Read About The Top Candidate For The
Executive Directors Job at the Texas Lottery
Impartial choice promised for lottery job
Heflin to Seek Re-Election ...
The Heflins: An Immigrants Tale
House of Bad Hair ...
Wanted: Lottery Boss With Slim Resume, No Experience ...
Lottery Commission Hopeful Heflin Has Disturbing Gambling Ties ...
Search committee to consider former lawmaker's application ...
Originally Posted: Nov 18, 2005
Revised: Nov 27, 2005 - Added Ken Rodriguez Story
Revised: Nov 28, 2005 - Added House of Bad Hair
Revised: Nov 29, 2005 - Added The Heflins: An Immigrants Tale
Revised: Dec 5, 2005 - Added Heflin to Seek Re-election
Revised: Dec 8, 2005 - Added Impartial choice promised for lottery job
Bonus Ball Out - New Lotto Rule Proposed Nov 18, 2005
BUT, does it offer fair payouts?
- Editors Note -
Today (Dec 5, 2005) Mr. Heflin announced
Now read the following stories ...
Impartial choice promised for lottery job
By JOHN MORITZ
AUSTIN -- The chairman of the Texas Lottery Commission said Wednesday that politics will play no part in whether a powerful ex-lawmaker is hired to run the beleaguered state agency.
Former state Rep. Talmadge Heflin, a Houston Republican who lost his bid for a 12th term by a scant 16 votes last year, was an 11th-hour entry into the hunt to replace former director Reagan Greer after Lottery Commission Chairman C. Thomas Clowe encouraged him to apply last month. At least eight other applicants had made it to the final round of interviews before Heflin was asked to apply.
Clowe, who with fellow Commissioner Jim Cox conducts the final interviews and will ultimately decide whom to hire for the $115,000-a-year job, said Wednesday that no one applicant should be considered a front-runner. He also said that any suggestion that Heflin, former chairman of the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee, is being considered because of perceived political connections would be misplaced.
"I don't owe anybody anything with this decision," Clowe said. ``All I am interested in is that we get the best person in that position to take the agency to the next level. No one has asked me to consider his application and no one has suggested to me that I am under any obligation to hire him."
Heflin, who as Appropriations Committee chairman in 2003 spearheaded the Legislature's efforts to bridge a $9.9 billion budget shortfall without raising state taxes, did not return calls seeking comment. But Clowe said that he hoped that both he and Cox could interview the ex-lawmaker before the next Lottery Commission meeting Dec. 15. The commission is a three-member panel, but one position is vacant.
Clowe said Heflin would have to abandon any thoughts of running for his old House seat if he accepts the lottery post.
Whoever gets the job will take over an agency that has been mired in controversy for much of the past six months. Greer resigned after the Star-Telegram reported in June that he had approved advertising a jackpot for the Lotto Texas game that could not have been supported by ticket sales. It later came to light that advertised jackpots had been inflated on several other occasions.
Lottery officials have also been in an ongoing dispute with a former computer analyst for the agency over whether the lottery's $3 million disaster recovery center, nicknamed "the bunker," is capable of taking over operations if a calamity shuts down lottery headquarters in downtown Austin.
Shelton Charles, a 10-year lottery employee before being fired last month, told a legislative panel that computers and other high-tech equipment at the disaster recovery center were either inoperative or inadequate to support the agency in an emergency. Lottery officials called before the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee, disputed Charles' allegations, but they were unable to say exactly when the site was up and running.
But officials notified the committee's staff this week that the disaster site has been operational since July 1999. Charles, whose job description had included monitoring conditions at the disaster site, said the claim was false. The committee is still examining the matter.
Critics have pointed out that Heflin opposed the creation of the state lottery in 1991 and has no experience running gaming operations. But state Rep. Delwin Jones, a Lubbock Republican, said the lottery needs someone with Heflin's stature to restore the Legislature's confidence in the agency that raises about $1 billion a year for the state treasury.
"We need someone over there who can give us a straight answer to all these questions," Jones said. "I don't think we are always getting that now from that agency. I would be very comfortable with Talmadge heading it up."
Clowe said no action will be taken on the matter until he is certain that the right candidate has been found.
"Haste is really not what's important here," he said. "Making the right decision is the important matter."
HEFLIN WILL SEEK TO RECAPTURE HOUSE DISTRICT 149
(But ... but ... he's interviewing for the TLC Executive Directors job on Dec 6, 2005.
Former Appropriations chairman to run for House seat Former state Rep. Talmadge Heflin (R-Houston) confirmed this morning he will run in 2006 for the Legislature.
"I still have work to do. I still can represent the district well and get some other things accomplished, so I'm putting my hat back in the ring," he said.
Allen Blakemore is likely to consult for the campaign, Heflin said. Filing for a place on the ballot is open through Jan. 2, and Heflin said he hasn't decided yet on a date.
The Heflins: An Immigrant's Tale
By Josh Harkinson
Katamba, who lacks a green card, was allegedly hired as a live-in worker in the home of the veteran Republican legislator to take care of Gram, his mother-in-law. Beginning in July 2003, she says, she was paid $100 a week in cash for feeding and cleaning up after the house-bound octogenarian. The under-the-table salary gave the single mother a chance to care for her baby, Fidel Odimara Jr., while she worked.
"Things were going well when I moved in the house," says Katamba, who speaks limited English. "I was happy because I was with my son every time. I could take a look at him and take care of him."
Despite the low pay, Katamba came to feel integrated into the Heflin home. The devout Baptist household also held two of Heflin's nieces -- adopted, at least temporarily, from their parents -- and his sister-in-law, Judy Hall, who had no children. Hall and the Heflins began calling Fidel Jr. "Jude."
But Katamba, who is in her forties, eventually realized she was less popular with the Heflins than her son was. Gram didn't like her because she was black, she says, and in November, the Heflins told her they could no longer afford to pay her. Even so, they offered her continued lodging in the storage room, and said they would look after her son while she worked elsewhere.
Katamba found another off-the-books job paying $250 for an 85-hour week caring for patients in a home for the mentally disabled. She saw her son Wednesday and Friday mornings, and also planned to see him on weekends.
After her first week, however, she returned to the house to find the Heflins had taken Fidel Jr. to Austin. They did the same the next week. She told them to drop her son off at her job before they left, or allow his father, Fidel Odimara, to pick him up. But every weekend, she came home and her son was gone. "They would always have an excuse for why they took him," she says.
The Heflins quickly became possessive of Fidel Jr. In addition to keeping him in their bedroom, they offered to buy him milk, arguing that the milk Katamba received through WIC wasn't good enough, she says. And Hall attended many of Fidel's hospital visits, telling the doctor the boy's name was Jude.
On a Wednesday in mid-July, Katamba asked the Heflins to bring her son to her workplace. She says they arrived without him, and instead dropped off two documents for her to sign. They told her the documents were "not legal" and would simply allow them to make medical decisions for her son in the event of an emergency, she says.
The papers looked far from informal, however. One waived Katamba's right to testify before a child custody court; the other appointed the Heflins "co-sole managing conservators" of her child. Katamba later showed them to her boss. "He told me, 'This paper means they are taking away your son from you.' "
The next day, Katamba told the Heflins she would not sign the papers. She finished work on Friday, emerged from her room Saturday and asked for her son so she could take him to Chuck E. Cheese's. The Heflins told her they would have to go with Fidel Jr. on all outings. Katamba said, "I don't think you can tell me what to do with my son."
A confrontation ensued. Heflin's wife, Janice, now demanded that Katamba sign the papers. When she refused, she says Janice Heflin told her, "Okay, let's meet in court with your green card."
"I told her, 'I don't have a green card,' " Katamba says, " 'but I have rights to my son.' "
Katamba left and stayed with a Ugandan friend, Grace, whose last name she withholds. "I couldn't even talk," she recalls. "I was just crying. I cried, like, 30 minutes, and then I tried to explain to her" what had happened.
In many regions of Africa, including Katamba's native Uganda, leaving one's child in the care of neighbors is normal. "It's the concept of 'It takes a village,' " says Katamba's attorney, Jolanda Jones. Men and elders also hold exalted positions in Ugandan society, she adds, which is why it took Katamba a long time to stand up to Heflin.
On the following Monday, Katamba called a caseworker at Ben Taub Hospital and explained the situation. Her son was scheduled for a doctor's visit that afternoon, and the caseworker pledged to help. When Heflin showed up with her son an hour late, Katamba asked him three times to hand over the toddler before he begrudgingly complied, she says. The doctor refused to allow Heflin and Hall to enter his examining room with Katamba. They waited outside, she says, and left only when the caseworker threatened to call security.
The battle over the boy had only just begun.
A few days later, Janice Heflin filed a petition asking Family District Judge Linda Motheral for custody of the child. Such requests are typically granted in only the most extreme cases, where it can be shown the natural parents pose grave physical danger to a child's well-being. In affidavits, the only bits of evidence the Heflins marshaled were speculations that the child, who suffered mild asthma, might be exposed to cigarette smoke, and Katamba might return with him to Uganda or Nigeria. They also said Odimara had assaulted Katamba, a claim she denies.
Even so, the order was granted without giving Katamba even a chance to weigh in, and a police officer knocked on Grace's door a few days later and seized young Fidel.
Fearing the worst from the Heflins, Katamba quit her job.
The first custody hearing over the boy sparked a media frenzy in August. The Heflins claimed Katamba had shown little interest in the child, and that Odimara beat the boy's feet together to punish him for not learning to walk. They also said Katamba had abandoned two other children in Uganda.
In a recent interview, Harry Tindall, the Heflins' attorney, further disputed Katamba's story. He said the Heflins never paid her to care for Gram or threatened her regarding her immigration status. They took her son to Austin on the weekends only because she was rarely around him. And they asked her to sign over custody, he added, because she said she planned to take a job in New Jersey and had asked them to raise Fidel Jr.
The Heflins "helped a woman in need," Tindall says. "They invited this woman into their home as a guest, to help her get back on her feet."
But Katamba says she now believes the Heflins tricked her. She has only one other child, Hakim, who is in the care of his father, her ex-husband Mahmood Ibrahim, a nurse in Germany, she says. And she never planned to move to New Jersey and leave her son. She says the Heflins created these lies and exploited her cultural differences in a calculated effort to steal her son.
Judge Motheral conducted three hearings and refused to rule on Jones's motion to dismiss the case. Then, in an unusual move, the judge independently dismissed it on her own motion. Jones discovered the news through the media. She thinks the Republican Party may have pressured Heflin to give up the fight to avoid political fallout.
"This whole thing reeks of influence," she says. "It reeks of the exercise of power without regard to the consequences of anything."
Katamba is just happy to have her child back. On a recent afternoon, she sat with Jones in her law office while Fidel Jr. boisterously played with a plastic telephone and a stuffed alligator. At one point, while Jones held the boy, he began aggressively pointing his finger as if lecturing his elders. It's just one of the unruly behaviors the boy picked up from the Heflins, who never disciplined him, Katamba says.
Nonetheless, life is looking up for Katamba and her son. Although jobless, she's receiving support from her new boyfriend, a U.S. citizen who has offered to marry her.
The ordeal has taught Katamba a lesson about people in America who claim to be devout Christians. "Just because they are for Jesus," she says, "doesn't mean I can trust them."
But despite the discriminatory undertones of the Heflins' claims on her child, Katamba is keeping an open mind. "Every country you live in, there are good people and bad people," she says. "So I can't blame all Americans." --
House of Bad Hair
Not since Craig Washington arrived with a full-blown Afro in 1973 has any man in the State House really used his hair to make a political statement. This session, conservative Republican Talmadge Heflins tonsorial excess is a statement of some kind but nobody seems certain what the rotund Republican from Houston is trying to say. If you can be said to "spin" bad hair, hes even done that recently, appearing in dreadlocks on the day the House voted to make dreadlocked Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams an honorary Texan. After Ricky Williams Day, Heflin went straight, but he has yet to cut his hair. "All Im saying," Heflin told Left Field, "is that I got one bad haircut and I decided Im not going to pay somebody to make me look bad. Anyone who thinks Im now a liberal Republican can watch my light to see how I vote." to read story.
Ken Rodriguez: Wanted: Lottery boss with slim résumé, no experience
Web Posted: 11/27/2005 12:00 AM CST
Talmadge Heflin is an odd candidate to lead the scandal-plagued Texas Lottery.
When the job of executive director opened, Heflin yawned.
When applications poured in, Heflin napped.
When a search committee winnowed an applicant pool of more than 120 to four, Heflin snored.
Not a peep was heard from Heflin until the 11th hour.
Then lottery commission chairman Tom Clowe asked him to apply, and Heflin must have rubbed his eyes hard.
You want me to do what?
I don't know if those were Heflin's precise words he did not return messages but there might have been shock.
In reading over Heflin's five-page application form, I was struck by what's missing.
A college degree, for example. Heflin completed one semester at Louisiana Tech in 1958.
The Texas Lottery wants a leader with more than a high school diploma. But Heflin has less college experience than the previous executive director. Reagan Greer at least had an associate's degree.
Other things are missing from Heflin's application.
Like this quote from 1995, when Heflin was a state representative: "Wherever you have lottery ticket sales, you'll have a bookie joint excuse me, an off-track betting parlor."
That's a curious view from someone who wants to lead a billion-dollar gambling agency.
Also missing from the Heflin application: His stated opposition to the creation of the lottery in 1991.
Fourteen years later, Heflin tells the Houston Chronicle he wants the lottery "to be effective."
Give the man credit. He's flexible enough to flip positions.
In reading the application, I got the feeling Heflin rushed. And not just because the handwriting is almost as sloppy as mine.
Somehow, Heflin forgot to mention he opposes the expansion of gambling to finance public schools.
I'm sure the lapse had nothing to do with the contrary view of the Texas Lottery, which wants to legalize video slot machines.
Another glaring omission: Heflin received almost $30,000 in campaign contributions from donors with interests in legalizing video slots.
That financial disclosure might have impressed the lottery commission.
What Heflin did include on his application was his vast experience as a Republican in the Texas House (22 years).
Also mentioned was a career in management that dates to 1979.
"I have trained hundreds of managers, supervisory through top executive level," Heflin wrote.
Under qualifications Heflin listed "basic computer skills."
Asked how many words he can type per minute, Heflin wrote, "N/A."
That could mean he doesn't want to brag. Or it could mean he can't put his hands on that darn typing test he took 47 years ago in college.
After reading the entire application form, I noticed another glaring omission. Experience running a lottery.
Apparently, Heflin has as much as I do. None.
I suppose he could say he's witnessed 14 years of lottery goofs and blunders. I suppose he also could say he has ample experience in criticizing the lottery. But thousands of Texans could say the same.
The search committee will interview Heflin on Dec. 6. That should be something.
Three of the search committee's top four applicants have college degrees. The fourth has a two-year degree.
All four have as much experience running a lottery as Heflin. But none of them has his political connections.
Maybe that explains the incompleteness of Heflin's application.
Who cares about college, qualifications and experience when you know the governor?
If Heflin sounds like he might be a political appointment, consider this: It appears he wasn't asked to apply until after commissioners Clowe and James Cox interviewed the search committee's top four candidates.
Politics aside, one more thing concerns me about Heflin's application. The guy forgot to include his address and home phone number.
If the commission decides to hire Heflin, I sure hope they know where to find him.
Lottery Commission Hopeful Heflin Has
Austin--The possible future executive director of the scandal-plagued Texas Lottery Commission would come to the job with disturbing ties to the gambling industry. Lobbyist Ralph Reed targeted then-Rep. Talmadge Heflin in 2001, when Reed and now-indicted federal lobbyist Jack Abramoff were helping to orchestrate a crackdown on Texas Indian casinos on behalf of a competing tribe in Louisiana. Heflin also took $29,392 from donors with an interest in legalizing slot machines for his failed 2004 reelection campaign.
During the 2004 election cycle, when Governor Rick Perry proposed legalizing so-called video lottery terminal slot machines (VLTs) at racetracks and Indian reservations, track and casino interests contributed $29,392 to Heflins House reelection campaignwhich he lost by 16 votes. The Lottery Commission, which recently recruited Heflin to apply to be its director, triggered a scandal last year after it hired a Las Vegas law firm that represents casinos to draft legislation to legalize VLTs in Texas. If Texas does legalize these slot machines, the Lottery Commission is expected to regulate this gambling industry.
A Lottery Commission that produces more scandals than jackpots should be going out of its way to hire a director who is free of any hint of conflict, said Texans for Public Justice Director Craig McDonald. Instead, this commission has recruited a candidate who took tens of thousands of dollars from slot-machine interests. The public needs to know, and the commission should investigate, what roleif anyHeflin had in the great Indian-gaming lobby scam that Reed and Abramoff perpetrated in Texas.
Can you imagine, the TLC fired Nora Linares because her
Search committee to consider former lawmaker's application
LIZ AUSTIN - Associated Press
AUSTIN - The Texas Lottery Commission on Friday asked the search committee vetting candidates for the agency's executive director position to consider the application submitted this week by former state Rep. Talmadge Heflin.
Commission chairman C. Thomas Clowe, who asked Heflin to apply, said he is a qualified candidate who would bring a great deal of legislative and administrative knowledge to the agency. But he insisted that Heflin hasn't secured the job yet.
"My mind is open at this point," Clowe said.
A once-powerful state representative, Heflin was defeated last year by a political newcomer in a race decided by 16 votes. Heflin had been a Texas House member since 1983 and was chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
The watchdog group Texans for Public Justice questioned Heflin's candidacy on Friday, saying he received nearly $30,000 from donors with an interest in legalizing slot machines for his failed 2004 re-election campaign.
The group also said in a statement that former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed sought Heflin's help in 2001 as he and now-indicted federal lobbyist Jack Abramoff were helping to orchestrate opposition to Texas Indian casinos on behalf of a competing tribe in Louisiana.
"A Lottery Commission that produces more scandals than jackpots should be going out of its way to hire a director who is free of any hint of conflict," Texans for Public Justice Director Craig McDonald said in the statement.
Heflin did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.
The lottery commission is trying to replace Reagan Greer, who resigned under fire in July after admitting he'd signed off on advertising Lotto Texas jackpots that were higher than ticket sales could support.
Clowe indicated Friday that he would like to hire an executive director at the commission's December meeting.
The chairman said Heflin was one of two promising candidates who submitted applications this week. The other was Florida Lottery Secretary Rebecca Dirden Mattingly, but she later withdrew hers. A Florida Lottery spokeswoman said Mattingly was out of the office and not available for comment.
Bonus Ball Out - New Lotto Rule Proposed Nov 18, 2005
BUT, does it offer fair payouts?
TX Lottery (Grief) Fires Employee With Courage ...
Executive staff lies and covers up and if employees tell anyone, they fire
them. How long is the legislature going to allow the lottery to operate
this way? We want honest government. Is that asking too much?
Houston Chronicle & Associated Press Stories
Nov 5, 2005 - Click here.
Lottery's At-Will Firings Keep Employees On Edge
Houston Chronicle - Posted 8/8/05 - Click here
(TX) Lottery Commission's personnel policies questioned (AP Wire)
& They Won The Jackpot ... Lottery money can bring mixed blessings
Posted August 4, 2005 - Click here
Lottery Troubles Everywhere & Message To TLC Employees!
Columnist's slams of Texas Lottery going unnoticed in Austin
Editorial by Ken Rodriguez - Express-News Staff Writer
Ex-Employees (Texas) Sends Video And They Request
that I relay a message to current employees - The sibkkc.ru
Click here to read all five stories
Two Stories As They Appear In
the Houston Chronicle & SA Express News
Lottery enlists help from outsiders by Lisa Falkenberg
There's still a chance for Lottery to lose even
more credibility by Ken Rodriguez
(Posted 7/23/05) Click here
E-mail To Lawmakers Reveal ...
Commissioner Cox, Gary Grief & Reagan Greer knew but
took NO action ... Apparently they chose to deceive the public. Click here.
True Findings Vanish From Final Audit Report (More Deception)
Lottery Watchdog's Bite 5 Years In Making (About Me)
- Two Stories And One Editorial By Me -
Lottery losing more than sales it's losing credibility
Editorial by Ken Rodriguez - San Antonio Express News
Lottery chief gets blame for inflated jackpots
Editorial by Karen Brooks - Dallas Morning News
I Was Frustrated ... About Gary Grief, Kim Kiplin,
Diane Morris & the Commissioners.
Editorial by The sibkkc.ru
Posted July 3, 2005 - Click here
A Special Message To All TLC
Employees - Past & Present