Government largesse has thrust moral issues into Montgomery County local government elections

Conroe, January 16 – The massive size of the Montgomery County government, and its growth into areas such as centralized economic planning, the size and shape of families, and gigantic staffs of friends, family members, and political supporters, has thrust moral issues into a central position in the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election. Clearly, the Montgomery County government does a poor job reflecting the fundamentally conservative values and lifestyles of the community of Montgomery County, which is solidly conservative, Republican, and Pro-Family.

While this newspaper’s purpose is to report on issues revealing the need for government reform and a substantial reduction in government size and spending, it’s become pretty apparent that moral issues have become relevant as a result of the multiplicity of the activities into which Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and his colleagues have pushed citizen tax dollars.

Under Doyal and those who consistently vote with him on the Montgomery County Commissioners Court, the Montgomery County government has seriously considered engaging in for-profit businesses in direct competition with private markets, providing medical and legal services previously left to the private sector, overseeing families and parenting relationships, and even providing retail services. Doyal has put the Montgomery County government into the position that it’s one of the few local government entities in the United States that actually provides foreign aid.

The following are just three examples of moral issues that have surfaced during the 2018 Republican Primary Election campaign.

Same-sex marriage

In a 5 to 4 decision, in Obergefell versus Hodges, the United States Supreme Court ruled on Friday, June 26, 2015, that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution  requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state. The five-Justice majority consisted of Anthony Kennedy, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. The four-Justice dissenting minority included Chief Justice John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito.

States were very aware that the decision would come that day, so many states, including Texas, had prepared revisions to marriage licenses and related official documents for the change.

On Thursday, June 25, 2015, a lesbian couple from Harris County came into the Montgomery County Clerk’s Office and requested a marriage license. The County Clerk, Mark Turnbull, refused the license that day in accordance with the provisions of the Texas Family Code. Turnbull did, however, inform the couple that they should wait to see what would happen over the next few days.

On Saturday, June 27, 2015, Montgomery County, under direction from the Office of the Attorney General of Texas and under the guidance of the Montgomery County Attorney’s Office, did a practice run with the new computer forms which the state government had issued, provided training to the office employees, and issued a license to the Harris County lesbian couple. The office then closed for the remainder of the day on Saturday.

In other words, in accordance with direction from federal and state officials, Montgomery County issued the first same-sex marriage license in this community on June 27, 2015, despite the conservative nature of the people who live here.

On Thursday, January 11, 2018, the two candidates for the Republican nomination for Montgomery County Clerk faced each other in a candidates forum before the Montgomery County Eagle Forum, one of the most conservative organizations in Montgomery County. The two candidates are long time Montgomery County Clerk Mark Turnbull and a challenger, Jeanie Stewart.

Two audience members – James Byers and Maureen Ball – asked the candidates questions about Obergefell and the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Jeanie Stewart, Candidate for Montgomery County Clerk in the 2018 Republican Primary Election.

Stewart answered the question first whether she would follow the law and issue a license to a same-sex couple. Initially, Stewart said she would do so: “To an extent, yes.”

 Stewart added, “As far as what the law requires, I will do everything that the law requires me to do. I do not agree with same-sex marriage. But regardless of whatever the situation is, if I’m required to do it by law, I will follow the law.”
Turnbull responded, “The Supreme Court issued the opinion and that’s the law of the land. The Governor of Texas agreed. The Lieutenant Governor agreed. The Attorney General of Texas agreed and told us we had to proceed with issuing those licenses. I also spoke with an Assistant County Attorney who advised me I had to proceed. It’s a settled issue as far as I’m concerned.”

Clearly, both candidates feel that it’s not their job to create the law but merely to follow it, as the county clerks of the other 253 counties in Texas have also done.

Both Turnbull and Stewart appear Pro-Family. The question of how far a County Clerk should go to cooperate with a pronouncement, even from the United States Supreme Court, continues to vex jurisdictions across America.

It’s the question of the “Doctrine of the Lower Magistrate” which has perplexed Americans since the adoption of the United States Constitution to establish a federal system of jurisdiction with state governments on equal footing with the federal government. The “Lesser Magistrate Doctrine” teaches that when the superior or higher ranking civil authority makes immoral/unjust laws or policies, the lower or lesser ranking civil authority has both a right and duty to refuse obedience to that superior authority. If necessary, the lesser authorities may even actively resist the higher authority in the opinion of those who support the concept. The Doctrine is very controversial to say the least.

Doyal’s support of transgender adoptions

 

Partying it up: right to left: Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal, Emily McKinney, Terri Jaggers, Conroe City Councilman Duane Ham, Amy Doyal.

The issue of transgender adoptions is actually far more disturbing, because of the manner in which Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and his supporters politicized the issue as well as how they pushed through a Commissioners Court proclamation supporting adoptions by transgender individuals without proper notice to the remainder of the Commissioners Court.

On November 14, 2017, Doyal tricked the Commissioners Court into supporting unanimously two proclamations in favor of transgender adoptions of children. After this newspaper reported the story on Thursday, November 16, there was a gigantic citizen outcry for the Commissioners Court to amend the pro-transgender adoption resolutions – tucked in two proclamations favoring adoptions in general.

Many citizens had even called for an emergency Commissioners Court meeting to rescind or amend the pro-transgender adoption proclamation. Doyal sponsored the resolutions and ignored the citizen outcry. A close friend of Doyal’s read the two proclamations aloud during the November 14 meeting. The Commissioners Court then voted unanimously to support the resolutions, including the transgender adoption language. Amazingly, Doyal and each County Commissioner then signed the two proclamations to show their support of them.

During a Montgomery County Tea Party meeting on November 20, 2017, Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark made clear that he wouldn’t have supported the two proclamations if Doyal had not hidden the anti-family language from the Commissioners Court prior to the meeting.

On November 21, 2017, the Texas Pastors Council, a leading pro-family organization, issued a letter condemning the Montgomery County Commissioners Court adoption proclamations due to the “anti-family social agenda” language contained in those unanimously-passed documents. The Council called for the Commissioners Court to take swift corrective action to remove the offensive language from the two otherwise pro-adoption resolution.

Doyal ignored the clamor of Montgomery County citizens and of the Texas Pastors Council. As a result, Clark had to take charge and get the anti-family policy excised from Montgomery County’s government.

While incurring the wrath of liberal Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal who had sponsored Montgomery County Adoption Day and Adoption proclamations that included language supporting transgender adoptions, on December 12, 2017, Clark yesterday faced the anti-family Doyal and led the move to amend those proclamations by removing the pro-transgender and pro-same-sex adoption language.

Doyal clearly was irked that Clark wouldn’t back down from trying to remove the offensive anti-family language from Doyal’s November 14 proclamations.

When it became apparent that Clark wouldn’t withdraw his motion, Doyal called upon a lady from Georgia in the audience who spoke in favor of transgender and same-sex adoptions “because the children approve of those adoptions.” By staging the pro-transgender adoption speech during the Commissioners Court, just as Doyal often stages pro-tollroad speakers, Doyal made it clear that he supports transgender and same-sex adoptions.

After Doyal’s attempt to make the anti-family argument didn’t work through the lady from Georgia, Doyal called on one of his political supporters who, once again, apologized for the anti-family language in the adoption proclamations which she and Doyal and put forward on November 14 and asked the Commissioners Court to adopt Clark’s motion by excising the offensive language from the pro-adoption resolutions.

At that point, Clark’s motion passed by a unanimous vote of the Commissioners Court, so that transgender adoptions are no longer the favored policy of the representatives of the citizens of Montgomery County. It shouldn’t have been that difficult.

Clark explained, “I have always been a big supporter of adoptions. The proclamation that the Commissioners Court passed, however, doesn’t reflect the values that I believe or those of the people of Montgomery County. As a Commissioner, I want to clarify that the Commissioners Court supports adoptions but doesn’t necessarily support adoptions by transgender or other groups. We’re pro-family and don’t support anti-family values.”

Doyal clearly took sides on this issue squarely in favor of transgender and same-sex adoptions. Clark led the opposition within the Commissioners Court.

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is a moral issue, because it represents an abuse of power when a County government supervisor sexually harasses an employee responsible to him. Of course, the most stark problem related to sexual harassment in the Montgomery County government is Precinct 4 JP James Metts who is seeking a promotion to Precinct 4 County Commissioner in the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election. Metts won’t talk about the issue or really any others, for that matter.

Left to right: JP James Metts, County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport, political boss and consultant Marc Davenport.

Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace James Metts is not the only sexual harassment problem in the Montgomery County government, although he most definitely remains such a problem. The following factual circumstance is real and somewhat recent.

A former County Commissioner had several sexual relationships with County employees while he served as an elected official in the Montgomery County government. One of his girlfriends lost her job at a local nonprofit organization, so the Commissioner hired her to work for him. They eventually stopped sleeping together but had to work together in the uncomfortable circumstance of having broken up with each other after a long relationship.

He then had another sexual relationship with a different County employee who worked directly for him. They also broke up but had to continue to work together.

Finally, the Commissioner had a sexual relationship with an employee who reported directly to him and managed his office. They had a bad breakup. One day, she keyed one of the County vehicles in the Commissioner’s Precinct and caused substantial damage. The Commissioner quickly arranged for a transfer of the vandalizing former girlfriend to a constable’s office where she now works.

The foregoing factual scenario illustrates several of the major problems that sexual harassment and sexual relationships among County employees can cause. It’s obviously a terrible idea for a County supervisor to have a sexual relationship with one of his or her employees. The breakups, which often do occur, get ugly and often result in sexual harassment claims by one of the two people who had been in the previously consenting relationship.

It’s also apparent that sexual harassment and sexual relationships between a County government employee, who is a supervisor, and the supervisor’s employees is a form of abuse of power. Even if the relationship doesn’t start out as an abuse of power, it rapidly gets there.

Those are just some of the pitfalls in sexual harassment and sexual relationships between County employees.

Past sexual harassment problems in the Montgomery County government

Since these factual circumstances involve sex, there are many rumors and innuendos of sexual harassment and sexual relationships in the recent past in the Montgomery County government. Since this newspaper only deals in fact rather than rumor or hypothesis, there are some very specific scenarios which The Golden Hammer has confirmed:

JP James Metts and Delonna Snow.

In response to a formal Charge which JP employee Delonna Snow filed against Montgomery County and James Metts, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined Metts terminated Snow in November, 2006, in retaliation for Snow’s rejection of Metts’ sexual advances. The EEOC made the following findings:
  • Since May 2004, Snow “was subjected to harassment of a sexual nature by her immediate supervisor [Metts].”
  • “Among other things, the supervisor [Metts] discussed his sex life in…[Snow’s] presence and told jokes of a sexual nature.”
  • After Snow “complained of the harassment and continued to reject the advances of her immediate supervisor [Metts], he began systematically retaliating against her, ultimately terminating her employment.”
  • In 2004, Metts initially asked Snow “for dates, offered her gifts and money and created the impression among other staff that he and…[Snow] were romantically involved.”
  • Snow alleged that on the occasion when she “rejected his advances and refused his offer of money, he threatened to hit her.”
  • “The harassment stopped for a period after she complained, but started up again and intensified in August and September 2006.”
  • Metts “created a sexually hostile work environment by discussing his sex life in the presence of…[Snow], as well as other staff, and telling jokes of a sexual nature.”
  • Snow would tell Metts “that his comments were more information then [sic] she needed to know, refuse to participate in those discussions or leave the area.”
  • “Documentary evidence obtained during the investigation shows that Respondent [Montgomery County] failed to follow policy when…[Snow] was issued a Third Level disciplinary action and subjected to immediate termination of employment…” because Snow never received First or Second level disciplinary actions, a violation of the Montgomery County Employment Policy in place at the time.
  • Montgomery County admitted to EEOC that “the termination of…[Snow] was initiated and carried out by” Metts.
  • “Therefore, based on the analysis of the evidence, the Commission concludes that the evidence obtained during the investigation establishes that Respondent violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended with respect to Delonna Snow’s allegations of sex discrimination and retaliation.”
  • “Therefore, based on the analysis of the evidence, the Commission concludes that the evidence obtained during the investigation establishes that Respondent violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended with respect to Delonna Snow’s allegations of sex discrimination and retaliation.” – United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
On October 19, 2012, Snow filed a lawsuit Complaint in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. In Snow’s lawsuit, Case 4:12-CV-03130, Delonna Snow versus Montgomery County, Texas, she told the court:
  •  Snow began working full-time as Metts’ Court Coordinator in September, 2003.
  • Snow had worked for 12 years for Precinct 1 without incident prior to working for Metts.
  • “Beginning in May 2004…[Snow] became aware of the perception that she was Judge Metts’ girlfriend and that they were romantically involved…That perception was reinforced by Judge Metts’ action and comments towards Ms. Snow and about her…In addition, on one occasion, Judge Metts refused to attend a Rotary Club dinner unless…[Snow] agreed to accompany him to the dinner, which was held in May 2004…During May and June 2004, Judge Metts increased his romantic advances towards Ms. Snow, as well as his efforts to pry into…[Snow’s] personal life.”
  • Judge Metts started asking Snow “questions about who she was dating, and continually asked her to go out with him.”
  • “Judge Metts tried to give…[Snow] gifts along with his attempts to get her to go out with him on a date.”
  • “On more than one occasion Judge Metts tried to give Plaintiff ‘spending’ money, which Plaintiff always refused.”
  • “On one occasion when…[Snow] refused to take Judge Metts’ money, Judge Metts became agitated and threatened to strike…[Snow].”
  • Snow complained to co-employee Jerry Sue Hayden, the mother of Precinct 4 Constable Kenneth “Rowdy” Hayden, and to Judge Metts’ campaign manager, Marc Davenport. After Davenport arranged a brief leave of absence for Snow, when Snow returned to the office “Judge Metts became more flirtatious and continued to require Ms. Snow to attend public events with him outside normal business hours.”
  • Metts’ advances continued and intensified into 2005, but in August 2005, “Judge Metts began excluding…[Snow] from staff meetings, even though…[Snow] was the office administrator.”
  • Metts continued making inappropriate sexual comments to Snow even after she got engaged in November, 2005.
  • Judge Metts finally found a girlfriend. “He would often tell the particulars of his relationship with Diane Rogers to Marsha Edwards (another Precinct 4 employee) in open areas of the office.”
  • “During 2006, Judge Metts continued to tell inappropriate stories about his sex life and jokes of a sexual nature at the office and within earshot of the employees…Ms. Snow continued to leave the area or in some instances tell Judge Metts that his comments were more information than she needed to know.”
  • “Judge Metts’ discussions about sex with his girlfriend intensified in August and September 0f 2006.”
  • “In October 2006, Ms. Rogers, Judge Metts’ girlfriend, was hired to work as the Juvenile Case Manger [sic].”
  • Later that month, Metts reduced Snow’s duties and changed the locks at his office, so that Snow no longer had a key to the office.
  • After attempting some pretexts to complain about Snow’s work, all of which Judge Metts’ Chief of Staff Brian Stanley determined were unfounded, Metts terminated Snow on November 30, 2006, without any First or Second Level Disciplinary action in violation of County policy.
  • Snow sued the County government for Sexual Harassment and Retaliation under Title VII.
On August 4, 2014, the Montgomery County Commissioners Court voted to pay $45,000 to Snow to settle the sexual harassment lawsuit. Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador made the motion and then-Precinct 2 County Commissioner Craig Doyal seconded the motion. All of the funds for the settlement came from taxpayer dollars paid into the County’s general fund and paid out to settle the sexual harassment claims as a result of Metts.
The Commissioners Court vote was unanimous in order to bring the messy Metts – Snow litigation finally to a close.
Snow left this community. Metts remains a JP, especially since the primary newspaper in existence at the time, The Courier, never reported the story. That publication, known now as “the Courier blog,” only reported the Metts story after The Golden Hammer broke the story and actually quite a while afterwards.

Amazingly, even after the County and Metts suffered the embarrassment of the Snow EEOC Charge and federal lawsuit, Metts seems to have continued in his ways.

Metts currenly has a romantic relationship with his Juvenile Case Manager, Dianne Rogers, for whom Metts is her direct County government supervisor. Rogers earns $42,340 per year in salary plus benefits and holds a full-time position with the County government.
Rogers only works until approximately 1 p.m. four days per week for a total of approximately 22.5 hours per week for what the County has designated and pays as a full-time position.
Metts and his girlfriend, who is a full-time County employee, also own a restaurant and flower shop in Splendora by the name of Sweetie Pie’s together. The public may often find Metts’ girlfriend managing their restaurant and flower shop during regular County business hours.
Metts, however, is largely absent from his office. He holds court approximately only six (6) days per month during a typical month. That works out to working in the courtroom or office only about twelve hours per week on average with another approximately 5.25 hours per week appearing at death scenes. In other words, Metts works less than 18 hours per week in return for his whopping $126,988.35 annual salary, plus County benefits of approximately $51,176.31, for total annual compensation of approximately $179,164.66.

Metts regularly brags to his court staff that he works “three full-time jobs.” As Metts explains it, he works as a JP, as a full-time “president of a logging/clearing business,” and as the co-manager of Sweetie Pies, the Splendora restaurant which he and his girlfriend Dianne Rogers operate together.

Metts and Rogers live together. They are not married. The real peril for Montgomery County taxpayers would arise if Metts and Rogers ever ended their romantic relationship and broke up. That’s where the serious problems with sexual harassment claims easily arise in circumstances where County employees recklessly have sexual relationships with people whom they directly supervise.

These problems are moral issues. The taxpayers pay the price.

 

 

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