Eric Yollick, The Golden Hammer
There’s no question that I’m following this election very closely. It’s vital to the future of Montgomery County. At present, reformers (Keough, Noack) will likely hold two of the three seats on the Commissioners Court with an establishment figure (Meador) as the third. Therefore, the outcome of the May 22, 2018, Republican Runoff Election could swing the Commissioners Court towards reform, if either Greg Parker (Commissioners Precinct 2) or Jim Clark (Commissioners Precinct 4) win their runoffs against corrupt establishment figures Charlie Riley (Precinct 2) and James Metts (Precinct 4).
It’s no secret that I invest a lot of my energy, my time, and my treasure into the political causes in which I believe. I’ve made political contributions to Parker, Clark, and at least three different political action committees fighting for reform in the Runoff Election. I’m not in the least bit ashamed of my commitment to clean up the Montgomery County government by reducing government spending substantially, increasing the financial commitment to law enforcement, and increasing the financial commitment to necessary capital projects, such as roads and related mobility needs. I believe that our community has the potential to show the rest of the nation that a community of conservative voters can and will clean up their local government. If we succeed, then we’ll have the moral authority – and the experience – to clean up the state government and maybe even the national government. If we fail, then unrestrained government and taxation growth will continue.
Hopefully, you don’t sense any apology in this editorial, because there isn’t one (with one important exception.)
Yesterday, however, I had a colloquy with a friend who supports a candidate I don’t support and who was working at the polling place at the South Montgomery County Community Center. He saw that I drove by the polling location and later sent me a private message on Facebook: “When you coming back to check on your investment?”
I realize that he was (partly) joking. I answered the question “I don’t know what you mean.” But, as I thought more about his question, I wished that I had answered him differently.
So right here, I will answer the question “When you coming back to check on your investment?”
The appropriate answer from every citizen should be: “I will check on my investment in our government often and with vigilance.”
As Americans, we have a firm understanding of many of the national values that resulted in the formation of the United States. We’ve come to take the strength of those values for granted, however. Someone like Charlie Riley runs for office claiming he’s a “conservative.” Riley has been a Commissioner for three-and-a-half years and has overseen a massive increase in spending and taxes. As a member of the Board of Directors of the Montgomery Central Appraisal District, Riley pushed gigantic tax increases on the vast majority of homeowners and other property owners in this community. After perpetrating all of those losses to our freedom, Riley is, once again, running for office and claiming he’s a “conservative.”
Words mean nothing to Charlie Riley. Riley authored the HGAC Major Thoroughfare Plan which includes a Gosling Road Extension that will cut directly through the W.G. Jones State Forest, yet he now claims that he opposes his own proposal! Riley accuses anyone of saying he ever supported that project of “lying.” Words mean nothing to Charlie Riley.
When one attends the meetings of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court, one sees on public display a group of men who don’t act out of good will or public spirit for the community. Rather, they are self-interested, power-crazed, and money-hungry. They’ve lost all of their public spirit after power has corrupted them. Those guys actually think they’re worthy of the massive salaries they voted to pay themselves. Those guys actually think it’s okay to hire their immediate family members as County employees. Those guys actually think it’s okay to do secret deals behind the scenes to approve road bonds, the hiring of a new Building Maintenance Department Director (he’s already moved into a plush office, even though the formal vote hasn’t occurred), to prevent citizens from voting on tollways, to lobby against statewide property tax reform, and to hire public relations people to propagandize us while receiving our tax dollars as payments to do so.
Montgomery County is a terribly corrupt County government. It’s a laughingstock statewide. Department heads are afraid for their jobs, so they clam up (knowing that they’re morally wrong in their actions to do so.) Employees observe such terrible conduct from their superiors that their only moral and ethical action is to communicate anonymously for fear of job reprisals.
It’s unfair to blame Brett Ligon as the District Attorney. I grant that his public integrity prosecutions do seem far too “discretionary.” Nevertheless, it must be pretty tough to be the DA in a County government where the Commissioners Court has no integrity and successfully hides years of wrongdoing long past the applicable statutes of limitations. As the Commissioners Court revealed during the investigation by County Attorney J.D. Lambright into the Joe Corley Jail Facility, the 0-integrity individuals on the Commissioners Court will happily vote to cut off budgets in order to prevent investigations into their own criminal activity or breaches of fiduciary duty.
Therefore, the real question is: what can a common citizen do in a community with a County government has corrupt as the present Montgomery County government?
The answer is that citizens must check on their investment. We invest in our government in many ways. First and foremost, we give our vote to people to fill government service positions. They are there to serve us. They are our servants. In fact, even the people who don’t run for office but whom I pay my taxes for their paycheck are among those who are my and your servants. Yes, the bitter and hateful Sylvia Olszowy and the witchlike Misty Ringo are my servants and your servants. Their terrible behavior reflects poorly on them and also on their direct superiors (Doyal and Mack).
In the American system of government, citizens are at the top of the organizational chart (despite what County Judge Craig Doyal or County Auditor Phyllis Martin might say.) People at the top have a duty to check on their investment by checking on the whole operation of government. People, such as Kelli Cook, Bill O’Sullivan, Ginger Russell, John Wertz, Julie Turner, and Steve Toth are performing their duty as citizens when they question, criticize, and even show government servants that they are, in fact, government servants.
Now, it’s time for the apology. From 2006 until the end of 2015, I stepped away from my duty to act with vigilance as a citizen. I’m paying a dear price, because now I see the terrible things that men such as Marc Davenport, James Metts, and Charlie Riley did with the government resources at their finger tips. As a citizen, I should have had the knowledge and the foresight to prevent a meeting such as the secret meeting Davenport and Riley had with Phonoscope’s CEO. As a citizen, I should have screamed when Riley, Doyal, and their colleagues raised my taxes and failed to lift a finger to prevent government waste.
As a citizen, it’s my fault. I failed to check on my investment.