Image: Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley (shown on left) will spend “other people’s money,” i.e., tax dollars, on just about anything, as long as he doesn’t have to discuss the merits of the spending in the light of day.
The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Conroe, February 8 – On November 30, 2020, the Montgomery County Commissioners Court conducted one of its most secretive meetings in its history. November 30 was the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The Court noticed the meeting as a special meeting, so the public would have no knowledge that the meeting even occurred.
County Judge Mark Keough and his staff didn’t post the notice of the meeting until late in the afternoon on Wednesday, November 25, 2020, so no one would notice a meeting of enormous magnitude at which the Commissioners Court awarded an $11.05 million contract for construction of an unnecessary Forensics Facility to a Houston-based contractor, Brookstone, L.P., and during which the Commissioners Court held a frank discussion about another Commissioner Charlie Riley-induced spending “debacle,” in the words of some of the meeting’s participants, the $16 million Enterprise Resource Planning software which the County hastily purchased at the end of 2018 on Riley’s vote and with the support of Davenport Corruption Ring members Stephanne Davenport (fired County Treasurer) and Phyllis Martin (fired County Auditor).
Not one person attended the November 30 meeting other than County employees, because the public was unaware of the secret meeting carefully planned to keep the public away.
On September 22, 2020, with no plans, no public information, no details, no drawings of what it would look like, the Montgomery County Commissioners Court shoved construction of a Forensics Center, of questionable necessity, down the throats of Montgomery County taxpayers by a 3 to 1 vote, with debilitated Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough absent from the meeting. The Forensics Center, designed to serve the needs of Montgomery County in 2050 (!) had no written plans but only aspirations of its sponsor, Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley, to pander to the County government vendors, almost always from outside of Montgomery County, so they’ll contribute large sums of money to his campaign fund.
Riley had placed the item on the super secret “consent agenda” with no explanation whatsoever. The entire agenda item read: “Approve advertising for…Construction of Forensics Facility for Forensics.”
Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack objected to inclusion of the item on the “consent agenda” so the Commissioners Court, under the leadership of Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Meador, the senior Commissioner who ran the September 22 meeting, had to discuss the matter in the open, the last place where Riley, Meador, and Precinct 4 Commissioner James Metts, the three liberals on the Commissioners Court, would want any discussion.
Noack explained, “I’m not sure what we’re advertising for, so I was hoping to get more information. I wanted to defer until the judge is back, because this is a countywide issue.”
Riley immediately jumped into the discussion with the interjection, “I think we have plenty of information.”
County Purchasing Director Gilbert Jalomo said, “The Court would have the option to put it in phases. That’s what we’re talking about. We would have a shelled facility in the first phase.”
Riley and Jalomo both claimed that it was advisable to proceed with the project in order to get good pricing, but neither of them could provide any details whatsoever about what the Forensics Center would entail.
Noack then said, “What are the options? I have no information about it. I’ve talked to the architect once, and the information I’ve been given is there are a lot options. The last I heard was $8 million for construction, but now I’m hearing $18 to 19 million. The people in the public have no information…This will be one of the most impressive forensics centers ever built.”
Riley then meaningfully provided the following analysis, “That’s not true.”
Noack then said, “We don’t need to build now for something we need 20 years from now. Especially with changes there may be in medical advancements. We may not need to look that far ahead.”
Noack specifically referred to the fact that the County government would not need a Forensics Center by law until the County population reaches 2 million, a number the County is unlikely to reach for two decades.
Riley retorted, “We need to look that far ahead.” Clearly Riley’s priority is lining the pockets of County vendors.
Noack asked, “Do you have some pictures of what this will look like inside?”
Riley then sarcastically responded, “How many times have you seen pictures of buildings we were going to build.”
Noack replied, “I just want to know what it is we’re going to build and what the cost will be. $18 million is a lot of money.”
Riley admitted, “We don’t know what it will be.”
Jalomo then said, “Architect’s estimate is $18.1 [million]. This is the estimate from the architect.” Neither Jalomo nor Riley explained how an architect could provide such a precise estimate without plans or specifications.
Noack added, “I know it would be good to wait for the county judge to be here. I know he’d appreciate it on a countywide issue.”
Meador, always wanting to spend money on anything which would transfer tax dollars to his main supports, the County vendors, responded, “I know he’d appreciate us taking care of business. They’ve done what they were supposed to do.”
Riley made the motion and his lackey Metts second the motion.
The vote was three (Riley, Meador, Metts) in favor and one opposed (Noack), with County Judge Keough absent.
The vote on November 30 was unanimous in favor of spending $11.05 million of tax dollars for an unnecessary Forensics Facility.