Editorial: The Commissioners Court must reject lame duck Doyal’s anti-citizen punch as he tries to eliminate citizens as leading sources of policy ideas

Eric Yollick, The Golden Hammer

Apparently against the advice of the Montgomery County Attorney, elitist anti-citizen lame duck Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal now wishes to limit citizen comments after three-and-a-half years of his final four year term as a County government servant.

The problem in the decorum of County Commissioners Court meetings is Craig Doyal and most certainly not the citizens. Doyal allows his political cronies to interrupt meetings, make threatening comments towards citizens, and disrupt the proceedings. Doyal is the person who caused the false arrest of conservative Republican Precinct Chairman Reagan Reed that resulted in the County government receiving a very serious demand letter concerning violations of Reed’s basic constitutional rights.

Nevertheless, Doyal has focused his attack on shutting the citizens down rather than controlling his own terrible behavior in Court meetings. In particular, Doyal wishes to limit citizen comments to one (1) minute if they do not pertain to specific agenda items on the agenda for that particular Commissioners Court meeting. Let’s just call that Doyal’s “anti-Golden Hammer” rule wherein he thinks he’ll shut down the Golden Hammer presentation with that ridiculous rule. (He’s wrong.)

More importantly, however, what Doyal’s one-minute-rule will do is cut off the Commissioners Court from the only source of original policy thinking to which the Commissioners Court enjoys connection. Just look at what came out of citizen comments that didn’t pertain to meeting agenda items during the past two years:

  • The 20% homestead exemption, a policy proposal which brilliant citizen policy wonk Kelli Cook originated. Cook first introduced the issue to the Commissioners Court in a citizen comment that didn’t pertain to any meeting agenda item. Eventually, dozens of citizens joined Cook’s argument for the exemption, which, after persistent comments, finally passed in March, 2017.
  • Reform of the Montgomery County Animal Shelter wouldn’t have occurred without many dozens of citizen comments bringing reform issues to the Commissioners Court. The Commissioners and Doyal squirmed throughout those comments. Nevertheless, the persistence of the citizens eventually ruled the day and forced the Commissioners Court to hire rock-star-shelter-director Charles Jackson.
  • Appointment of a citizen representative on the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District would never have happened if numerous citizens hadn’t started to complain about the poor representation of County citizens that incumbent Richard Tramm provided. After numerous citizen complaints during citizen comments, the Court finally appointed former Conroe Mayor Webb Melder to fight for citizen rights on the LSGCD Board.

None of those reforms would have occurred without numerous robust citizen comments. One minute is insufficient time to discuss anything of importance. If Doyal believes one minute is enough, then perhaps he should limit members of the Commissioners Court, County vendors, and Department heads to one minute. Those people usually don’t have anything to say. The citizens, however, usually do have creative and informative comments, which, of course, is precisely what Doyal wants to stop.

One final note is that it’s important to remember the stark difference between the level of understanding of the County budget of the members of the Commissioners Court and the citizens. During the 2017 discussions of the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget, it became very apparent that the Commissioners Court members, including Doyal, only have a limited understanding of the County government budget, while many citizens have a thorough and detailed understanding of that budget. Perhaps, that’s another reason Doyal feels compelled to shut citizens down. Doyal is too busy with his golf obligations to run the County government or even to gain an understanding of it. The citizens make him look like a fool.

Of course, those golf obligations are the precise reason Doyal needs to leave Commissioners Court meetings as quickly as possible.

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