Magnolia, October 19 – Does Montgomery County Commissioners Precinct 2 have a problem? It certainly seems like it does. Over the past 6 weeks or so, The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, and some active conservative citizens have worked together to investigate the activities of Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, his predecessor Craig Doyal who now is the County Judge, Magnolia Independent School District Superintendent Todd Stephens, and the City of Magnolia.
While posing as community servants trying to serve nonprofit purposes, it’s obvious that their activities are political promotion of Riley’s and Doyal’s careers under the pretext of “community service” while using government resources for personal and political gain. There’s something objective about ethics – right versus wrong – and everyone, other than Riley, Stephens, and the small number of individuals helping them recognize that what they’re doing is wrong. Even the former drummer of Riley’s music band conceded the point in a colloquy two days ago.
Using County property for storage of private property, ordering County employees to do motor vehicle repairs for the children of elected officials, requiring County employees to work on political campaigns during County work hours, employees taking County property and equipment home with them to use for work on political campaigns, taking public schools for political use without paying rental fees that other individuals and organizations must pay, using public parks for political events without paying the access fees others must pay, and using school district vehicles and County vehicles to transport equipment to political events and then using some of those vehicles at the events to entertain political supporters are some of the “takings” of government property going on among a small group of public officials. Obviously, Riley, Doyal, Stephens, some school district employees, and some City of Magnolia employees are involved in the inappropriate behavior.
Thanks to George Mitchell, Bruce Belin, the Amato family, and other private businesspeople, the Magnolia area now enjoys substantial growth. Although Riley, Doyal, and their colleagues are doing a very poor job reducing traffic congestion – and are even foisting a $73 million tollway project that appears that it will increase congestion – the Magnolia area has some attractive amenities and natural beauty that draw families and individuals to want to live there.
Let’s be clear. There are some wonderful public servants in the Magnolia area as well. Although Constable David Hill has a sometimes-unusual way about him, the truth is that he’s done a superb job as the Precinct 5 Constable for a long time. When the area was smaller in population, he did good work as a law enforcer and civil process server. As the area is growing, Hill’s office is taking on bigger issues such as drug traffic and violent crimes that come with any population increase. Similarly, longtime Justice of the Peace Matt Masden, who had previously worked for Hill as a Deputy Constable, does strong work as a Justice of the Peace.
Magnolia has some wonderful people in it. They deserve better than the manner in which Riley and company are using government property as their personal play toys. They deserve a government where ethics and efficiency are the fundamental values.
It’s sad that the area requires the assistance of the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Public Integrity Section and the Grand Jury – hearing testimony today – for help, but that’s where the community is. In the future, however, citizens must be vigilant, not only on Election Day but throughout the year. “Business as usual” in Precinct 2 has involved too much corruption, abuse of public property, and nepotism for a long time. The citizens, who are at the top of the County organizational chart, must step in and do their jobs: vigilance, oversight, and intervention in public discourse.