Conroe, April 8 – Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal, whose secret actions triggered the resignation of Montgomery County Animal Shelter Director Charles Jackson on March 28, now has included in the Tuesday, April 11, 2017, Commissioners Court Agenda, which he prepared a secret executive session to discuss the hiring of the next Animal Shelter Director. In reality, the hyper political Doyal, who directly caused this latest crisis for the Animal Shelter, the animals, and the taxpayers, should be nowhere near the process to hire a new Director.
How Doyal forced Jackson’s resignation
Doyal and his “chief of staff” fredricks, who oversees a staff of 2 secretaries, called Jackson into Doyal’s office for a meeting on Friday, March 24, 2017. While violating Section 2.10 the County’s Employee Policy Manual Doyal and fredricks sat Jackson down in Doyal’s office and told Jackson that they had received complaints from current and former employees of the Animal Shelter that Jackson made some decisions to terminate certain employees because he is allegedly a “racist,” a “homophobe,” a “bigot,” and someone who discriminates based upon people’s “religious preferences.” Jackson denied the allegations and asked Doyal and fredricks to produce any evidence of such discriminatory conduct by him.
Doyal and fredricks refused to provide any evidence – written or verbal – to Jackson. Doyal and fredricks then asked Jackson whether any “outside source” had caused him to make any “hiring or firing decisions.” Jackson replied “No, sir.” Then Doyal and fredricks further confronted Jackson, “Did Commissioner James Noack influence any of your hiring or firing decisions? Did Noack cause you to discriminate against people?” Jackson again replied, “No, sir, he did not.”
To date, there have been no actions taken in the County’s Human Resources Department against Jackson nor have there been any official complaints opened against Jackson.
Since he became the Animal Shelter Director on December 12, 2016, Jackson has worked closely with Noack, Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark, and businessman Bob Milner to ensure the Shelter moved forward in accordance with the suggestions of the hundreds of citizens who had input into Noack’s and Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley’s strategic plan for the Shelter, which the Commissioners Court eventually adopted but never following during the autumn of 2016. Since Noack is a member of Doyal’s “Hit List” of County employees who didn’t support Doyal for County Judge in the 2014 Republican Primary Election and since Noack has dared to continue to criticize Doyal’s profligate County spending, lack of ethics, conflicts of interest, and encouragement of nepotism, Jackson’s close affiliation with Noack was one which Doyal did not appreciate and wished to end.
Four days after the meeting in Doyal’s office, Jackson officially announced his resignation as an employee of Montgomery County with his last day on the job to be April 14, 2017. Noack has confirmed that Jackson accepted a job which a nonprofit foundation has offered to him for a long time – since even before he came to the County four months ago – but the impetus for Jackson’s resignation now clearly was Doyal’s misconduct towards Jackson.
Doyal and fredricks had absolutely no business whatsoever sticking their noses into such matters with Jackson. Those are serious allegations with which they confronted Jackson. They turned them into a political witch hunt. Only Human Resources Director Dodi Shaw and her outstanding staff should have dealt with such matters concerning another Department Director, even there were any evidence to support them. Doyal and fredricks abused their power and their hyper political control of all County Departments in violation of the Article V, Section 18, of the Texas Constitution, which squarely places such management and control in the entire County Commissioners Court.
Jackson is the most popular and successful Animal Shelter Director in Montgomery County government history. Doyal’s hatred of his political nemesis, Commissioner James Noack, obviously drove Doyal off the managerial deep end. If there were any proof of any of the allegations, then a trained human resources professional, such as Dodi Shaw, should have discussed those matters with Jackson, not a bunch of politicians seeking recrimination against their supposed “enemies.”
Doyal’s proposed “executive session”
Now, Doyal has proposed an “executive session,” i.e. secret meeting behind closed doors, to “discuss and deliberate the employment and duties of…[the] potential animal shelter director.” It’s Agenda item 20B for the meeting on Tuesday, April 11, 2017, at 9:30 a.m. The process for hiring Jackson was far more open. Hundreds of animal experts who live in this community had had input to Noack, Precinct 4 Commissioner Jim Clark, and even Human Resources Director Dodi Shaw on how to select a director, appropriate criteria, and the necessary direction for the Animal Shelter.
Instead, the hyper secretive and hyper political Doyal seems to want to take the search for a new Director entirely under his control, even though Doyal is the cause of this disaster at the Animal Shelter and knows absolutely nothing about how to find a new Director. Frankly, Doyal’s actions and his intent with respect to Jackson have been so harmful to the Shelter that he should recuse himself from the entire search for a new Director. Instead, Noack, Riley, and Clark should form a search committee for the new Director with substantial input and participation from Montgomery County citizens.
Nothing in the Open Meetings Act requires a secret closed meeting to discuss the criteria for the selection of Jackson’s successor. Rather, the secrecy is apparently Doyal’s choice. Section 551.074 merely permits an executive session in order to protect employees’ privacy when their performance, duties, or related matters are in question.
The direction of the Animal Shelter is a major issue which requires full public view and participation. Holding a closed, secret meeting over the Animal Shelter under these circumstances is abhorrent. If Doyal wishes to try to justify he actions in chasing away Jackson, he should do so in public. If the Commissioners Court intends to conduct a search for a new Director and set the criteria therefor, they should do so in public in an open meeting with their entire deliberations subject to the scrutiny of those who actually know the proper direction for the Shelter: the citizens of Montgomery County.