Conroe, February 8 – County Judge Craig Doyal, his Commissioner colleagues on the County Commissioners Court (Meador, Riley, Clark), and County Attorney J.D. Lambright have defied the Texas and National Republican Party Platforms in their major decisions in office. The problems arise primarily in government spending, toll roads, and taxation.
The Republican Party of Texas adopted its Platform at the Republican State Convention on May 14, 2016. Party leaders and activists developed the Platform through a lengthy process that began at the local Precinct Conventions the night of the Republican Primary Election. The Senatorial District Conventions around Texas two weeks later further refined recommendations to the State Party before final debate and adoption of the Platform in Dallas at the State level. The Republican National Platform arose from a similar process in which the Republican Nominee, Donald J. Trump, had a major influence. The Republican National Party adopted its Platform on July 20, 2016, after lengthy Platform Committee investigations, hearings, and debates.
The Golden Hammer rates the votes of the County Judge and four Commissioners during Commissioners Court meetings. The ratings reflect core conservative values, fiscal conservative planks in the State and National GOP Platforms, and an expectation that (1) the elected representatives should investigate and understand the matters upon which they are voting, and (2) there should be transparency, open discussion, and open deliberation of matters affecting the fiscal welfare of the County government, the taxpayers, and the citizens. To date and beginning October 1, 2016, the commencement of Fiscal Year 2017, Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack has the strongest voting record, while Precinct 4 Commissioner Jim Clark and Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Meador have the worst voting records.
County Judge Doyal and the Commissioners (other than Noack) have approved every spending proposal that has appeared before them. County Attorney J.D. Lambright has caused a spending explosion in his own salary and the spending policies of his office. Furthermore, he has enabled several expenditures by rationalizing the ethics and legality of those expenditures.
Since 2000, while Montgomery County’s population has grown 84.17%, the County government’s spending has increased by a massive 428.09% to an annual budget of $381 million. Doyal, Meador, Riley, and Clark have displayed substantial ignorance with respect to what the County budget even contains. They have failed to manage County government operations and have little knowledge or regard for waste, inefficiency, or downright corrupt spending practices.
Doyal has recently attempted to argue that “fiscal conservatism” should mean growth in government spending at the rate of the population growth. Even by that measure, Doyal and his colleagues are wild-eyed Marxists far beyond the left edge of fiscal liberalism.
The Republican Party of Texas Platform in 2016 observed that “government spending is out of control…” but has focused more on federal and state spending. The GOP Platform does, however, demand “zero-based budgeting all levels of government,” a requirement which several citizens have requested during the past eight months and which Doyal and his colleagues have openly rejected. The Platform also demands “a policy of requiring public audits of each governmental department at least every three years.” Doyal and cohorts have also defied that Plank of the Platform.
The Republican National Platform contains similar provisions, particularly after the Trump campaign and Ted Cruz campaigns heavily influenced the content of the 2016 National GOP Platform.
Craig Doyal and Charlie Riley, with the legal assistance of County Attorney Lambright, have pushed through approximately $12 million of funding for a $100 million 3.6 mile Tx-249 “Decimation of Hope Highway” Toll Road project, at the far southwest edge of Montgomery County. The primary beneficiary of that funding has been Halff Associates, Inc., engineers, the firm of Bobby Jack Adams, Doyal’s best friend and business partner. Halff has enjoyed an approximately $2 million contract to provide oversight of this unnecessary spending project.
Voters have never approved the Tx-249 extension toll road and Doyal has no plans to submit the issue to voters. Doyal has publicly stated that the $100 million extension toll road would be a money-maker for Montgomery County after the tolls pay off the expenses of the massive project in the decades it will require to recoup the massive expenditures. Since Doyal’s current proposal is to finance the Tx-249 extension with revenue bonds and possibly with County certificates of obligation, the taxpayers’ credit will squarely be at risk with this spending project to benefit Doyal’s and Riley’s engineering and contracting political cronies.
The 2016 Republican Party of Texas Platform holds that “tolls should come off the road when the debt is retired…We oppose the use of taxpayer money to subsidize, guarantee, prop-up, or bail out any toll projects, whether public or private.”
Doyal and Riley are squarely violating core Republican tenets with their desperate activities to build the $100 million Tx-249 extension. No other spending proposal presents a greater threat to the fiscal health of Montgomery County than this free spending waste of tax dollars.
The GOP Platform mandates that “property taxes should be paid on the price of the property when it was initially purchased.” Doyal and his Commissioners Court colleagues, through the artifice of the Montgomery Central Appraisal District, a County-funded department on the Board of which Commissioners Meador and Riley serve and comprise a majority with former Commissioner Ed Chance, impose massive tax increases on Montgomery County citizens through skyrocketing Appraisal District increases in some cases many times the original price at which citizens purchased their properties.
The GOP Platform prohibits the “diversion of property taxes to build, subsidize, or guarantee the loans of toll projects,” which is precisely what Doyal and Riley have implemented with respect to their Tx-249 Decimation of Hope Highway project.
Doyal, Riley, Meador, and Clark are the darlings of the engineering and road contracting community which pays them hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions each year. The real estate development community in Montgomery County has begun to come to the realization that skyrocketing property taxes don’t help real estate sales.
What Doyal, Riley, Meador, Clark, and Lambright have offended most squarely is the Platform of the Republican Party.