Image: With Commissioner Mike Meador missing (empty chair on far right), the fragile Montgomery County Commissioners Court coalition foisting the Tx-249 Tollway on Montgomery County citizens, despite massive community opposition, first voted down a proposal to accept the corrupt right-of-way grant from Varde Partners, a multinational real estate developer which regularly gives small portions of right of land to government entities so that they government entities will build the primary roads to support its commercial real estate development profits. The vote was 2 to 2, so the proposal failed, until Meador returned from the bathroom. He had left the Court meeting to go to the bathroom while a citizen dared to speak out a the unpopular Tollway project.
Conroe, October 11 – With overwhelming citizen opposition to the construction of the Tx-249 Tollway at the far southwest edge of Montgomery County and with two members of the five-member Commissioners Court as vocal critics of the proposed project, the fragile Tx-249 Tollway corruption coalition on the Court stalled and sputtered on October 10, 2017, during what should have been a simple vote on whether to accept donated right-of-way property for the construction of the portion the Tollway from the Grimes County line approximately to the intersection with F.M. 1486 five (5) miles westward. Initially, with Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador choosing to go to the bathroom rather than listen to the opposition of a citizen in her comments, the vote was two (County Judge Craig Doyal and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, for) to two (Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack and Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark, against), so the motion to accept the right-of-way failed!
Money ties to an Austin political consultant released from federal prison, to Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal’s legal defense fund, to a Minneapolis real estate developer that contributes thousands of dollars to Doyal’s campaign fund, and to San Antonio Rick Sheldon taint the right-of-way deal that Doyal and Riley placed before the Commissioners Court and Montgomery County Toll Road Authority for an official acceptance vote on Tuesday, October 10. Varde Partners, a Minnesota real estate developer, is contributing, through one of its real estate development partnerships, right-of-way property for the construction of the Tx-249 Tollway project.
The “contribution” is far from an act of benevolence. Varde Partners, a Minneapolis-based real estate investment company, owns approximately six thousand (6,000) acres of real estate near the proposed Tx-249 tollway and intends to develop commercial centers after the government completes the unnecessary tollway. Varde has mastered the art of giving small portions of rights-of-way to governmental entities throughout Singapore, East Asia, and Europe so that the government will bear the cost of roadway development rather than Varde having to create access and infrastructure itself.
One of Varde’s directors is Jeff Thuringer, who has contributed thousands of dollars to Doyal’s political campaigns over the years. Thuringer and Pete Peters, a political consultant since his release from federal prison with whom Varde has worked closely, established Doyal’s and Riley’s legal defense fund, which hired and paid at least in part for Houston criminal defense attorney Rusty Hardin to lead the defense of Doyal in the Texas Open Meetings Act (“TOMA”) criminal indictment which is now pending before the Beaumont Court of Appeals.
How the disaster occurred
During the Commissioners Court meeting, Doyal called upon Rich Muller, a Sugar Land Attorney who represents the Tx-249 Tollway project, to explain the Varde right-of-way deal in a nicely-canned speech that put a large portion of the audience to sleep. At the conclusion of Muller’s presentation, Doyal quickly asked for a motion and second to accept the deal.
Unfortunately, for Doyal, prominent Republican Precinct Chair Ginger Russell of Magnolia, quickly rose to her feet and interjected, “Are you going to let citizens speak on this?” Doyal, responded, “No one signed up to speak on this. Oh, you did? I’ll let you speak on this one, but in the future if you’ll name specific items on the agenda you’d like to speak on…” with the implicit threat that Doyal’s newest rules to restrict the time, place, and manner of citizen comments would likely obfuscate future citizen participation.
As Russell made an impassioned citizen comment, Meador left to go to the bathroom. When Russell finished her remarks, Muller tried to rebut them.
At that point, Muller lied to the Commissioner Court and the audience by stating, “The decision to toll the road is TxDOT’s decision.” In fact, TxDOT only voted to make the Tx-249 Extension a tollroad after Doyal and Riley attended the Tx-DOT meeting in Austin on June 27, 2017, and lied that Montgomery County is “unified in support” for a tollroad.
Then Doyal made a mistake, because he hadn’t noticed Meador’s trip to the bathroom. Doyal called for a vote. Doyal and Riley voted in favor but Clark and Noack voted against there Tx-249 resolution, so it failed.
Doyal developed a huge scowl on his face and said, “Well, we need to let Commissioner Meador get back.”
Apparently, in Doyal’s methodology, he’ll vote and vote and vote on the same corrupt resolution until he can get it to pass.
After some fumbling between Doyal and an assistant county attorney, Doyal added, “Okay. So it does not pass…okay, okay. The motion fails.”
Meador then saved the Doyal by ambling back into the Commissioners Courtroom. Doyal breathed a sigh of relief and called for a revote, so that his pet project, also known as the Decimation of Hope Highway, the Tx-249 Taxway, and the $73 million, 3.6-mile, Tx-249 Extension could proceed.