Conroe, March 17 – Among the 121 pages of Montgomery County government spending are two pages that illustrate well why County tax dollars rapidly disappear under the current regime running the local property tax dispensary with County Judge Craig Doyal leading the way. Under Agenda Item 9A4 on the secretive “consent agenda” for the March 20, 2018, Commissioners Court meeting, there’s $12,676,230.04 of spending over 121 single-spaced typed pages for which the Commissioners Court won’t discuss, review, investigate, inspect, or provide any oversight whatsoever. They’ll just spend the citizens’ money in less than a blink of an eye.
No one – and that means none of the County Judge or the four County Commissioners – review the expenditures. They don’t review any backup materials or invoices, because there aren’t any made available to them. They just take it on blind faith that no one will care.
To understand how harmful this lack of oversight actually is, it’s helpful to examine two of the one hundred and twenty-0ne pages. We’ll start with page one. Then we’ll examine page 117.
Page one, Agenda Item 9A4 “Consider and Approve Payment of Accounts”
First major problem on page one: Graves Humphries payments: the JP James Metts/NetData collection debacle
Despite the repeated assurances JP James Metts that the County’s use of an outside law firm to collect fees and fines for four of the five Montgomery County won’t cost Montgomery County anything, there’s payments totaling $43,919.62 to Graves Humphries law firm, which does little more than send one collection letter to each person assessed a fee or fine out of JP Courts 1 (Mack), 2 (Spikes), 4 (Metts), and 5 (Masden). The real method of collection is the issuance of warrants that individuals must pay either when they attempt to renew their drivers licenses or when they’re stopped by a law enforcement officer for some other reason and find themselves incarcerated until they pay the warrants.
Data from the Texas Office of Court Administration has revealed the enormous amounts of money that Metts and the Davenport Ring have cost Montgomery County taxpayers by forcing taxpayers to suffer the failed collection system of Graves Humphries Stahl law firm and its NetData database. The full Office of Court Administration numbers recently became available to The Golden Hammer through a Texas Open Records Act request.
As the following charts reveal, Metts’ JP4 court and Wayne Mack’s JP1 court have the lowest collection rates for fees and fines in Montgomery County. In comparison, Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Edie Connelly, who does not use the GHS/NetData collection system, has an enormously higher collection rate and disposes of far more cases than any of the other JP courts.
The difference between Judge Connelly’s court and the other four is that she utilizes the services of the County government’s Collections Department under its brilliant Director Clegg Dewalt. Judge Connelly doesn’t issue warrants for fees and fines from her court. She just collects them, through the Collections Department. What’s clear is that Metts’ insistence on the use of an outside law firm, Graves Humphries, to collect those fees and fines is costing Montgomery County taxpayers at least $885,114.25 in the poor collection results Metts and the outside law firm are achieving.
Second major problem on page one: Doyal’s County Judge Department’s payment of $744.00 to Phonoscope deep fiber optic cable company out of his “stationery & supplies” budget
Phonoscope is a Davenport Ring scam, which the Commissioners Court never approved, under which Doyal and corrupt local political boss Marc Davenport from whom Doyal still seems to take direction, are installing a deep fiber optic cable system throughout County facilities, rights-of-way, and buildings, except for those under the direction of Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack and Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark, who won’t allow the installations to occur.
It’s striking that Doyal had to tuck the $744.00 expenditure under his “Stationery & Supplies” budget, Account 400 (County Judge), Sub-Account 7310 (Stationery & Supplies). Since the Commissioners Court has never approved the massive installation that’s occurring, Doyal used approximately half of his $1,750 budget budget for stationery on this improper expenditure. It’s amazing that the Commissioners Court will just blindly approve the expenditure just because Doyal and County Auditor Phyllis Martin tucked it on the 121 pages of “Payment of Accounts.” That illustrates that the Commissioners Court will pay for anything and approve anything on the secretive “consent agenda.”
Third page problem on page one: Citibank credit card expenditures with no backup or oversight
County taxpayers will get tabbed for $402.52 of Doyal’s Citibank credit card charges under his “Supplies/Other” account. There is no backup. There’s no receipt. There’s no explanation for what Doyal used the County’s credit card.
Additionally, Doyal used the County’s credit car for $273.70 for “Travel Expense.” Doyal has provided no explanation of where he traveled, his method of travel (snowmobile?), the purpose of the travel, or why County taxpayers should cover the cost of this trip.
It’s a system that has fallen completely into a black hole of governmental opacity.
Page one hundred and seventeen, Agenda Item 9A4 “Consider and Approve Payment of Accounts”
The Decimation of Hope Highway, also known as the $73 million to $85 million, 3 mile, TX 249 Tollway
There it is in black and white, ladies and gentlemen. $49,761.58 of general revenue County tax dollars flushing down the crony-driven Decimation of Hope Highway, also known as the $73 million to $85 million, 3 mile, TX 249 Tollway, and the TX 242 Tollway flyovers that no one in Montgomery County wants other than Doyal and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley.
Amazingly, look at the two main expenditures as well. First, there’s $34,724.73 that Doyal and colleagues will pay to the engineering firm of Doyal’s best friend and business partner, Bobby Jack Adams. Adams is the regional Vice President of Halff Associates, Inc. (known among many engineers and other contractors as “Halff Ass”). Halff has been the so-called “project manager” on the Decimation of Hope Highway project. They’ve done a superb job billing the County for project management, the precise duty of County Commissioners with respect to road and bridge projects of that nature. Halff’s contract has exceeded $2 million. Doyal voted for the contract without disclosing to his colleagues his close connection to one of the officers of the County vendor. You’ll witness voting for the expenditure for his pal’s company at the March 20 Commissioners Court meeting as well.
The second expenditure is $10,739.70 paid to a lawyer, Rich Muller of Sugar Land, who is the chief apologist for the Decimation of Hope Highway project. Muller tries to put a smooth gloss on the wretched flushing of tax dollars going down the Doyal-Riley hole.