Kelli Cook, Publisher, The Golden Hammer
One of the best expressions of the American form of government comes from a statute, Section 552.001(a) of the Texas Government Code:
“Under the fundamental philosophy of the American constitutional form of representative government that adheres to the principle that government is the servant and not the master of the people, it is the policy of this state that each person is entitled, unless otherwise expressly provided by law, at all times to complete information about the affairs of government and the official acts of public officials and employees. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.”
On Tuesday night, November 26, 2019, however, Robert Walker, who is running to succeed Mike Meador as Precinct 1 Montgomery County Commissioner, made some troubling statements. Basically, Walker made clear that, when he’s elected, he will work for the interests of the other three County Commissioners – Charlie Riley of Precinct 2, James Noack of Precinct 3, and James Metts of Precinct 4 – over and above the interests of the citizens of Commissioner Precinct 1 who will have chosen him as their representative on the Commissioners Court and as their road and bridge Commissioner.
The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper reported the story yesterday in the article “During First Candidate Forum Of Election Season, County Commissioner Candidate Walker Remarks To Opponent Graff ‘Man, We Are On So Different Pages,’” The Golden Hammer, November 27, 2019.
Walker made at least three enormously disconcerting comments during the Montgomery County Pachyderm Club’s candidate forum.
Of the other members of the Commissioners Court, apparently including his first cousin Meador, Walker said, ““They’re doing as good a job as they possibly can…They’re very smart individuals and they’re excellent mentors for our community to watch. They got where they are because of their abilities.”
Walker has turned American government upside down. The “mentors” in this relationship which certain people should watch are the citizens. Walker and others who are the elected representatives are the “proteges” or the one who should be watching the mentors. Riley, Noack, and Metts are no one’s mentors, because they happened to win some elections. That’s not their purpose.
Walker needs also to understand that the County Commissioners “got where they are because of” the citizens who elected them to represent them. B. Hussein Obama didn’t get to be President of the United States because of his abilities. He got where he was, because a coalition of special interests coalesced to give him the most votes in two national elections.
Walker should also seriously re-think his comment that “They’re doing as good a job as they possibly can.” The takeaway from that remark is that the Commissioners Court cannot do anything any better than they already are. The logical inference is that a vote for Walker is a vote for more of the same. He’s not bringing any fresh ideas to improve the citizens’ plight. In reality, Walker is underselling himself.
Walker made clear that he intended to be far more conciliatory to the other members of the Commissioners Court. “If you chose to do that [reducing the salary of a County Commissioner],” Walker lectured Graff, “you would never be able to work with those other three guys…I would not drop my salary, because I’ve got to work with the others.”
Walker needs to learn that his decisions should emanate from the will of the citizens, not three politicians. If Walker is so unskilled in political matters that he won’t be able to work with his colleagues just because he makes one decision to bring their salaries into line with reason, then Walker has admitted he lacks the skills necessary to serve the citizens of Precinct 1 as their County Commissioner.
Walker needs to learn that his decisions should spring from the merits of the solution and a judgment whether a problem exists and not on whether it’s popular or unpopular with other members of the Commissioners Court.
Walker mentioned, “President Trump has got his kiddos working for him. In County politics, I don’t think there is an issue with nepotism.”
Once, former County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport told this newspaper, “By definition, nepotism is an abuse of power.”
Three of the current County Commissioners have been guilty of that “abuse of power.” Riley got a job for his wife and has his nephew as a manager on his department’s payroll. Metts gave his live-in girlfriend a huge salary to work as his (part-time) secretary and gave his first cousin a job as well. Perhaps the worst power abuser was Meador. Meador gave his brother and his granddaughter County government jobs. He gave his wife’s best friend an extraordinarily lucrative job and her daughter another lucrative job as the chief light-bulb replacement manager of the County government. Meador also put his first cousin in numerous appointed positions.
Hopefully, Walker will learn “the fundamental philosophy of the American constitutional form of representative government” before he takes office. Hopefully, he’ll learn he works for us and not government officials.
Kelli Cook is a citizen and voter of Commissioner Precinct 1.