New Caney, March 21 – There’s a giant contrast in work habits of Precinct 4 Montgomery County Commissioner Jim Clark and his May 22, 2018, Republican Runoff Election challenger James Metts. Clark works long hours in his Commissioner’s job, while Metts is almost never at work as a Justice of the Peace.
Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace James Metts still hasn’t reported to work for several weeks. There are no court hearings scheduled in the JP 4 court other than criminal matters which the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office handles without Metts’ presence. Metts’ staff has received instructions not to schedule court hearings indefinitely.
As this newspaper has previously reported, Metts draws a salary of $126,988.38 plus County benefits of $51,154.15 per year, for total annual compensation of $178,142.53. Unfortunately, Metts has chosen not to work, while, instead, focusing on his other two full-time jobs, logging and running Sweetie Pie’s flower shop and restaurant with his girlfriend Diane Rogers.
Interestingly, Rogers, Metts’ girlfriend, who co-owns Sweetie Pie’s with Metts, rarely works as well in the JP 4 court. Rogers draws a County salary of $42,339.18, plus County benefits of $17,062.69 per year, for total annual compensation of $59,401.87. Rogers reports directly to Metts, who is her supervisor, as the Juvenile Court Coordinator.
Since Metts hasn’t held a juvenile court docket for several months – at least since early November – Rogers’ job as Juvenile Court Coordinator likely doesn’t hold a lot of responsibilities for anyone, but the taxpayers who must foot the bill for Rogers’ and Metts’ salary.
Meanwhile, the Montgomery County Auditor’s Office has conducted a so-called “audit” of Metts’ office. Since the County Auditor, Phyllis Martin, is not a certified public accountant and does not follow Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, the JP4 Department audit consists of little more than counting the amount of cash on hand in Metts’ Department and checking the time sheets of Metts’ employees.
Any audit of Metts’ employees’ time sheets would present its own challenges. Metts only requires four of his employees, the clerks, to keep their time closely. Metts’ girlfriend, Rogers, his cousin, Jane Metts Landers, and several other employees who are nepotistic hires (i.e., family members of other County employees) do not clock in and out for breaks or for meals, as do the four clerks. Therefore, the time sheets of Metts’ favored employees reflect merely whatever entries they place on those documents.
Metts is currently running for Precinct 4 County Commissioners against incumbent Jim Clark. Metts and his son have a lucrative contract with the Texas Department of Transportation to perform logging and clearing services on the TX 249 Tollway, also known as the Decimation of Hope Highway. Therefore, it is not surprising that Metts has refused to sign a pledge that he wouldn’t support a tollroad’s construction or financing without voter approval first.
Clark, in contrast, works long hours as the Precinct 4 County Commissioner. It’s a rare occasion when Clark isn’t at work either in meetings or attending to Precinct 4 Commissioner’s business by 7 a.m. Clark was in his office at 6:45 a.m. the morning after the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election, even though he celebrated the results in a late night celebration with a group of his supporters the previous night.
“I love my job and couldn’t imagine not giving the taxpayers of East Montgomery County everything they deserve in a hardworking County Commissioner,” Clark said in an interview with The Golden Hammer. “Normally, I attend meetings outside of the office in mornings but often I’ll try to get there early before those meetings to make sure that the crews are ready to get their work done for the citizens each day. I’m usually in the office in the afternoons and all day Saturday. I love attending community functions in the evening and then I’ll continue working on County business at home usually after dinner with my wife.”
Clark’s wife, Kelly Osborn Clark, has bemoaned his extremely long work hours on several occasions.