Image: Right to left, County Attorney J.D. Lambright, County Attorney’s Administrative Manager Natalie Laurent, December, 2016.
Conroe, June 21 – As taxpayers are highly focused on the upcoming budget discussions for the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget for the Montgomery County government, County Attorney J.D. Lambright has become a hero for the cause of transparency, while Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador and County Auditor Phyllis Martin fight vociferously to keep the budget process behind closed doors.
Out of every single Montgomery County government department, only two departments have refused to provide their proposed budgets for Fiscal Year 2018 – Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador and County Auditor Phyllis Martin. Every other department has provided the proposed budget packets that those departments transmitted to Martin for consideration during the County Budget hearing process which is set to occur in July.
On May 26, 2017, The Golden Hammer‘s Publisher submitted a Public Information Act/Open Records Act request to County Auditor Phyllis Martin, County Judge Craig Doyal, Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, and Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack for “all budget packets submitted to the County Auditor or County Judge by County Department heads or their representatives for the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget.” Later, the Publisher also requested a copy of the proposed Montgomery Central Appraisal District Budget for Fiscal Year 2018 as well. County Attorney J.D. Lambright received a copy of both requests.
On June 8, 2017, Lambright recognized a major problem brewing and sought both to do the right thing and to forestall a legal issue for Montgomery County. Martin had contacted Lambright and informed him that she refused to provide any of the proposed budget packets, as she had written notes on them and had failed to keep clean copies of any of the proposed budgets, apparently including the packet for her own County Auditor Deparment!
As a result, Lambright suggested to the Publisher to send another Open Records request to every County Department head. Lambright kindly supplied all of the email addresses. On June 8, 2017, the Publisher sent an Open Records Act request to every County Department, which included Martin, Meador, and all other County Department heads.
Since June 8, Lambright and Natalie Laurent, Administrative Manager of the County Attorney’s Office, have diligently followed up to ensure that County Departments have responded by submitting their proposed budget packets so that the public could view them.
The two slackers: Meador and Martin!
As of June 21, 2017, thanks to the good work of Lambright and Laurent, only two Departments heads in all of Montgomery County have failed to provide their proposed budgets and budget packets to The Golden Hammer: Meador and Martin.
On May 31, 2017, Meador sent an email response, “Mr. Yollick everything that we have per your request is a duplicate of what is in the Auditor’s office.” (sic). Since May 26, 2017, neither Meador nor anyone among the bloated Precinct 1 Commissioner staff has provided the proposed budget. Of course, Martin has failed to provide the proposed budget for Commissioner Precinct 1 as well.
During the past twenty-six (26) days, Martin has never responded at all. Martin is the Chief Budget Officer of Montgomery County under the provisions of the Texas Local Government Code. Nevertheless, apparently, Martin does not believe that she has any duty to comply with the provisions of the Texas Public Information/Open Records Act. She has refused to provide her own County Auditor’s Department budget proposal and to provide Meador’s as well.
Clearly, Lambright and Laurent are standing up for the taxpayers on this important transparency issue. As one might expect, two of the greatest opponents of Montgomery County citizens, Mike Meador and Phyllis Martin, have opted for secrecy. Incredibly, even Martin’s direct bosses, all of the District Judges of Montgomery County, have provided copies of their proposed budget packets to The Golden Hammer. Martin and Meador apparently believe they are above the law and they certainly don’t believe that the citizens of Montgomery County should have any interest in how the governmental elite intend to spend the plebeians’ tax dollars.