May 9 Commissioners Court ratings: a horror show with the good guys (taxpayers) winning in the end; Clark gets highest rating (!)

May 9 Commissioners Court ratings: a horror show with the good guys (taxpayers) winning in the end; Clark gets highest rating (!)

Image: The 1968 horror film “Night of the Living Dead” was less scary than this past Tuesday’s Montgomery County Commissioners Court meeting.

Conroe, May 11 – The May 9, 2017, County Commissioners Court was a horror show of spending, disorganization, and lack of preparation with one small happy ending.

Points are good.

COMMISSIONERS COURT MEETING MAY 9, 2017, 9:30 a.m. (Judge Doyal and Commissioners Meador, Noack, Riley, and Clark were present.)

There were some nice proclamations and resolutions for Emergency Medical Services Week, the Wayne Bergstrom – Salvation Army Center of Hope, Older Americans Month, and three presentations of the Montgomery County Employee Committee Scholarship Presentations. The Golden Hammer is happy to be a contributor to the Montgomery County Employee Committee Scholarship Fund in tribute to the almost 250 County employees who regularly provide information – both openly and confidentially – for this newspaper, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper.The “Consent Agenda” was a complete mess of spending and budget amendments all under Agenda Item 9.

Agenda Item 9A1: Consider and approve payment of accounts. Without any review, discussion, or examination, the County Commissioners approved spending over $7.9 million in expenditures  25 points. Major vote. A “No” vote is appropriate.

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack YES

Clark YES

Agenda Item 9A2: Consider and approve Budget Amendments for Fiscal Year 2017. Some of the budget amendments were minor, but others weren’t. The Commissioners Court classified – illegally – several hundred thousand dollars of Budget Amendments as “emergencies” and “grave public” necessities. Another major vote. 25 points. A “no” vote is appropriate.

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack YES

Clark YES

Agenda Items 9D: Approve over $1.7 million in contracts and change orders. No discussion, no deliberation, no consideration. A “No” vote is appropriate. 10 points.

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack YES

Clark YES

Agenda Item 9E: Approve payment of two claims totaling $9,920.27 without any backup, discussion or information. A “No” vote is appropriate. 5 points.

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack YES

Clark YES

Agenda Item 9H: Consider several pages of Payroll Change Request forms including the hiring of two Department Directors, giving several County employees mid-year raises, and other changes. None of the changes were included with the Agenda, so the Commissioners Court voted on these matters completely blind. They finally voted to approve the hiring of a new Montgomery County Animal Shelter Director nicely tucked into this agenda item!

Incoming Montgomery County Animal Shelter Director Aaron Johnson finally got hired officially on May 9, 2017, even though none of the members of the Commissioners Court knew it happened.

Without discussion or even knowledge, the appropriate vote on the Payroll Changes should have been “NO.” 5 points.

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack YES

Clark YES

Citizen Comments

Michelle Garcia expressed concerns about the Rayford Road expansion with respect to Imperial Oaks where she lives.

Sara Bartlett and Patrick Hagan both did a superb job questioning why the Commissioner Precinct 2, Charlie Riley, was so intent on widening Keenan Cutoff to 5 lanes. Both Bartlett and Hagan noted that most of the road was rural and that only a small portion of the road had school use. Hagan noted that the widening would destroy many trees and significant vegetation.

Eric Yollick presented “The Golden Hammer Award” to Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal.

Agenda Item 11A: Consider and approve filing for unclaimed capital credits with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. This proposal made sense but it was rather surprising how unfamiliar with the process County Judge Craig Doyal seemed to be. A “Yes” vote was appropriate. 1 point.

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack YES

Clark YES

Agenda Item 13A: For the Montgomery County Airport (a spending debacle in its own right), allow the United States Customs Service to pay less user fees than private citizens. A “No” vote was appropriate. 1 point

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack YES

Clark YES

Agenda Item 14A: The Office of Court Administration’s Nathan Jensen and District Judge Lisa Michalk made an excellent presentation explaining a test program that they’ll implement for 1 year beginning in June, 2017, to pay attorneys who provide legal services to indigent individuals accused of committing a felonies a flat annualized fee of $60,000 per year to represent up to 81 indigent criminal defendants at a time ($65,000 per year, if they are bilingual). The experimental program, similar to one in Fort Bend County, will hopefully result in substantial budgetary savings.

Agenda Item 16A: Consider and take appropriate action on debt service models for Fiscal Year 2018. At the request of County Auditor Phyllis Martin who was substantially unprepared to present this item, the Court deferred this item.

Agenda Item 16B: Consider and approve state retirement plan assessment for Fiscal Year 2018. Although the Commissioners Court could have saved taxpaying citizens substantial funds by voting to make the minimum 11.03% contribution, the Commissioners Court voted 5 to 0 to pay a higher amount. It’s easy to play with other people’s money. 10 points. A “No” vote is appropriate.

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack YES

Clark YES

Agenda Item 16C: Consider and accept report on Enterprise Resource Planning System search. An outside consultant from Plante Moran consultants gave a consultant report that consisted of 10 solid minutes of meaningless euphemisms which began with a 2 minute advertisement that made one feel like one was watching an advertisement during a televised golf tournament. Martin assured the Commissioners Court that the proposal to purchase an enterprise resource planning system, at a cost of a mere $6 to 10 MILLION, with payouts of another $15 to 20 MILLION over the next 20 years would not reduce the need for any County employees whatsoever. While the County employees will have a lot of fun with this computer system and the endless euphemistic meetings of poorly-contrived meaningless drivel, the massive investment of tax dollars will result in no savings whatsoever but will give end users (County bureaucrats) a feeling of enormous power.

Golf advertisements inspire all to many hours of restful slumber on the couch on Sunday afternoons.

Agenda Item 16D: Consider and accept report of valuations representing 5% of adopted budget. This report from Doyal and Martin was another scare tactic to attempt to convince people stupid enough to believe them that it would be impossible to cut even 5% of Doyal’s, Riley’s, and Meador’s beloved spending Budget. There was no vote. No one was ignorant or naive enough to buy into this garbage spewing out of the Sadler Administration Building.

Agenda Item 16E: This nebulous proposal to conder and discuss previous reports from County Auditor Phyllis Martin concerning the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget was appropriately deferred.

Photograph constituting symbolic depiction of Jorge Ardines’ presentation of Agenda Item 17A.

Agenda Item 17A: This agenda item was a train wreck. First, the Commissioners Court voted 4 to 1 (Clark dissenting) on a proposal to approve an award to Anderson Pollution to clean up hazardous materials. There was almost no discussion or information. Clark told The Golden Hammer that he voted “no” because he felt Anderson Pollution didn’t have sufficient community experience to do the job. A “No” vote was appropriate. 5 points.

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack YES

Clark NO

Agenda Item 17A (again): There were three votes for providing almost three million dollars of awards for the construction of the Fish Creek Thoroughfare expansion in Precinct 2 (Riley) and the Alford Road Bridge (also Riley’s Precinct). Since these proposals were in an approved bond referendum, The Golden Hammer wouldn’t normally rate them. The problem here, however, is that Riley and County Purchasing Director Jorge Ardines both revealed substantial confusion over these two projects and the identities of the awardees on the contracts. It was apparent that neither Riley nor Ardines had reviewed the costs of the contracts. Therefore, under the circumstances, a “No” vote is appropriate. 10 points.

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack YES

Clark YES

Agenda Item 17A (again): This agenda item was a complete mess involving award an contract for inmate healthcare services for the Montgomery County Jail. Interim Purchasing Director Jorge Ardines announced to the Commissioners Court that the highest bidder would get the contract. The current contract is $1.7 million per year, but the contractor has terminated effective June 1. The new contract would be over $5 million per year. The new contract includes psychological services for inmates as well as more services that the Jail could provide within its walls. There is a good argument that Sheriff Rand Henderson made that providing such services would actually reduce the total cost of inmate medical services. The problem arose during the Commissioners Court when it became apparent that Ardines was unable to explain why he chose the most expensive contract and whether anyone had conducted an analysis of whether the proposed contract pricing was reasonable.

To finish off an embarrassingly poor presentation, particularly from Ardines, Commissioner Meador made a motion which no one (including Meador) could understand. After the unanimous vote, The Golden Hammer asked two Commissioners and other County officials what the Court had just approved. Commissioner Noack publicly made the comment that he felt like he was being asked to vote on the Obamacare law where numerous members of Congress expressed that they had never read it. The answer as to what the Court approved was different from each person. Under the crazy circumstances, a “No” vote was appropriate. 10 points.

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack YES

Clark YES

Agenda Item 21: Executive Session on hiring a new Purchasing Director. This approximately one hour Executive Session didn’t result in any action.

Agenda Item 23: Citizen comments. Sherry Shorten, a private citizen, provided the best explanation all day of reasons for overhauling the County’s database system.

The Commissioners Court pretended to adjourn and open a meeting of the Montgomery County Toll Road Authority, a silly device to make the public believe that they’re not the ones blowing $73 million on a 3.6 mile toll road also known as the Decimation of Hope Highway at the far southwest edge of Montgomery County.

County Attorney B.D. Griffin presented a proposal to give Geotest Engineering a $46,350 change order to provide additional geotechnical engineering services. Meador was absent from this portion of the meeting. The vote was 2 to 2 and the motion died. The Decimation of Hope Highway is the most perilous horror facing the citizens of Montgomery County. Therefore, a “No” vote was appropriate. 100 points.

Doyal YES

Meador ABSENT

Riley YES

Noack NO

Clark NO

TOTAL SCORES FOR May 9, 2017 MEETING.

Doyal 1/207. Grade = F.

Meador 1/207. Grade = F.

Riley 1/207. Grade = F.

Noack 101/207. Grade = F.

Clark 106/207. Grade = F.

CUMULATIVE POSSIBLE SCORES FOR FY 2017 = 2,719.

Doyal = 283/2,926. Grade = F.

Meador = 323/2,926. Grade = F.

Riley = 343/2,926. Grade = F.

Noack = 1,448/2,926. Grade = F.

Clark = 893/2,926. Grade = F.

Disappointing (again). The “consent agenda” is a true horror. It would be nice to enter into a time warp in which consent agendas no longer exist. That would be a great first touch to fiscal responsibility. Citizens should be the “Sword of Damocles” hovering over the heads of our elected officials. Don’t dream it; make it real. Then we can all rejoice that we’re “going home” to the wonderful place where private citizens may all bless each other’s souls.

As citizens, we must remain vigilant.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Jim Clark.

 

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