Conroe, January 10, 2017 – Montgomery County Engineer Mark Mooney received the first “Golden Hammer Award” of 2017 at the Tuesday, January 10, 2017, meeting of the Commissioners Court. The “Golden Hammer Award” recognizes instances of wasteful government spending that result in “hammering the taxpayers.” Mooney refused to accept the gold-painted hammer, so Montgomery County Clerk Mark Turnbull took custody of the actual award.
Mooney is #14 on the Solid Gold 50 overpaid employees list, as his county salary is $162,064.26. In his job as County Engineer, Mooney is official the County’s “Road Transportation Engineer” as designated under the Texas Local Government Code. His duties include overseeing all road design, engineering, and construction within the County. On December 28, 2016, however, Ross McCall, an assistant county engineer inside of Mooney’s office, confirmed that the County Engineer’s Office is not aware of the status or progress of any of the fifty-five (55) road bond projects which voters approved in a November, 2015, referendum. McCall explained that “we [the County Engineer’s Office] have nothing to do with the road bond projects.”
Several county officials have confirmed that a contractor who makes several thousand dollars per year of political campaign contributions to each of the County Judge and Commissioners – other than Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack – receives approximately $20,000 per month as the “on-call transportation engineer” for the road bond projects, the $100 million TX-249 toll road extension (3.6 miles!), and all other road projects within Montgomery County. That contractor is John Holzwarth, a close friend and longtime political supporter of Montgomery County Commissioner Mike Meador. After the Commissioners Court meeting, Holzwarth confirmed that he acts in that capacity and “just tries to do my best.”
Mooney was an assistant county engineer before he succeeded to the office of County Engineer when J. Don Blanton retired in 1998. Prior to working for the county, Mooney worked as an engineer for Sitech Engineering Company. Mooney was known as a very talented young engineer.
Holzwarth charges Montgomery County $200 per hour pursuant to an open-ended contract that has no maximum amount which the county may pay him for his services. The County Commissioners Court approves his invoices and payments on the Consent Agenda without any County Judge or Commissioner oversight whatsoever. The County approval is perfunctory only to make the citizens believe there is some oversight, because the county actually cuts checks for and pays Holzwarth’s invoices before the Commissioners Court meetings!
Removing the statutory “road transportation engineer” Mooney from the road projects and replacing him with political contributor Holzwarth is both an enormous waste of county tax dollars as well as an important mechanism to ensure that county road dollars flow in the tens of millions to other engineering firms, such as Halff Associates, Inc., Binkley and Barfield Engineers, Dannenbaum Engineering, and Geoscience Engineering, which are major political campaign contributors to County Judge Craig Doyal and his “axis of evil” (Riley-Clark- Meador) Commissioners.