Time to End Nepotism in the Montgomery County Government

Time to End Nepotism in the Montgomery County Government

Conroe, April 10 – It’s time to end nepotism in the Montgomery County government. In two instances – (1) the “Charlie Riley 2-Step” where he created a new position and then hired his own wife, Deanne, for it, and (2) the immense problems involving the County Treasurer’s Department and the proposal that some still-undisclosed person made by submitting official documents to the Human Resources Department, dated September 6, 2016, that would have given a major promotion and salary increase to Lindsey Doyal, County Judge Craig Doyal’s daughter – nepotism has created major problems for the County and given our community a terrible black eye. Doyal has repeatedly seconded or made motions to give his daughter promotions and pay raises and increased budgets for the County Department in which she works.

The time has come for nepotism to end. County Attorney J.D. Lambright did a good job with the County’s first Code of Ethics, even though it lacks enforcement teeth, doesn’t really address conflicts of interest, and doesn’t address nepotism at all. You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Lambright and his team, especially Assistant County Attorney Amy Dunham, for trying to provide the County with as robust a Code of Ethics as possible in the face of a County Judge and Commissioners Court that continus to resist ethics reform mightily.

Nepotism is disgusting in Montgomery County. Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley procured the new job for his wife Deanne Riley. County Judge Craig Doyal’s daughter Lindsey Doyal, who works as the Payroll Supervisor in the County Treasurer’s Office, has obviously received several promotions and pay raises as a result of her father. Here’s a list of some of the major instances of nepotism in Montgomery County, but there are actually so many, many more:

  • Commissioner Charlie Riley + his wife Deanne Riley
  • County Judge Craig Doyal + his daughter Lindsey Doyal
  • Commissioner Mike Meador + his brother Bill Meador (works in Building Maintenance)
  • Commissioner Jim Clark + his wife’s mother (works in the District Attorney’s Office)
  • Paul Case, Director of Building Maintenance + his son Craig Case who works for him in the same Department (game-playing aside)
  • Rob Wright, Assistant Director of Building Maintenance + his wife who works for him directly in the same Department
  • Rob Wright, Assistant Director of Building Maintenance + his son who works for him directly in the same Department
  • County Auditor Phyllis Martin + her sister Suzie Harvey, Elections Administrator

There are others, including instances where elected officials’ spouses work for the County as well.

Nepotism creates a lot of problems. It creates poor employee morale and jealousies. It prevents employment decisions based upon merit. It creates conflicts of interest for the affected employees who should focus on their duty to their employer, Montgomery County, rather than their obligations to family members. There are other problems from nepotism concerning many permutations.

But there’s also an interesting area where one probably ought to consider looking past nepotism: law enforcement. Why? Is this situation just another instance of someone giving a “pass” to law enforcement? Not really. Historically, law enforcement families tend to remain law enforcement families. Parents raise their children to follow in their footsteps. Husbands and wives often share the backgrounds, histories, and values of certified peace officers, which is precisely how they become husbands and wives in some instances. Peace officers receive different specialized training for their careers. Their legal duties are drilled quite intensely into them from the beginning of their careers. Nepotism has not historically created problems in law enforcement fields, as long as the affected individuals don’t work together.

In recent days, there have been some discussions about “fatal nepotism,” which means a nepotistic relationship which kills someone’s career. While it’s true that nepotism rules should not create unnecessary fatalities (i.e., job losses), there are clearly instances where nepotism is so fraught with likely peril, that those fatalities (i.e., employment terminations) become necessary.

So here are some basic nepotism rules, which Montgomery County should consider adopting. Affinity means “by marriage.” Consanguinity means “by blood relationship.”

Rule #1: A member of Commissioners Court (County Judge, four County Commissioners) and any relative within two degrees of affinity or consanguinity may not both work for Montgomery County.

Rule #2: A member of Commissioners Court may not vote on any matter pertaining to any County Department if the member has a relative in that Department within three degrees of affinity or consanguinity. Such excluded votes do not include voting for or against the adoption of the entire County Budget.

Rule #3: County employees may not work in the same Department with anyone to whom they’re related within three degrees of affinity or consanguinity. Similarly, County employees may not work with anyone to whom they’re related within three degrees of affinity or consanguinity, whether they’re officially in the same Department or not.

Rule #4: No relationship within three degrees of affinity or consanguinity may form the basis of any employment decision (hiring, firing, promotion, demotion, salary or wage determinations).

The foregoing rules minimize the number of instances where nepotism is fatal, although some circumstances (particularly those involving members of the Commissioners Court) are so egregious that employment fatality is the only solution.

Let’s revisit the list from above:

  • Commissioner Charlie Riley + his wife Deanne Riley – Rule #1 prohibits. Deanne Riley would have to look for a job elsewhere.
  • County Judge Craig Doyal + his daughter Lindsey Doyal. Rule #1 prohibits. Lindsey Doyal would have to look for a job elsewhere.
  • Commissioner Mike Meador + his brother Bill Meador (works in Building Maintenance). Rule #1 prohibits. Bill Meador would have to look for a job elsewhere.
  • Commissioner Jim Clark + his wife’s mother (works in the District Attorney’s Office). Permitted but his mother-in-law may not work with Clark or for Clark. In accordance with Rule #2, Clark should not vote on the District Attorney’s budget.
  • Paul Case, Director of Building Maintenance + his son Craig Case who works for him in the same Department (game-playing aside). Rule #3 prohibits. Craig Case would have to find a job within the County where he does not work directly for his father.
  • Rob Wright, Assistant Director of Building Maintenance + his wife who works for him directly in the same Department. Rule #3 prohibits. Mrs. Wright would have to look for a job within the County where she does not work for her husband.
  • Rob Wright, Assistant Director of Building Maintenance + his son who works for him directly in the same Department. Rule #3 prohibits. Young Mr. Wright would have to look for a job within the County where he does not work for his father.
  • County Auditor Phyllis Martin + her sister Suzie Harvey, Elections Administrator. Permitted but Rule #3 would prohibit Martin from personally being involved in auditing the Elections Department or in helping to determine its budget. Actually, the “Yellow Book” of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles would also prohibit Martin from being involved in auditing the Elections Department.

We don’t need the Kim family history in our Montgomery County government. We don’t need other instances of nepotism either. As District Attorney Brett Ligon said to the Commissioners Court, it’s time for this County to be “aspirational” when it comes to ethics.

 

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