Eric Yollick, The Golden Hammer
Lame duck, angry, vengeful outgoing Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal has placed the following item on the agenda for the Tuesday, December 11, 2018, Commissioners Court meeting: “CONSIDER, DISCUSS AND TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION TO RETURN OVERSIGHT OF COUNTY DEPARTMENTS TO THE COMMISSIONERS COURT.”
Doyal and his sidekick, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, are fooling no one. It is apparent that this action has two purposes, one immediate and one long-term.
The immediate purpose is that Riley and Doyal wish to continue to terrorize poor County government Human Resources Director Dodi Shaw, even after Doyal has gone. Shaw is a member of Doyal’s and now Riley’s “Hit List” of County government employees they want to terminate. Riley tried to terminate Shaw on November 13, 2018, but Shaw outsmarted him (not a formidable task) and County citizen support for Shaw scared Riley away from his abominable plan to terminate her in a secret executive session at the end of that meeting.
Ever since November 13, however, Riley has terrorized Shaw continuously. First, he met with Shaw and Assistant County Attorney B.D. Griffin and made clear that Shaw may not provide any public information to anyone about Riley. (Riley has never cared much for the concept of “open government” or for the provisions of the Texas Public Information/Open Records Act.)
Second, after an article appeared in The Golden Hammer referring to public information this newspaper had obtained from the Human Resources Department over two years ago that revealed that Riley didn’t even go through the pretext of interviewing or posting a job position Riley had created for his wife Deanne to fleece taxpayers, Riley again confronted Shaw and threatened her to stop providing any information, regardless of whether Texas has a policy of “open government” or not. Several employees of the Montgomery County Attorney’s Office notified The Golden Hammer of Riley’s continuous threats. They’re obviously sick of him, as all citizens who believe in open government or who oppose threats by an elected servant against a hardworking County employee should be.
With County Judge-Elect Mark Keough coming into office on January 1, 2019, he would have the ability to shield Shaw from Riley’s continual acts of terrorist threats against the highly-professional Shaw, because under the current organization of the County government, the County Judge, not the entire Commissioners Court, is Shaw’s boss. Riley wants to have the ability to threaten Shaw constantly, because Riley knows that he cannot allow public information inside the government to reach the hands of citizens, this newspaper, or, especially, local law enforcement. (Riley, who is already under criminal indictment, now faces a Grand Jury investigation concerning his use of government property, employees, resources, and services for personal and political purposes.)
There’s a second reason, however, that Doyal and Riley want to change the manner in which the County government operates before Doyal leaves office. On January 26, 2015, Doyal, Riley, and Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador transferred the oversight of County Departments to Doyal and away from the Commissioners Court, so that Doyal could swiftly act to terminate political foe Mark Bosma and bring other County Departments under his political threats. In February and March, 2017, Noack and Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark tried twice to place County government oversight back in the hands of the Commissioners Court, as the Texas Constitution requires. Riley objected, because he didn’t want that responsibility (as he can’t handle his job responsibilities as a road and bridge commissioner in Precinct 2 let alone have to oversee the entire County government.) Meador and Riley both objected, because they said “why change a system that’s working?” In March, 2018, Noack tried again to turn the oversight back to the Commissioners Court, but Riley, Meador, and Doyal voted against that action.
Now, however, Doyal cannot control his anger and his strong need for vengeance against the reform-minded Keough. Doyal, who has three weeks left in the position of County Judge, clearly seeks to prevent Keough from succeeding as much as Doyal possibly can. Therefore, Doyal and Riley seek to change a basic policy of the Commissioners Court to harm Keough and to set that policy beyond December 31.
There is no question that, eventually, such as within the first 90 days or so after Keough comes into office and has an opportunity to view the lay of the land from the inside, the Commissioners Court should resume its oversight function, although something should happen to prevent Riley from continuing to terrorize Dodi Shaw or other employees in the Sadler Administration Building. Riley’s desire for secret government is a violation of ethics and of the Texas Government Code. The new Commissioners Court needs to address the Riley problem when it does take up returning oversight back to the Commissioners Court as it belongs. Perhaps, the solution will be to make clear that no one member of the Commissioners Court may perform any function other than oversight but the entire Commissioners Court together in open meetings (not Riley’s secret ones) may set County policy.
Hopefully, Noack and Clark will do the right thing and vote “NO” on Tuesday. Hopefully, Meador will join them for his own reasons.