Conroe, February 19 – County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport announced in an exclusive with The Golden Hammer that she is reorganizing her 8-person County Department and, upon approval of the Commissioners Court, returning $31,505.59 in permanent savings to the County Budget as a result. Davenport also criticized County Human Resources Director Dodi Shaw for “posturing” (1) concerning that reorganization and (2) with respect to Shaw’s February 13, 2017, letter reported in Montgomery County’s leading newspaper yesterday (“Breaking News: HR Director Dodi Shaw Fears for Her Job, Pledges Loyalty in Complaint Letter to County Judge Craig Doyal,” February 18, 2017).
In discussing these issues with this newspaper, Davenport explained, “It’s disappointing that this internal matter has become a public spectacle. In my opinion, it’s totally unnecessary and serves no public purpose.”
Davenport explained what happened during her efforts to reorganize her Department and save the taxpayers some coin. “In 2015, my deputy treasurer retired. I did not fill the position because I needed to reduce my contingent liabilities first. I knew I wanted to do a reorg but I had inherited heavy liabilities that included large comp balances, large vacation balances and vacation accruals. By not replacing the Deputy Treasurer, I was able to pay off comp liabilities, and stay within my budget. I always came in under budget at the end of each fiscal year. We work smart and hard and produce more with less,” Davenport said. Davenport noted that at the end of the past four Fiscal Years, her department left unspent $23,010.27 (FY 2013), $27,649.21 (FY 2014), $28,405.02 (FY 2015), and $81,393.17 (FY 2016).
When one of the Treasurer’s employees announced her retirement in November, 2016, Davenport said that she would be able to execute a reorganization and reduce her budget further. Davenport’s reorganization plan would “take the two vacant full-time positions and change them into 1 full-time position and 1 part-time position and also reflect all the new responsibilities my department had assumed over the previous 4 years, including the cross-training the staff had received over the last 4 years. The part-time position will not require benefits,” Davenport said.
Davenport further clarified that two members of her leadership staff discussed the vacant Deputy Treasurer position with her, including her payroll coordinator Lindsey Doyal, the daughter of County Judge Craig Doyal. Davenport noted:
“145 days ago, on September 26th, I met with the HR director [Dodi Shaw] and the HR assistant director [Kathy Flowers]. Lindsey Doyal, my Payroll Coordinator, attended the meeting as well. I asked them if our conversation would be confidential as we worked through the ideas and process and both of them replied ‘yes.’ We provided them with ‘drafts of the PDQs [Position Description Questionnaires used for creating new positions or new job responsibilities for existing positions] and requested feedback. However, over the course of the next 6 weeks, the HR Director started posturing. Instead of grading the PDQs as requested, she began seeking the opinions of others on the politics. She gave me vague responses, did a perfunctory job of grading the PDQs and then couldn’t substantiate her findings when questions. In an effort to resolve the matter and the delays, several meetings occurred. Sometimes contentious, but always meant as a means to move forward and to stay within the chain of command. By the end of November, Lindsey Doyal had decided to remain in her current role and be withdrawn from consideration.”
Davenport summarized that several other meetings have occurred and that the PDQs are now prepared for review by the Commissioners Court and will hopefully appear on the February 28, 2017, meeting agenda.
Davenport made some interesting comments about nepotism in Montgomery County, both generally and in the context of Lindsey Doyal in particular:
“It is true that I employ the County Judge’s daughter. I also have 2 accounting assistants, a financial analyst and her assistant. All of them were employees of the county when I took office [in 2013]. By definition, nepotism is an abuse of power. Nepotism does not occur in my department. Yes, I house the daughter of the County Judge. However, the County Judge does not interfere with the day to day operations of my employees. There are many instances of family members working for the county. I abide by the policies set forth by the court…I will not terminate someone just because they are related to an elected official, just as I will not retain an employee for the same reason. People grow up around the dinner table, where their families talk about public service. Hundreds have followed in their parent’s footsteps, in law enforcement and other departments.”
Davenport has explained that she has “fine-tuned” the Treasurer’s Department.
Judge Doyal and his “chief of staff” should not be involved in Treasurer Department activities, because Doyal’s daughter is one of the managers of that department. That illustrates one of the many problems with nepotism, the “abuse of power” to which Davenport referred. Additionally, while The Golden Hammer does not question Davenport’s sincerity and does compliment her for working to save $31,505 of tax dollars, County government meetings should never be confidential. The bright light of the sun and the moon should shine upon them for all citizens to observe.
Shaw and Davenport should work towards a public rapprochement. Since Craig Doyal and Jim Fredricks would bring elements of crass politics and nepotism into any interactions involving the Human Resources and Treasurer’s Departments, they should remain far from those actions and from those departments. Human Resources Departments shouldn’t be political, even in a County government.