Image: Lame duck Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal (right), added an agenda item for the December 11, 2018, Commissioners Court meeting at the end of his failed four-year term to return control of County government operations back to the Commissioners Court, rather than the County Judge, thereby revealing the purpose in the County Judge’s control was to allow Doyal to prosecute his political “Hit List” all along. Now, with Doyal leaving in disgrace, his hypocrisy – and that of two Commissioners – has risen to the top, as Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley (left) wants to continue to prosecute the “Hit List” after Doyal has gone.
Conroe, December 9 – Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley have made it apparent that political retaliation – the “Hit List” – has been their driving force all along and will continue in that regard. With Doyal leaving as a lame duck in disgrace, they’ve placed an item on the Tuesday, December 11, 2018, Commissioners Court meeting agenda to return control of County government operations back to the Commissioners Court from the County Judge. On January 26, 2015, at the request of then-newly-elected County Judge Doyal, the Commissioners Court voted 4 to 1 (Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack dissenting) to give all authority to run the County government to Doyal. They’ve voted twice since then, 3 to 2, to continue with Doyal having all authority (the two dissenters being Noack and Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark).
The purpose of giving Doyal the authority to run the County government, an action which violates the Texas Constitution, was to give the angry politician the ability to terminate employees he didn’t like. Doyal’s first action after passage of the resolution in 2015 was to terminate Mark Bosma, the County government’s Director of Infrastructure who had dared to run against Doyal in the 2014 Republican Primary Election.
Since then, Doyal terminated other “Hit List” members, including Purchasing Director Darlou Zenor, and worked for the termination of other “Hit List” victims, such as Zenor’s husband from the Sheriff’s Office. Doyal and Riley have both continuously threatened County Human Resources Director Dodi Shaw with termination if she dares to communicate with the Publisher of this newspaper or any reform-minded citizens. Right before the November 13, 2018, Commissioners Court meeting and on several occasions thereafter where they’ve verbally threatened Shaw, Riley and Doyal have made clear that Shaw may not communicate or provide information that places Riley in any sort of negative light (and, of course, there is a lot of such information among public information within the County government).
Riley and Doyal sought to terminate Shaw on November 13, but two problems got in their way. First, Shaw outsmarted them and insisted that the secret executive session during the Commissioners Court meeting occur in public view, a right Shaw has as an employee under the Texas Open Meetings Act. Second, a large contingent of politically-influential residents, including District Attorney Brett Ligon, Sheriff Rand Henderson, former County Judge Alan Sadler, renowned conservative activist Kelli Cook, former Human Resources Director Diane Bass, and incoming County Judge Mark Keough, appeared at the Commissioners Court to speak on behalf of Shaw. Riley couldn’t bear such political heat and removed the Shaw termination item from the Court agenda that morning.
Right after Doyal became a lame duck after the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election, Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack sought to return management and control of the Montgomery County government to the entire Commissioners Court and out of the hands of Doyal, as an agenda item on the March 27, 2018, Commissioners Court meeting. The Texas Constitution makes clear that the entire Commissioners Court – and not any one member such as the County Judge – is responsible for management, control, and oversight of the County government.
The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, has confirmed – with one source inside of Doyal’s office, one source inside of Riley’s, and one inside of Keough’s, all three of whom requested anonymity for fear of retaliation from Doyal and Riley – that Doyal didn’t consult with incoming County Judge Mark Keough about Doyal’s intended action to reorganize the entire County government less than a month before Keough becomes the County Judge.
Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley on February 14, 2017, made clear during a Commissioners Court meeting that he didn’t want the responsibility of overseeing, managing, or controlling the County government and preferred to give that responsibility to the County Judge. Therefore, Riley voted against a similar proposal that Noack and Clark made at that Commissioners Court meeting.
Noack’s specific proposal for March 27, 2018 was: “CONSIDER, DISCUSS, AND TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION RELATING TO THE RESOLUTION AND ORDER APPROVED ON JANUARY 26, 2015 (MOTION #36) INVOLVING THE REORGANIZATION OF COUNTY DEPARTMENTS AND TRANSFER OF AUTHORITY TO THE COUNTY JUDGE.” That proposal died on a 3 to 2 vote as well.
It’s clear now, however, that Riley will vote to take the authority away from Keough, because, otherwise, Riley will not have the ability to terrorize County government employees who don’t assist him in hiding his corrupt actions from the public.
On March 26, Noack explained during an interview with The Golden Hammer, “The entire Commissioners Court has the responsibility under the Texas Constitution to manage and oversee the business of the County government. The voters clearly rejected the approach Judge Doyal has taken. It’s appropriate for us to take back the management and oversight under these circumstances.”
A year ago, Doyal made clear that he intentionally didn’t tell the remainder of the members of the Commissioners Court what was happening within the County government. “I don’t tell you everything that goes on for a reason,” Doyal angrily told Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack during the discussion on February 14, 2017.
Now, of course, Shaw has become Riley’s latest punching bag. Every time Riley becomes angry about some public disclosure of his corruption, his nepotism, and his complete lack of any fiscal restraint, Riley has taken to going after Shaw. Three sources inside of the County government confirmed that Riley went on the attack against Shaw during the past week after an article appeared in The Golden Hammer discussing Riley’s nepotistic creation of a new County employment position for his own wife in 2016. Since the article recounted this newspaper’s confirmation that, after Riley created the new position in the Precinct 5 Constable’s Office, there were no interviews of other candidates or any public posting for the job, Riley somehow blamed Shaw and sought, once again, to go after her.
Noack’s March, 2018, proposal would have restored management of all County Departments to the full oversight of the entire County Commissioners Court rather than exclusively under the direction of Doyal. Since January 15, 2015, County Judge Craig Doyal and his “chief of staff” jim fredricks have been responsible for the management of the vast majority of County Departments. Previously, all County Departments reported to the entire County Commissioners Court.
Doyal made clear that County Department heads could only discuss matters with individual County Commissioners that pertained to their Commissioner’s Precincts. “If there’s an issue in your Precinct, they’re not precluded” from speaking with individual County Commissioners, Doyal told Clark last year during a Commissioners Court meeting. Clark noted, “There have been some things that haven’t been communicated to me. I feel like I’m out of the loop on some of this that I need to be closer to. Voters put me here to make right decisions for the county as a whole.”
After Noack argued that “Some department heads asked for the return of the County’s management to the entire Court…department heads aren’t clear if they can talk to us.” Doyal provided that clarification: Department heads apparently can’t speak to individual Commissioners without running afoul of Doyal, unless he gives them permission or the matter involves a Commissioner’s individual Precinct.
Doyal defied Noack’s and Clark’s request for information: “I’m not going to get into day to day operations…I’ll bring major issues to court…I don’t tell you everything that goes on for a reason.”
The County Commissioners Court voted two (Clark, Noack) to three (Doyal, Meador, Riley) and defeated the effort to return management of County departments to the entire Commissioners Court on February 14, 2017. The vote was the same on March 27, 2018.
There are at least three major problems with the current County administrative and management structure.
First, it runs afoul of the vision of how counties should run under the Texas Constitution, Article V, Section 18, which provides, “The [County Commissioners] court shall exercise powers over county business” rather than one member of the Commissioners Court. Commissioner Noack has said, “Though the opportunity to delegate authority may be permitted, it is not wise. The people elected me as commissioner to be able to make these types of decisions pursuant to the Texas Constitution and statutes and when the court approved this egregious resolution they robbed the power from the people of Montgomery County…Delegating these responsibilities to just one sole authority has created a dictator on our court.”
Commissioner Clark said in February, 2017, “I believe this [proposal to move the departments back under the entire Commissioners Court] is a positive move and one that is necessary to keep the integrity of the court’s actions intact. With the increased and intense scrutiny the court is receiving at this time, my belief is that my vote is a voice for the people that elected me to make the best decisions for Montgomery County. We may not always agree and that’s okay. These important decisions need to be made by the entire court.”
Second, the centralized management of Montgomery County just doesn’t work. Doyal is largely absent from the office. His golf obligations and hectic social life keep him busy. The 2016 and early 2017 melee between County Human Resources Director Dodi Shaw and her Assistant Director Kathy Flowers on the one hand and County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport on the other hand over the Treasurer Department’s proposed “reorganization” illustrated the problem with keeping the County’s management under the hyper-political Doyal who regularly encourages nepotism and political posturing. Doyal’s “chief of staff,” jim fredricks, rarely stayed around the office during Doyal’s continuous absences, because fredricks enjoys long afternoon naps.
Third, and perhaps most important, Montgomery County’s government has gained a reputation for its lack of ethics during the management tenure of Doyal and fredricks. The clear reputation of Montgomery County across Texas is “the most corrupt County in Texas.”
With Doyal leaving office in 20 days and effectuating an entire County government reorganization without consulting his successor, Doyal has made clear that corruption and raw power overwhelm any sense of trying to do what is right.