Conroe, March 31 – As The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, has previously reported, Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal, bitter over voters’ rejection of his political ambitions in the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election, has begun to hammer at all attempts at free speech during citizen comments in the Commissioners Court meetings. On Tuesday, March 27, 2018, Doyal cut a flood victim’s comments off after less than a minute, because the gentleman dared to imply that Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley has done a poor job responding to flood mitigation concerns. Doyal interrupted other citizens and made a show of his lack of interest in citizen comments by looking almost anywhere other than at citizens speaking to the Court.
At the March 27 meeting, however, Doyal permitted Darren Hess, the County government’s so-called Emergency Management Director, to drone on and on in a terrible presentation about Harvey impacts and possible assistance. Doyal also made some comments that revealed his complete lack of interest in the good of Montgomery County citizens.
Doyal would more wisely have restricted his and Hess’ comments to well under three minutes, while allowing the citizens’ comments to last quite a bit longer in order to mask Doyal’s and Hess’ lack of interest or equanimity.
Hess began his approximately 20 minute presentation by inflicting a video upon the audience in the Commissioners Courtroom that showed little more than the suffering through which Montgomery County citizens endured during Tropical Storm Harvey. That information may have been new to Doyal and Hess who seemed to spend their time during the storm issuing press releases and dressing up in SWAT-like gear for press conferences. The audience included several citizens whose homes flooded and more than a dozen law enforcement officers directly involved in relief and assistance operations during the storm. Many other people who were out in the streets during the Harvey storm helping their neighbors had to sit through a replay of the largely man-made disaster.
Hess than proceeded with a slide show that he had obviously not prepared recently, because the slides contained outdated facts. Hess even commented that the federal government and other state agencies have determined that over 4,600 homes in Montgomery County suffered flood damage during Harvey, but Hess’ slides in his presentation showed the outdated number of approximately 4,100 damaged homes instead. Hess explained that over 20% of businesses in the “flood impact zone” also suffered damage during the storm.
Hess offered very little in concrete flood relief to Harvey victims during his presentation, although he speculated about federal money that might come to Montgomery County. It became clear that, under Doyal and Hess, the County government had no plan to mitigate or prevent flooding nor does it have any means of providing relief.
Doyal expressed his primary concern near the end of Hess’ presentation: the tax dollars the County would lose in property taxes from the flood-damaged homes.
Neither Hess nor Doyal addressed the primary cause of the flooding: the San Jacinto River Authority’s terrible management of the water levels at Lake Conroe before and during the Harvey storm as well as the Authority’s abject failure “to provide flood control” over the past 83 years of its existence, even though providing flood control is the San Jacinto River Authority’s primary statutory duty throughout the watershed of the San Jacinto River, which includes all of Montgomery County. Neither Hess nor Doyal mentioned the millions of dollars in cash reserves the San Jacinto River Authority has accumulated by charging high water prices and by engaging in monopolistic practices to force Montgomery County water consumers to use its water.
The lengthy Hess-Doyal presentation seemed more like a public service advertisement to kill large swaths of time than a serious discussion of the cause of the Harvey disaster or efforts to mitigate the impacts of future storms.