Image: “Shuddup shutting up!” (Warner Brothers. Bugs Bunny with Gangster.)
Conroe, June 14 – Despite the fact that he, as presiding officer of the Commissioners Court, is the person who is to maintain order during meetings, Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal, with the assistance of his sidekick Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, continuously interrupted Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack and Precinct 4 Commissioner Jim Clark as they dared to express opposition to Montgomery County funding and take the financial risk on the Decimation of Hope Highway, the $73 million 3.6 mile Tx-249 tollway, which would be one of the most expensive highways ever built in American history.
During the June 13, 2017, Commissioners Court meeting, after a carefully-staged group of presentations in favor of the highway boondoggle mostly from business owners and chambers of commerce from outside of Montgomery County, Doyal gave a canned speech in favor of the project. After Doyal’s little speech, Riley then attempted to read the resolution which he wanted the Commissioners Court to adopt, although he failed ever to provide a copy of the resolution to his Court colleagues and had great difficulty completing the reading project.
The fireworks began, however, when Noack spoke.
Noack began his comments, “I fully believe 249 would greatly benefit all of Montgomery County, but it should be built by TxDOT [the Texas Department of Transportation, which has already committed to funding and completing the project using state and federal tax dollars that would come into Montgomery County for that purpose]. There’s no reason for Montgomery County to build, fund, or maintain that road.”
Noack continued his criticism of Doyal and Riley and the proposed risky road venture, “For two years you have talked about wanting to be just like Harris County. I have no desire to mimic Harris County or any other counties. I became a commissioner to lead, not follow.”
At that point, Doyal began to attempt to interrupt Noack, even though Noack had let Doyal complete his canned presentation without interruption. Noack continued, “Harris County approved [their toll road projects]…in a referendum, so if you want to follow them, then we should allow voters to decide.”
Doyal interrupted, “I’m not going to do that. If you do one project in a referendum, it will fail!”
Noack continued to criticize the financing cost of Montgomery County utilizing expensive revenue bonds, since Doyal and Riley refuse to proceed with a referendum to permit voters to vote up or down for the County to finance the project: “You’ve said the project would be more than 40 basis points on $80 million. People refinance their homes for less than 40 basis points.” The room broke into applause.
Then Commissioner Noack challenged Doyal, “If you want so badly want to prove your entrepreneurial skills, I suggest you go to private sector to do that…If your job [in the county government] is to make money, I’d close the community centers and reopen them as Chick-Fil-As or Starbucks.”
Commissioner Clark added, “While this project is very much needed…what I can’t understand is to think we should put taxpayers’ money at risk when TxDOT is standing in the wings ready to pay. I talked to [TxDOT Regional Director] Quincy Allen myself…We can’t even keep the toll road flyovers clean. Let’s let them [TxDOT] pay us back, do away with Montgomery County tollroads, and let’s dissolve the Montgomery County Toll Road Authority.”
Doyal quickly cut Clark off. He permitted Riley to speak and say, “I appreciate everyone coming today to speak in support of project.”
Doyal immediately called for a vote, even though Noack and Clark clearly had other points they wanted to make. Doyal, Riley, and Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador voted for the interests of their top political contributors to support the highway boondoggle, while Clark and Noack voted against Riley’s phantom resolution.
[PREVIEW OF TOMORROW’S ARTICLE: THE TRUTH BEHIND WHY DOYAL AND RILEY AREN’T BUILDING THE FULL 15 MILES OF TX-249 THAT’S PASSING THROUGH MONTGOMERY COUNTY BUT ONLY A 3.6 MILE CHUNK OF IT.]