The Hodgepodge Page
Texas Lottery News ... Read all about it here ...
Oct 14, 2003 - Thought I'd let those of you from California know that if you bought lotto tickets on Sunday, Oct. 5, 2003 - between 6 AM & 9:42 AM - that your ticket shows your tickets are good for the Saturday Oct. 11, 2003 drawing - not the Oct 8th draw as it should have been.
This is a G-Tech computer ERROR. However, California has decided to honor those tickets for both draws now. I see this as a nightmare - especially for those who do not check their tickets regularly. What makes matters even worse is that the California Lottery doesn't even have anything posted on their web site.
The timing on this is ironic because of what I posted on Oct 9th about "G-Tech's errors." Please, believe me when I tell you that you need to check your own tickets because the terminals err - and, as evidenced by the latest California ordeal, so do the programmers.
One more quick thing - for those of you who have asked if I plan to offer you a way to purchase California or Ohio Pick3 tickets, the answer is no. I think most of you forget that my web site is "world wide." Don's picks will be for players in those states. While I've always had visitors and comments from everywhere, I have even more now that I began covering PowerBall and Mega Millions. I'll probably do a separate page for the other states Pick 3 games so it won't effect Don's Texas page. OK?
Oct. 9, 2003 - It's been a while since I posted "the latest" for ya'll and I sincerely apologize for my delays. I do have several good reasons - One is the time I have for research and the other is that everything I have to say is so disturbing for me that it's taken me a while to get the courage to tell these things. You'll see why as you read what all I've learned in the last couple of months. I'm going to start with news about lottery staff members - you know, those people who put "integrity" above all else or so they say ....
Bart Sanchez vs Daniel Benjamin -
That's right. Documents show that Mr. Daniel Benjamin, Budget Supervisor, went to the Human Resources Director, Mr. Jim Richardson on his own and confessed that he lied when asked, during a LAR hearing (legislative appropriations hearing) in Sept. 2002, "if the TLC had taken "fringe benefits" out of the TLC's budget."
Mr. Benjamin explained that he lied at the instruction of his boss, Mr. Bart Sanchez, who WAS the Financial Administration Director. Mr. Benjamin stated that he felt he was "forced to lie" and if he wanted to get promoted and stay employed, he had better not make anyone look bad at the LAR hearing.
In his Dec 2002 confession, Mr. Benjamin said, "we are exposed here with this double dipping and the benefits issue. The exposure here is that you are lying. Because by increasing the base with the benefits dollars in there, you can ask for more money. Bart told me to hide it because we [TLC] need to get our expenditures up."
Mr. Benjamin had a conscience, was afraid he'd lose his job if this "hidden money" was ever caught ... so he went to Human Resources and literally told on his boss [Bart Sanchez]. Documents also show that Mr. Benjamin's fears would have come to pass because Bart was plenty mad when he found out that this ordeal had been exposed. Bart stated that after the internal investigation was completed, and after he [Bart] was cleared, Mr. Benjamin would definitely have to go because he was not a team player.
Bart Sanchez is no longer with the TLC. He resigned. Mr. Benjamin is still employed at the Texas Lottery.
Please notice - if you read the Commissioners Jan 2003 transcript - that it's all praises regarding the budget cuts [finance] and jobs well done even though they knew about these allegations and Bart Sanchez "resigned" on Feb 7, 2003 - one week after this meeting. Then during the Feb commissioners meeting, Bart's name is never mentioned yet he was a top executive who instructed his staff to hide money. He answered to the Executive Director.
This incident really rubbed me the wrong way because my sister-in-law works for Child Protective Services - a state agency that doesn't have enough money or sufficient staffing to protect kids from abuse but CPS reduced their budgets.
But Texas' "gambling state agency" hides money, lies to us and our legislators, gives the consumer games of chance with unreasonable odds of winning, offers prize payouts that players don't want and opposed, breaks the law in "considering comment" on rule changes, advertises heavily how many "winners" there were just to entice consumer spending and in hopes that it will increase the unclaimed prize fund. In those ads and emails you see, hear and receive, they fail to disclose that 95% of those "70,000 winners" won $2, $3 & $5.
CPS is an agency that tries to protect children - yet a $3 billion state run gambling agency provides NO ONE to protect lottery consumers - in fact - as we all have seen with the latest 5/44 & 1/44 rule change - even our "voted in" legislators wouldn't speak up for their constituents and our legislators had the audacity to take away our rights to be heard. This is unconstitutional. They did this so the lottery could "legally" adopt whatever rules and changes they wanted without breaking the law. Bottom line, our elected officials want additional revenues at any costs - morale or immoral, fair or unfair and so does the Texas Lottery.
About Keith Elkins -
During the Jan 31, 2003 meeting, which was the meeting where they agreed to propose changing Lotto Texas again, Gary Grief said, "On January 13th, Keith and his staff hand-delivered copies of the demographic study, along with a cover letter from Keith, highlighting the significant findings to members of the Capital Press Corps. And a similar series of e-mails and faxes were also sent to the statewide media organizations advising them of the availability of the study and also that the study was also available on our agency web site. In addition, Keith's staff prepared a video news release on the results of the study, and that was also released to the media."
The key to Gary's statement is the well known fact that Keith Elkins had an excellent rapport with the media so having "a letter from Keith," was like having an endorsement - so to speak. No matter what our differences were, Keith did well as the "spokesperson" for the TLC. He came across well on camera and he had an excellent voice - of course, he should have those qualities - that's what he spent years training to do. But what's even more important, if he said something, the media printed it. An invaluable asset for the TLC.
Now using my common sense and knowing all of this about Keith, the timing for them to "terminate" Keith was extremely suspicious. You see, the TLC had received thousands and thousands of comments of opposition regarding changing Lotto Texas - even the legislators were calling the TLC - so common sense says that it was imperative that the TLC be able to combat consumer dissatisfaction with the press and Keith Elkins had that ability. The TLC knew it too ... so why would they "terminate" him at this critical time when they needed his talent the most? Remember, he did not "quit," he was fired.
I knew that if I waited long enough, I'd find out what "really" happened and that's when I'd fill you in or comment on the subject of Keith. Well, in June or early July 2003, in a conversation with a fellow journalist, I got my hot tip. I was asked if I had seen all of the open records requests Keith had made since his departure from the TLC. "WOW," I thought, "Now I get to find out."
It was suspected that when Keith found out that the TLC had already bought new machines and balls before the 5/44 rule was proposed and adopted - a clear indication that it was a "done deal" no matter what - he had a serious problem with how he would have to handle the situation. He had already eaten crow over the Cash 5 misrepresentations, he ate crow over the inaccurate data publicized to add those four balls, and he ate crow over the winners that were short-changed. Not to mention those faxes he took away from me - fellow journalists had been telling me that they kept asking him why he just didn't re-instate those faxes to shut me up! I always loved hearing that one. Anyway ...
If he lied to the press or denied the allegations that the balls and machines had been bought prematurely, he would jeopardize his reputation "again" as a journalist and as the official lottery spokesperson, how could he possibly combat this issue publicly IF, in fact, the TLC really had made those early purchases. You know, he really was between a rock and a hard place.
Now everything was beginning to make perfect sense to me. So, on July 8, I made an open records request and obtained copies of Keith's open records requests and they told the "real" story. I saw first hand what his objectives were and it wasn't difficult to put two and two together. He simply butted heads with upper management and got fired because he objected to being placed in "another" bad situation.
The bottom line is - I think Keith Elkins was terminated because he objected to "covering up" another indiscretion that had been committed by the TLC. Keith knew that I had discovered the TLC spent $56,000 for "5 sets of 54 balls" BEFORE the rule was ever adopted. I don't think he wanted to face that hurdle again and you know what, I respect him for that.
Just in case you don't remember, the 1999 proposed rule was ultimately withdrawn so instead of earning interest on that $56,000, it required storage space for 10 months. As you know, adding 4 balls was re-proposed in March 2000 and it too was another "done deal." After all, it required "questionable documents" generously provided by G-Tech to get the rule passed "legally."
For the record - If my theories are on target about Keith, then Keith has grounds to sue the TLC. It'll be interesting to see if he does. You can bet I'd have a front row seat in the court room!
Another "EX" TLC Employee ... Robert Kohler Sues The TLC
Robert started working at the TLC, in the mailroom, in April 1992. He was ultimately promoted, promoted, promoted ... and was eventually named "Contract and Special Projects Manager." In this position, he reported directly to the Executive Director and his job was to monitor contracts for compliance for purchasing, procurement laws, rules and regulations of the State of Texas - basically, he was to ensure that all contracts were conducted and awarded properly and if he found one that wasn't, it was his job to "snitch."
You guessed it - he found two wrongdoings - one involved not having a bond and the other involved a $300,000 NEW legal contract. Robert did his job - he reported it. But guess whose path he crossed? General Counsel Kim Kiplin. Whoa ....
Documents reveal that Robert alleges a "blatant retaliation" for reporting possible illegal activities ... suddenly he began receiving reprimands for insubordination, he claims he worked in a "hostile" environment, began receiving bad performance reviews, they changed his hours, moved his office, he got demoted, was accused of not being a "team player" and,
The papers also state that Kim Kiplin told him that he was "inciting a situation that did not need inciting" and threatened his employment by stating that he was a "bigger problem."
So just exactly what did he discover? One was a current contract holder, Daven Group, was suppose to provide a performance bond in the amount of $500,000 but the firm had never provided the bond to the Commission. This was a violation of their contract. The service Daven Group provides is an integrated financial management system that tracks and reports on lottery financial transactions processed by G-Tech.
When Robert reported this, he was told to "cool his jets." This was in Sept. or Oct 2002.
Next, as best as I can tell, a few months later (Jan 2003), Robert found where the TLC entered into a new $300,000 legal contract with Meyertons Hood Kivlin & Goetzel without obtaining competitive bids first. The new contact covered services from Jan 1, 2003 through Aug 31, 2003. The TLC had never had a contract with this firm and their contract with Conley, Rose & Tayon ran from Sept. 1, 2002 through August 31, 2003.
Documents show that during a meeting on Jan 28, 2003, TLC staff supposedly indicated that the Attorney General's office had approved the new contract and that was why the TLC didn't obtain competitive bids. I have a hard time understanding this one - the rules are the rules - how can they just make exceptions to the written laws and rules?
Now here's what I think really happened ... Dwayne Goetzel, who was with the firm that had the original legal contract, moved to a new law firm and managed to get a new contract to provide legal work for the TLC without going through the bidding process. Folks, this is wrong. The TLC tells me every day, "Dawn, you know the procedures."
Incidentally, in Dec 2001, Dwayne Goetzel who was then with Conley, Rose & Tayon, was THE lawyer who tried to "bully" fellow web site owners out of their domain names for the TLC. It's no wonder the TLC wants to keep him.
If you could read the papers I have on all this, you would be shocked to see how they retaliated against poor Robert. And you know what, I believe him because they've been doing this to me for the past 6 years.
He is calling for a trial by jury and I hope he gets it but my guess is the TLC will pay him off or settle just to shut him up so the press won't cover the story. This lawsuit was filed in Travis County on July 14, 2003 and is Cause #GN302463.
If you wanted to obtain these documents or any of the documents mentioned above, you can always make an Open Records request and the TLC would have to send them to you. This IS pubic information.
Toni Smith, Marketing Director & Her Assistant Resign
An interesting aspect to this was what the press wasn't told. Not only did Toni resign, but so did her assistant, Brenda Flores. Oooops, I'm sorry, I forgot - her assistant had a new title. She was the "Creative Multi Media Manager" and rumor has it that they were literally escorted out of the building Tuesday. I called the TLC yesterday (Wednesday) to ask who the Marketing Director was and who the Creative Multi Media Manager was. They confirmed that Toni was gone but failed to confirm or give a name as to who the Creative Multi Media Manager was. Imagine that.
Hustler, G-Tech, Quick Picks
At this point, I want to tell you NOT to buy Quick Picks and do NOT ask your retailer to check your tickets for you. Check them yourself - the lottery terminals & store clerks err in reading tickets. As for the reason that I'm telling you not to buy Quick Picks - I can only give you a partial answer at this time.
For years I've taken complaints from players who repeatedly say that they always get duplicate numbers when buying QP. For the most part, I have passed this off as just "random numbers and rotten luck on the players part."
However, about two or three months ago, I received some information, from what I consider a very reliable source, that was extremely disturbing about the Quick Pick process and "programming software." Since then I have learned that there is no such thing as having a computer or program that would generate truly "random" numbers.
Why not just pick your own "random" numbers using a playslip. Shoot, draw numbers out of a hat, buy the sibkkc.ru or something - just quit buying Quick Picks. Don't be fooled into thinking that Quick Picks produces the most winners. 95% of all tickets sold are Quick Picks so it only stands to reason that those would out number the self picked winning tickets.
FYI - The only things that are official now is that (1) too many tickets contain duplicate numbers and (2) we've found that some "official reports" contain errors that should be impossible to contain because they are computer generated. Have you ever seen an excel spreadsheet make a mistake unless you typed in the wrong formula?
As many of you already know, I've been collecting old Lotto, Cash5, Texas 2 Step and Texas Million tickets. For those of you who did not know this, if you still have old QUICK PICK tickets, please, send them to me. And instead of throwing your future tickets away, I wish that you would send them to me for our research.
It doesn't matter if they do or do not have duplicate numbers - I'm collecting just Quick Picks though. Understand, this is for research. Maybe nothing will come of it but then again, maybe something will come of it. Either way, do you really want tickets that contain 2 or 3 of the same numbers on all the lines?
My address is at the bottom of this page and let me take a second to thank those of you who have already filled my mailbox with old tickets. We are learning from them and we can't have too many.
By the way, it is OK to mail lotto tickets. It is true that it is in the postal regulations that it is illegal, however, the postmaster general doesn't know why it's in their postal regulations. It is not enforceable because every lottery in the US has instructions on how to collect a winning ticket and they instruct you to mail them in. So this is one foolish law and it has never been enforced.
About Mega Million and why I won't support this game
If I couldn't pick 5 out of 39; 5 out of 37; 6 out of 50; 6 out of 54; 5 out of 44 then 1 out of another 44; 4 out of 35 and 1 out of another 35; then how could I possibly expect to pick 5 out of 52 and 1 out of another 52 balls? I've come to realize that the states have done nothing more than to give us a game we can't win and have converted their "winners stories," which entices sales, to those FEW who manage to have 5 of the 6 numbers. And I do mean a FEW. When you consider they sell 10 to 30 million tickets and only 1 to 15 people "might" hold a 5 of 6 winning ticket, well, that tells the story right there.
Further angering me, the Governor took away my right to speak (HB3459), the TLC has cheated winners, lied, and they have too much "legal" freedom - did you know that they don't even have a policy written stating how they will determine how much of the prize pool to invest on behalf of a lotto winner who has selected annual pay? Talk about something that should be set in stone - but it's not - WHY?
I don't "gamble" to "win" $2, $3, $5, $7 or $10. If I risk spending my money on games of chance, I want a chance to win more than what these games offer. The TLC is taking the "players share of sales" and disbursing the majority of those funds for these so called "prizes." Not only that, but they are suppose to return a set percentage of sales to the players, but they don't and haven't. This is why you see the games going to "guaranteed prizes" - this is how they make even more money while pretending they give back 50% of sales.
And no one is holding them accountable so I'll be damned if I'll contribute my hard earned money to the state in way of a "voluntary tax" to help them balance their budget. And I can assure you, our legislators are banking on those "voluntary contributions" - lucky for me - this is one tax or fee that IS voluntary and I can stop donating - which I have. If I were to ever buy a ticket, I promise you, I would only buy ONE ($1) because that's all I'd need to win. I firmly believe in God and I firmly believe in destiny.
So you still want the 6/50 Lotto Texas game back and what can we do?
So, besides our legislators and the Governor who could simply "ask" them to rescind the rule - in which case the TLC would do it - District Attorney Ronnie Earl is the only entity that has the authority to hold state agencies accountable. I've been told he would pursue the issue if complaints were filed with the Public Integrity Unit so I will post a form and we will begin the process next week.
I really have more to cover but I think this is more than enough for today. I'm tired and you're probably tired of reading! I will be posting some of your comments which is long overdue, the transcript from the Sept 11, 2003 meeting (with my comments), a form for the District Attorney for you to complete, and more news that I've not covered yet.
Continued....click here to read more