Image: Montgomery County Auditor Rakesh Pandey, who has begun his tenure seeming to act as a true independent auditor, presented his first ever Comprehensive Annual Financial Report to the Montgomery County Commissioners Court on March 19, 2019. Significantly, Pandey restored Montgomery County citizens to the top of the organizational chart of the County government after elitist and disgraced former County Auditor Phyllis Martin and former County Judge Craig Doyal had disconnected the citizens from the government.
Conroe, April 15 – Mark Keough has very much become the “People’s County Judge” in his efforts to bring reform to the corrupt Montgomery County government, where out-of-control spending, terrible ethics, and government secrecy became the trademarks of how the County’s government operated under the disgraceful administration of former County Judge Craig Doyal, his lackey Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, and Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Meador, who never met a tax dollar he didn’t want to take and to spend on Big Government. The March 19, 2019, Commissioners Court seemed to begin an important turn in the County government in which Keough ignored the corrupt habits of his colleagues and began to work on fulfilling his campaign promises.
The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) of new Montgomery County Auditor Rakesh Pandey, who clearly is seeking to work independently of politics unlike his terminated and disgraced predecessor Phyllis Martin, revealed an important recognition and restoration of the rights of Montgomery County citizens. As citizens and voters, citizens should appear at the top of the organizational chart of government.
Doyal, Riley, and Meador have worked very hard to exclude citizen oversight and input into government. They locked County offices, locked their own officers, ordered secrecy and slow cooperation with requests under the Texas Public Information Act, they ignored the provisions for the Texas Open Meetings Act, and even went so far as to separate the citizens from the organizational chart of the County government in the annual financial report, the CAFR.
In the CAFR for Fiscal Year 2017, Doyal, Riley, Meador, and the corrupt Martin included the following “organization chart” which shows the voters separated and apart from the remainder of the Montgomery County government with no connection thereto.
In the CAFR for Fiscal Year 2018, Keough, the “People’s County Judge,” and Pandey, who seems to work as a truly independent auditor, the organization chart” shows the citizens at the top of the chart with direct connection and oversight to the remainder of the elected servants and public servants who work for the citizens within the County government.
The CAFR, of course, emanated from Montgomery County Auditor Rakesh Pandey, but it reflects the “open government” and citizen involvement attitude of Keough who came into office on January 1, 2019, after winning the March 2018 Republican Primary Election and the November 2018 General Election by landslide margins.
The CAFR still does not meet Generally Accepted Auditing Standards, but Pandey also has just come into office and faces a mess in his office after years of corruption under the now-terminated Martin.
The revised organization chart alone is a major reform towards citizen government. Therefore, a vote to approve the CAFR was a major vote of 25 points, for which members of the Commissioners Court should have voted “Yes.” The approval passed unanimously. Keough receives a 500 point bonus for ensuring this important step towards reform of the Montgomery County government occurred.
Don’t think for the minute that Doyal and Martin didn’t intentionally remove the citizens from the County government organization chart. They’re elitists who did everything they could to exclude citizen participation in the government.
The Golden Hammer‘s rating system follows the Platform of the Republican Party of Texas.
The Golden Hammer‘s ratings measure Commissioners Court votes that affect spending in comparison to the provisions of the Republican Party of Texas Platform. Points are good. The number of points depends upon the amount of money involved in each vote.
The Commissioners Court, all of whom claim to be Republicans, violated the Republican Party Platform on almost every vote during the March 19 meeting. They violated Plank 144 in particular, which provides:
“144. Government Spending: Government Spending is out of control at the federal, state, and local levels, and action is needed.”
The editorial staff of this newspaper sincerely hopes that Plank 144 is simple enough that even the members of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court might understand it.
Commissioners Court meeting, March 19, 2019, 9:30 a.m. All Court members were physically present.
Vote #2 (#1 was approval of the CAFR above) – 22 Budget Amendments for the current Fiscal Year 2019.
Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley continued his abuse of the asphalt and road materials account. If there’s any Commissioners Precinct which needs road materials, it’s Precinct 2 where Riley and his predecessor have failed to pay attention to pressing road and bridge issues for twenty (20) years. Driving into Precinct 2 is like entering into a third world nation with respect to the terrible condition of the roads and the horrendous mobility. In fact, it’s very much like rush hour in the Soviet Union almost every hour of the day. Therefore, it’s disgusting for Riley to take $75,000 out of his asphalt and road materials account to pay for professional services for his political contributors.
Similarly, Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack took $5,748.00 out of major road projects to use on air cards and pagers for his employees. That’s another abuse of tax dollars. Bureaucratic snafu ensnarled Noack’s office which transferred money out of and into the same account in a budget amendment. Noack also pulled $30,718 out of his slush fund to purchase a forklift.
County Judge Keough continues to struggle with the inadequate budget Doyal and the Commissioners Court left him, because Doyal spent the entire printing budget before he left office on December 31, 2018. Keough had to transfer $2,100 from supplies to printing.
County Clerk Mark Turnbull pulled $5,486.43 in “slush funds” to pay for new office expenses.
These transfers are shameful garbage which harm the taxpayers.
Major vote worth 25 points. A “No” vote was appropriate, but the measure passed unanimously.
Votes #3 to 25. Various Purchasing decisions on consent calendar. These issues need to be the subject of open discussion. For example, the Commissioners Court approved unknown contracts for unknown services in unknown departments for unknown amounts of money with Phonoscope, the corrupt fiber optic cable provider which the Davenport Ring of corrupt politicians who take their direction from political boss Marc Davenport have pushed onto the County government. Under the circumstances, a “No” vote is appropriate. Each vote is worth 25 points and yet they voted unanimously to spend the citizens’ money without deliberation. On this issue, Riley, who never prepares for Commissioners Court meetings, obviously didn’t even know for what he had voted. Let’s be fair to the ignorant, however. All of the members of the Commissioners Court approved these purchasing decisions blindly.
…the Commissioners Court approved unknown contracts for unknown services in unknown departments for unknown amounts of money with Phonoscope, the corrupt fiber optic cable provider which the Davenport Ring of corrupt politicians who take their direction from political boss Marc Davenport have pushed onto the County government.
Let the Davenport Ring and others run wild through unknown purchasing contracts! It’s really disgusting.
Vote #26 – The Commissioners Court blindly approved the Payroll Changes. This practice needs to come to an end. 5 points. “No” vote appropriate. Passed unanimously.
Vote #27 – The Commissioners Court blindly spent $7,000 on service pins for employees. 5 points. “No” vote appropriate. Passed unanimously.
County Treasurer Melanie Pryor Bush gave a presentation about her department. It was non-eventful, indicating Bush is like a breath of fresh air compared to the unnecessary drama and outright hatefulness of her predecessor, Stephanne Davenport, who was constantly at war with any County employee who would not follow the Davenport Ring’s direction.
Vote #28 – The Commissioners Court blindly approved $12,733,000.24 without oversight, discussion, deliberation, or even eyeballing. That’s disgusting. 25 points. “No” vote appropriate. Passed unanimously.
The Commissioners Court gave a pass to County Auditor Rakesh Pandey who did not provide an update about his office. Pandey should inform the Commissioners Court about his findings with respect to the operations of the County Auditor’s Office after his first quarter of a year in office.
Vote #29 – The Commissioners Court blindly approved four purchasing contracts totaling more than $866,000 without review or meaningful discussion. Under the circumstances, a “No” vote was appropriate. 10 points. Passed unanimously.
Vote #30 – The Commissioners Court appointed B.D. Griffin as County Attorney to replaced popular JD Lambright who went into the arms of the Lord. The decision to appoint Griffin was outstanding. Griffin has clearly committed to conservative values and providing legal opinions without intermingling politics. Lambright’s staff in the County Attorney’s Office is loyal to Griffin and will continue to provide their outstanding work for the citizens of Montgomery County. 25 points. “Yes” vote appropriate. Passed unanimously.
Griffin then made a dramatic announcement to the thrill of Montgomery County citizens: “As my first act in office, I’m reducing my salary.” Griffin received a standing ovation from the jubilant audience. Griffin reduced his annual salary by $22,418.50. Griffin reduced the salary of the County Attorney from $202,049.64, with benefits of $81,426.01, totaling $283,475,65, in compensation, to $179,631.14, with benefits of approximately $72,391.35, totaling $252,022.49. Griffin’s total reduction in compensation will save Montgomery County taxpayers $31,453.16 per year.
Keough reduced his own salary as his first act as County Judge paving the way for other new elected servants to do the same. Keough receives a 100 point bonus.
Vote #31 – The Commissioners Court approved a resolution opposing high speed rail, opposing the use of eminent domain and the crossing or use of County roads to facilitate high speed rail in Montgomery County or anywhere else in Texas. It passed unanimously. It was a nice gesture. 1 point.
Vote #32 – The Commissioners Court, sitting as the phony Montgomery County Toll Road Authority, voted to repay the taxpayers – by putting the money back into the County government general fund – in the amount of $425,000 they borrowed for a traffic and revenue study. The vote was unanimous. 1 point for the proper vote. Riley lied to the public and announced the repayment would occur with interest. Riley receives a 500 point deduction. Either he spoke with complete ignorance or he intentionally misled the public. Riley specializes in ignorance, so it’s probably the former.
Ratings for Commissioners Court meeting, March 19, 2019:
KEOUGH 652/672. Grade A.
MEADOR 52/672. Grade F.
RILEY -448/672. Grade F.
NOACK 52/672. Grade F.
METTS 52/672. Grade C.
The following are the cumulative scores for Fiscal Year 2019, which began October 1, 2018.
KEOUGH 2,246/2,392. Grade A.
MEADOR -314/2,935. Grade F.
RILEY -1,584/2,935. Grade F.
NOACK 1,386/2,935. Grade F.
METTS 481/2,392. Grade F.
The citizens must remain vigilant.