Image: A young political activist ponders Montgomery County’s government ethics.
Conroe, April 4 – Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack spoke before a large crowd of conservatives at the meeting of the Montgomery County Tea Party last night. Although Noack followed a town hall format where he took questions from the audience for most of the evening, he mostly talked about County government ethics – or the lack of it – as a result of the questions which came from the floor. Noack confirmed to the room of political activists, “People around the State laugh at Montgomery County” for our ethically-challenged reputation.
Noack began his talk on a serious note. “I’m not a fan of political jokes. I just don’t like them, mainly because I’ve seen too many of them get elected,” Noack told the group. Noack discussed the history of Montgomery County’s attempts to pass an ethics code. “Three years ago, I came forward with a 13 bullet-point ethics policy, which included that members of Commissioners Court would not vote to give County contracts to people with whom they do business [personally]. The policy passed unanimously, but, obviously, with Judge [Craig] Doyal and Halff Associates, no one took it very seriously.”
Noack complimented County Attorney J.D. Lambright for his work on a robust ethics package. The crowd recognized and applauded Lambright for his courageous stand during the March 28 Commissioners Court meeting during which he strongly advised the Court not to place political cronies or recent former County employees on the Ethics Committee which has some ability to reprimand County employees for breaching the Ethics Code. The Commissioners Court finally adopted a Code of Ethics after the Texas Department of Transportation threatened to cut off all state funding to Montgomery County for roads and highways, unless the County adopted an ethics policy by February 7, 2017.
Noack expressed concern about the method of appointing the members of the 5-member Ethics Committee. “One person is appointed from each of the County Human Resources, Purchasing and Auditor Departments, all of which are under Judge Doyal’s control. The other two committee members receive appointment from the Commissioners Court which Doyal also controls. I recommended a lady from south Montgomery County who supported both me and Judge Doyal politically, but the Commissioners Court didn’t even consider her,” Noack explained.
“It’s great to have an ethics policy but we need to make it enforceable,” the Commissioner said. “If you want an ethical county, you’ll have to elect ethical people. Do not depend on a Code of Ethics to take people who don’t have an internal moral compass to a place in their hearts with ethics.”
Noack also discussed the nepotism that runs rampant throughout Montgomery County’s government. For example, Doyal’s daughter Lindsey works in the County Treasurer’s Department. Doyal recently tried to procure a major promotion for his daughter but disclosure of the machinations of Doyal in that regard blew up when Human Resources Director Dodi Shaw complained about Doyal’s actions in a letter on February 13, 2017, which she sent to the entire Commissioners Court. Additionally, in November and December of 2016, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley secretly created a new job position and then filled that position with his wife, Deanne Riley, just a few weeks later.
Noack filed criminal charges against the Rileys for violation of the anti-nepotism law in the Texas Local Government Code. The District Attorney decided not to prosecute. “Nepotism can ruin an organization,” Noack reiterated to the crowd to which he spoke.
Noack also expressed his surprise at what he called the “unprofessional and appalling” conduct of County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport when, during the March 14, 2017, Commissioners Court meeting, Davenport openly criticized Shaw for a “complete lack of integrity.”
“People are really tired of what they’re seeing in the Montgomery County government,” Noack observed.