Their job at the moment is to come up with 5 nominees. Once that is done, the commission will take over and decide, in what is best described as a secret meeting.

              Too bad if the selection committee doesn't like their final choice!

               

                Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
                Chief Bottle Washer
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                Posted: July 25, 2005, 3:19 pm - IP Logged

                Well, I don't think anyone has made a final choice, so I don't know where you're coming from.

                Look, I understand you are being loyal to Nettles, but there's no need to carry that loyalty into a dispute of every single thing I'm saying, just to try to back her up.

                I never said there was a conspiracy theory.  In fact, I don't think there is one.  But you need to understand that some people perceive some things as a conspiracy theory when they're based less on facts and more on opinion.  People naturally hold different opinions about things.

                If Nettles was on that committee she would be in a better position to report facts, and no matter what your loyalties are to her, you cannot dispute that truth.

                If you have some kind of documentation proving that the Texas Lottery will ignore the findings of the selection committee, than by all means cough it up.  Otherwise, please label your comments as opinion, which is what they are.

                If you check my posts above, you will see that's what I have done, because I am not the sole holder of facts, as you are not.

                 

                Check the State Lottery Report Card
                What grade did your lottery earn?

                 

                Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
                Help eliminate computerized drawings!

                  konane's avatar - wallace
                  Atlanta, GA
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                  Posted: July 25, 2005, 3:41 pm - IP Logged

                  Might be she had designs on the job and figured being on the selection committee would be a roadblock...  Never can tell what goes on in the mind of a human being.

                  Jack 

                     I Agree!      

                  Good luck to everyone!

                    LOTTOMIKE's avatar - cash money.jpg
                    Tennessee
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                    Posted: July 25, 2005, 9:05 pm - IP Logged

                    i hope they don't lure rebecca paul away from tennessee,lol

                      Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
                      Chief Bottle Washer
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                      Posted: July 25, 2005, 9:29 pm - IP Logged

                      i hope they don't lure rebecca paul away from tennessee,lol

                      That is certainly a possibility, although I don't think she'd want the headaches.

                       

                      Check the State Lottery Report Card
                      What grade did your lottery earn?

                       

                      Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
                      Help eliminate computerized drawings!

                        LOTTOMIKE's avatar - cash money.jpg
                        Tennessee
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                        Posted: July 25, 2005, 9:32 pm - IP Logged

                        i think the only way they would absolutely get her would be a very huge salary,sometimes that can help the headaches!Big Smile

                          RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
                          mid-Ohio
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                          Posted: July 25, 2005, 9:45 pm - IP Logged

                          If Texas is willing to offer the same kind of money that Tennessee offered to lured her from Georgia, they'll get plenty of good applicants, but it may just be another political appointment.

                          RJOh

                           * you don't need to buy more tickets, just buy a winning ticket * 
                             
                                       Evil Looking       

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                            Posted: July 26, 2005, 3:46 am - IP Logged

                            I'll gladly take the job if they offered to me. It's a job I'd enjoy, and I need a job.

                            (insert signature here)