The Golden Hammer Publisher Eric Yollick began awarding “golden hammers” on August 23, 2016, at the Montgomery County Commissioners Court for spending actions of county officials which clearly waste public money and “hammer the taxpayers.” The original “golden hammer” (August 23, 2016) was a real hammer (purchased at Home Depot) and spray-painted gold. The subsequent awards were foam rubber stage props also spray-painted gold. On September 6, 2016, County Attorney J.D. Lambright and his staff attempted to stop Yollick from passing through the Courthouse security with the foam rubber hammer. After Yollick explained to Assistant County Attorney B.D. Griffin that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and its grant of the right of free political speech applied to Montgomery County, Yollick was able to present the second “golden hammer” at the meeting.
The “golden hammer” is in part a recognition of the work of United States Senator William Proxmire of Wisconsin who, although his voting record was far too liberal, encouraged more careful government spending through the presentation of his “golden fleece awards” from 1975 to 1988.
The following are the “golden hammer” awards to date with the recipient after each date:
August 23, 2016. County Attorney J.D. Lambright. Lambright’s salary of $190,000 (FY 2016) is the highest salary of any elected official in the entire State of Texas, including federal, state, and county officials. Lambright makes substantially more money than the Governor, the Texas Attorney General, and United States Senators.
September 6, 2016. County Commissioner Jim Clark, Precinct 4. Clark entered into a contract with publicist Brad Meyer for $30,000 to assist Clark and Animal Shelter Director Todd “Boss” Hayden with a public relations campaign to fool taxpayers into believing the Animal Shelter was well run. The funds came out of Clark’s Precinct 4 road and bridge funds.
September 13, 2016. County Commissioner Mike Meador, Precinct 1. Meador’s secretary Jule Puckett makes over $130,000 per year in hourly wages of approximately $55 per hour, plus 240 hours of overtime wages, even though federal law would require that the county classify her as exempt and unqualified for overtime.
September 27, 2016. County Commissioner Jim Clark, Precinct 4 (second “Golden Hammer”). At Clark’s direction, the Animal Control department purchased some trucks. Then Animal Control purchased animal cages for the trucks but the cages didn’t fit in the beds of the trucks. Therefore, Clark ordered Animal Control to purchase new trucks! When the cages didn’t fit the second round of new trucks, Clark ordered new cages as well. These shenanigans cost Montgomery County taxpayers over $251,000.
October 25, 2016. The Golden Hammer’s Solid Gold 50 List of the most overpaid non-law-enforcement, non-elected official salaries on the county payroll.
November 22, 2016. County Judge Craig Doyal. “Goetzgate.” Doyal, as Commissioner of Precinct 2, ordered county employees to work on his political campaign, take county property home to use on his campaign, build campaign structures for his campaign, and spend county time preparing campaign paperwork. Melissa Goetz, a former administrative assistant in Precinct 2, explained Doyal’s and Charlie Riley’s activities in this regard in a letter she wrote to Doyal and the County Human Resources Department.
December 13, 2016. Commissioner Mike Meador, Precinct 1 (second “Golden Hammer.”) Meador’s other secretary Bonnie Houser made over $90,000 per year and joined with Jule Puckett to nominate Meador “Boss of the Year.” No wonder.
January 10, 2017. County Engineer Mark Mooney. As the statutory road transportation engineer, Mooney must oversee the construction of county roads. He doesn’t. Instead, the county pays an outside contractor, John Holzwarth over $250,000 per year to act as the “on-call transportation engineer.”