IMAGE: At the tip of the arrow sits Marshall Shirley, Montgomery County’s Information Technology Director, during the complete meltdown of the computer technology system in the Commissioners Courtroom on Tuesday, March 14, 2017. He was obviously very relaxed sitting in the dark corner.
Conroe, March 16 – In the midst of a total technological meltdown of the computer technology system in the highly-priced Commissioners Courtroom, during the March 14, 2017, Court meeting, massively-paid Information Technology Director Marshall Shirley just sat in the back of the Courtroom playing with his hand-held computer and not paying attention to anything happening. Meanwhile, “chief of staff” jim fredricks scurried around the Courtroom with a wry but pained look on his face like a gerbil hunting for food and instead only finding fake plastic toys in his cage.
The meltdown occurred during an attempted presentation by Precinct 3 Constable Ryan Gable, recently named Constable of the Year in the entire State of Texas. His patience and mild temperament during the disaster revealed some of his attributes as a law enforcement leader in our community.
Prior to the commencement of the Commissioners Court meeting, Gable and Sylvia Olszowy, one of two secretaries working in County Judge Craig Doyal’s office, loaded Gable’s PowerPoint presentation by connecting his laptop computer to the County’s video IT system. That system powers the multiple big-screen televisions that our exorbitantly-salaried County Judge and County Commissioners find necessary in order to pretend to hold a meaningful exchange of ideas in front of the public. The system seemed to work just fine prior to the meeting.
After the prayer, the pledge of allegiance, passage of the multimillion dollar secretive consent calendar, a few citizen comments, and the County Commissioner’s firm mandate to spend “contingency funds” (also known as “tax dollars”) in order to take a picture of themselves “For Future Generations,” Constable Gable came to the podium to make his PowerPoint presentation explaining his Department’s goals for the next two years. As Gable happily introduced his presentation, darkness consumed the giant-screen televisions on which the citizens were to enjoy the slides. Gable began to press the buttons on the laptop gently and then a bit harder. Doyal looked over to fredricks who jumped up and began to scurry.
fredricks’ scurrying back and forth did nothing. The most interesting part of the entire exchange, however, was Marshall Shirley, the Director of Montgomery County’s Information Technology Department. Shirley makes $140,510 per year plus benefits and serves as a member of The Golden Hammer’s “Solid Gold 50” for overpaid employees in Montgomery County in comparison to what individuals in the same jobs make in the private sector.
It’s important to note the carefully-crafted Mission Statement of the Information Technology Department: “To provide technology computing and communications services to County Offices and Departments; allowing them to effectively utilize technology in performing their individual role and responsibilities.” In order to “allow…[County employees] to effectively utilize technology in performing their individual role (sic) and responsibilities,” Montgomery County taxpayers pay the Information Technology Department a whopping $4,687,168 during Fiscal Year 2017!
Nevertheless, with his massive salary, the frantic gyrations of fredricks, and the embarrassment of Doyal and Gable all occurring at once, Shirley sat, relaxed, and enjoyed the County tax dollars as they poured into his pocket. The County could not disturb Marshall Shirley that day.
Shirley was the perfect image of a giant clay statue of the Buddha with a huge smile on his face contemplating the existence of the moment.
During the remainder of the meeting, the technology, including severe problems with the Commissioners Court video system, continued to fail, but none of that could disturb Marshall Shirley’s quiet contemplation. Craig Doyal, his boss under the County’s power-centric and managerially-challenged organization, taught Shirley well.