BREAKING NEWS! An Exclusive Report of The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper.
The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Austin and Conroe, March 12 – At the urging of Montgomery County’s legislative delegation, who are dissatisfied with the lack of opportunity for public input into the “sunset” review of the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA), the scofflaw state agency headquartered in its opulent building on Lake Conroe, the 87th Texas Legislature and the Texas Sunset Commission will delay the “sunset” review process for two years.
State Senator Brandon Creighton, Republican of Conroe, told The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, “Senator [Robert] Nichols and I were not satisfied with the level of thoroughness that was possible during the Covid year of 2020 and felt SJRA should remain under review.”
State Representative Will Metcalf, Republican of Conroe, who is the House member whose District includes the SJRA, said, “It is my strong belief that my constituents didn’t have the opportunity to let their voices be heard over the course of this last year while the Sunset Commission was conducting their review.” Metcalf further explained, “We have one shot every 12 years to make substantive changes to this agency through the sunset process to ensure they can more effectively serve We The People. I am in favor of pushing the sunset bill to next session, so the great people of my district and Montgomery County can rightfully let their voices be heard, and a true, exhaustive and comprehensive review of the SJRA can be done with citizens fully engaged this time around.”
State Representative Steve Toth, also of Conroe and a harsh critic of SJRA, told this newspaper last night, “In light of the substantial and frequent failures on the part of SJRA, it’s amazing that the Sunset Review Commission didn’t give the people, who are served by the SJRA, any voice in the review. I hope and pray they don’t make the same mistake in two years.”
Arguably SJRA’s most vocal critic is Simon Sequeira, the Chairman of Restore Affordable Water (RAW), a citizens advocacy group in favor of private property rights, and President of Quadvest, a utility company, which has filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against SJRA pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division. Sequeira told The Golden Hammer, “Due to Covid, SJRA has escaped the traditional rigors of sunset review, they thought. People in Montgomery County have been outraged about the lack of participation afforded them in the sunset review process. [The] Sunset [Commission] heard our pleas, and SJRA will be forced to go through review again in 2 years.”
In related news, The Golden Hammer has obtained a copy of a March 1, 2021, letter from Shawn Harrison, Special Counsel to the Texas Legislature’s Legislative Council addressed to Alan Leonard, the SJRA’s Project Manager of the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission, in which Harrison noted that SJRA is currently violating Sections 30 and 30a of Article XVI of the Texas Constitution with respect to the manner in which SJRA Board members are chosen and the number of Board members who serve. SJRA’s has violated its own Enabling Statute for 84 years, by failing “to provide flood control” and by failing to engage in soil conservation along the San Jacinto River. Therefore, major violations of the Texas Constitution should come as no surprise.
SJRA is easily one of the most corrupt and poorly-managed state agencies in Texas. Despite its clear statutory mandate “to provide flood control” and control soil erosion, which such mandate has been in place since 1937, SJRA has:
- Failed to provide any flood control during its entire 84 year history;
- Unleashed a torrent of water in the middle of the night during Tropical Storm Harvey and flooded thousands of homes in Conroe, East Montgomery County, and northeast Harris County without any meaningful warning, when SJRA opened the flood gates of the Lake Conroe Dam to release over 79,130 cubic feet per second of water upon homes and businesses downstream;
- According to United States District Judge Vanessa Gilmore and a pending federal antitrust lawsuit against the state agency, SJRA has engaged in monopolistic practices to drive retail water prices up in order to garner greater profits and revenue for its retail surface water sales;
- Manipulated regulations of groundwater through its previous control of the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District to prevent groundwater producers from selling water at low prices;
- Refused to abide by 284th District Judge Kristin Bays’ Court Order to release the agency’s operating plan to this newspaper, after SJRA and its lawyers failed to abide by the provisions of the Texas Public Information Act; and
- Continued to treat private individuals, who seek to interact with SJRA’s Board of Directors during Board meetings, as though they have leprosy.
During the evening of Tuesday, March 9, 2021, the Montgomery County Republican Party’s (MCRP) County Executive Committee, composed of the one hundred (100) elected Republican Precinct Chairs in Montgomery County, voted unanimously to call for severe reform of the management and Board of SJRA or, in the alternative, to abolish the state agency altogether and moves its functions and assets to the Trinity River Authority.
SJRA’s General Manager Jace Houston didn’t respond to a request for comment.