Speaking of the Lottery, good news for those of us who have been slowly underwriting a Promise scholarship: Two major manufacturers of limited video lottery machines, IGT and Spielo, have asked the Lottery Commission to approve raising payouts on the slot machines found in bars and clubs around the state from the current maximum of 92 percent to 95 percent.
I believe gamblers refer to that as loosening the machines.
Regarding last week's item on outgoing Agriculture Commissioner Gus Douglass giving out more than $200,000 in pay raises to 71 administrators and top aides, including 13 pay hikes of $5,000 or more, speculation is that he did so in an effort to spur the troops to campaign on behalf of Republican challenger Kent Leonhardt, with the logic being that Leonhardt would have been more likely to maintain the status quo in terms of the management team.
The new ag commissioner, Sen. Walt Helmick, D-Pocahontas, is expected to do a major reorganization of the agency.
Speaking of the raises, I received a nasty email from Darius Walker, Agriculture Commission information technology director, objecting to publication of the pay raises and salaries:
"I'm not sure what you thought you were accomplishing with this article other than trying to embarrass people or bring strife between employees. I don't appreciate it all. Now everyone in my small community has my salary thrown in their face."
(Of course, if you don't want your salary to be public record, the solution is to take a job in the private sector, which is evidently what Walker is doing.)
Walker also noted that Leonhardt visited the IT department twice during the campaign, and took a real interest in the operations.
"When he first visited, he asked questions about the department's databases, network infrastructure, and information systems. When the answers to those questions were more technical than his experience, he came a second time and brought a trusted individual with information technology experience to ask questions of me and my staff," Walker stated. "I didn't get so much as a phone call from Walt Helmick."
Finally, speaking of ... if you happen to run into a state employee this week, show some consideration. It's the first time in a month that they've had a five-day workweek.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.