Conroe, June 28 – The Montgomery County Commissioners Court adopted Rules of Procedure on Tuesday, June 26, 2018, after several months of County Judge Craig Doyal changing the procedures from one meeting to the next all in an apparent attempt to block citizens from providing citizen comments during Commissioners Court meetings. The rules, which the Commissioners Court passed unanimously, enjoyed several amendments which made them far more reasonable and fair than the onerous rules Doyal had originally proposed.
Doyal had proposed the following rule among others:
Each member of the public who appears before the Commissioners Court on a specific agenda item or items shall be limited to a cumulative maximum of three (3) minutes to make his/her remarks. Time for each speaker shall be maintained by the County Judge or such other designated representative of the Commissioners Court. No speaker is permitted to accumulate speaking time from another person. Each member of the public who appears before the Commissioners Court for the general Public Comment portion of the agenda for an item or items not on the agenda shall be limited to a cumulative maximum of one (1) minute to make his/her remarks.
In other words, now Doyal wanted to reduce the speaking time for citizens who want to discuss items not on the agenda to one (1) minute!
During the June 26 discussion of the proposed rules for citizen comments, Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack and Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark proposed three very reasonable amendments all of which the Commissioners Court adopted:
- All citizen comments will have a time limit of 3 minutes. Doyal had wanted a one minute time limit for items not on the agenda but that would have prevented important policy proposals to come to the Court from citizens. Last year’s 20% homestead exemption began as a citizen comment from citizen activist Kelli Cook.
- Citizens may make more than one citizen comment each of which shall have a 3 minute time limit. Doyal had wanted to restrict each citizen to a total of 3 minutes regardless of how many items the citizen sought to discuss.
- The Commissioners Court made clear that all individuals, not just citizens, must act with appropriate decorum during Commissioners Court meetings. Inappropriate interruptions and jeering have particularly come from two elected JPs and their staffs who have disrupted the meetings with their odd behavior.
Within approximately five minutes after the Commissioners Court adopted the new Rules of Procedure, Doyal breached the rules by allowing a citizen who had not signed up to speak to come before the Commissioners Court supposedly on behalf of the San Jacinto River Authority. Since the lady from SJRA was not a member of “the county staff, elected officials, appointed officials, department heads, consultants, experts and/or members of the public requested to be present and participate,” the lady who failed to identify herself by name could not speak before the Commissioners Court without signing up to speak first. Doyal nonetheless breached the rules since the SJRA lady generally supported Doyal’s resolution under consideration before the Court at that time.
Doyal directed the Sheriff’s Office to throw private citizen – and now Executive Vice Chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party – Reagan Reed out of the April 24, 2018, meeting of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court in order to prevent Reed from speaking against the $107 million, 3 mile, TX 249 Tollway, also known as the Marc Lawrence Davenport Tollroad.
During April 24, 2018, citizen comments on the shameful $107 million Tollway that Doyal and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley are shoving down the citizens’ throats, renowned conservative Republican Precinct Chairman Reed, who is also the Houston correspondent for Empower Texans, rose to make a comment and approached the podium. Doyal angrily pointed at Reed and said, “Have a seat please! You’re not signed up to speak!”
Reed said, “I got here more than 5 minutes early. Your clerk told me I would be allowed to speak.”
In the past, Doyal has allowed citizens to speak even if they didn’t sign up to speak at all. In the past two meetings, however, without any written rules or approval from the Commissioners Court, Doyal has created his own rules that citizens must sign up to speak to the Commissioners Court at least by 9:20 a.m. Doyal’s secretary, Sylvia Olszowy, confirmed on video that “we make up the rules however we feel” in a conversation with Republican Precinct Chair Ginger Russell videotaped early Tuesday morning.
Doyal repeated, “If you don’t have a seat, you’ll be removed.” Reed answered, “If you want that to be in the press, come on.”
Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack interrupted and said, “You’re breaking your own protocol. You have done this time and time again.”
Doyal hissed, “No, I’m not” similar to the manner in which a 3-year-old might protect a toy he just grabbed from another child on the playground.
Noack responded, “You have let people who have not signed up come and speak. Come on, Judge. The people want to have a voice. Give them one.” The audience overwhelmingly chimed in that Doyal should have allowed Reed, a highly-respected leader of the Republican Party, to speak.
Sheriff’s Sergeant Billy Jordan then pulled Reed out of the Commissioners’ meeting room, arrested Reed, and required Reed to stand outside of the meeting during the entire remainder of the Commissioners Court for almost two hours.
Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley laughed while Jordan arrested Reed.
Doyal then made clear that his real intent was to prevent Reed from speaking against the Tollway: “He said the same thing every time he has come. We know what he is going to say.”