The Golden Hammer staff sat down with the newspaper’s publisher, Eric Yollick, at his favorite spot in The Woodlands, the second floor of Barnes & Noble, on Friday, January 13, to find some answers.
GH STAFF: Eric, why did you start The Golden Hammer?
Yollick: I’m singularly focused on reducing government spending in the Montgomery County budget. I’ve gotten my message to other citizens through meetings and through Facebook. Starting an online newspaper provides another channel for me, as a private citizen, to communicate with others, and vice versa.
GH STAFF: What’s the main message?
Yollick: Government should be the last resort to solve societal problems, including in our home community of Montgomery County. Government usually messes up what it touches. The county budget has grown massively in the past 20 years. The waste is awful. We need to trim the fat, determine which services are essential, and support those services with good management and efficiency. My goal is to reduce the County government budget by $100 million in the FY 2018 Budget.
GH STAFF: Is that really doable?
Yollick: Yes, easily. Just rolling the budget back to the FY 2015 levels is almost half of the savings. The rest will come through efficiency, identifying specific wasteful spending, and the use of “zero-based budgeting” as an analytical tool.
GH STAFF: What about law enforcement?
Yollick: Good point. I believe that our county’s leadership has failed to allocate sufficient resources to law enforcement. I’ve estimated that they under-budget (not a real verb!) by approximately $40 million, which I believe we should allocate to the law enforcement departments from the savings.
GH STAFF: Is this newspaper a stab at The Golden Hammer’s competitor?
Yollick: We don’t have a competitor. We provide news.
GH STAFF: Will The Golden Hammer be daily, weekly, or monthly?
Yollick: Weekly for the first three weeks of operation. I hope to move to daily publication by February 1.
GH STAFF: What’s your background?
Yollick: I’m a private citizen. I was born in a private hospital in Dallas. I attended private schools (except for first, second, and part of third grade when I erred). At the age of 6, I became a taxpayer and have continued to pay a lot of taxes ever since that time, because local, state, and federal governments never relented, even around the holidays. I’ve voted in every election and come to realize that people who run for public office often lie and make false promises. I don’t accept funds or services from the government. I’m embarrassed when I enter air-conditioned or heated government buildings and utilize some of the government-treated air within them. I work for a living so that I can pay taxes to all of the governments that take taxes. My wife and I live in an unincorporated area of Montgomery County, Texas, one of the most out-of-control county governments with respect to spending-and-taxing in America. I read John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, and Robert Nozick, and actually believe what they wrote.
GH STAFF: Did you attend college?
GH STAFF: Thanks for the helpful answer. Did you do any graduate work?
Yollick: Yes, lots.
GH STAFF: Who owns The Golden Hammer?
Yollick: A Texas corporation which I formed by the name of Malleus Aureus Company.
GH STAFF: What does “malleus aureus” mean?
Yollick: It’s latin for “golden hammer.”
GH STAFF: Who owns the stock of Malleus Aureus Company?
Yollick: I do.
GH STAFF: Tell us about the bank lawsuit.
Yollick: I’m a private attorney who practices business and real estate litigation in The Woodlands. I settled the lawsuit against me that involved First National Bank of Edinburg and a hospital management company and went to trial before a Harris County district court in 2012. The bank was my client while other attorneys represented the hospital management company. The jury found that the bank and the hospital company committed fraud and determined that I was 10% at fault for damages that resulted in a judgment against the bank and the hospital company of approximately $65 million. The matter has been privately resolved to the satisfaction of all parties. I’m happy it’s over and I wish all concerned the very best in their future endeavors.
The 281st District Court Judge, the Honorable Sylvia Matthews, found that there was “no evidence” that I committed fraud or wrongdoing, so she refused to enter a judgment against me. There was never a judgment against me arising out of the dispute. The plaintiffs appealed the trial judge’s ruling in my favor to the Houston Court of Appeals and won their appeal. The Supreme Court of Texas chose not to hear the case. The case was back in the trial court, when the settlement occurred, as no judgment was rendered. The dispute arose out of a bank loan involving three hospitals in Dallas, Groves, and Houston. I was the transactional lawyer for the bank and signed a loan workout agreement on behalf of the bank. The jury found that the bank, not I, breached the workout agreement. Nevertheless, I signed the agreement as an agent of the bank, so the jury held me 10% responsible for the alleged damages. The Court of Appeals opinion represents a major change in Texas law. For the first time in Texas, or any other state, an agent or employee was determined liable for alleged wrongdoing of his employer or principal. Usually, liability flows in the opposite direction, i.e., that employers are responsible for their employee’s actions.
GH STAFF: Are you upset about the reports by another newspaper?
Yollick: Not really, they’re fake news. Citizens in our community recognize them for what they are. Very obviously, the lady who allowed others to write the article for her was more than a bit malicious. Her anger controls her, not me.
GH STAFF: Since you have complained about the ethics of the County Judge and the County Commissioners, are you claiming that you’re perfect?
Yollick: No. I’m the most flawed person I’ve ever met. Every citizen has the right to monitor and complain about the ethics, or lack, of our government officials.
GH STAFF: Who did you support for President in 2016?
Yollick: I supported Donald Trump for President since June 14, 2015, because I thought a speech he gave on national defense policy and force transformation was brilliant.
GH STAFF: Do you consider yourself a fiscal conservative? A 19th century liberal? A modern liberal? A social conservative? A libertarian? An objectivist?
Yollick: Yes, yes, no, yes, not really, yes.
GH STAFF: Do you have any favorite living non-fiction writers and who are they?
Yollick: Yes. Victor Davis Hanson is a one of my favorite living writers. He’s a great columnist and historian. I’ve heard he’s a pretty good farmer as well.
GH STAFF: How about living fiction writers?
Yollick: That’s easy. Nelson DeMille is my favorite living fiction writer. His book The Gold Coast is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. I’ve read everything he’s ever written.
GH STAFF: What is your opinion of Tom Wolfe?
Yollick: While I don’t like Tom Wolfe’s politics, his writing is magnificent. Each of his books capture the time period when he has written them. He usually writes about one book each decade. The Right Stuff and Bonfire of the Vanities are both hilarious and entertaining. One of Wolfe’s early essays, entitled “Mau-mauing the Flak Catchers,” is an important work that anyone interested in modern government should read. Our Montgomery County Commissioners should read that essay, so that they understand their methods of putting off constituents are old and failed.
GH STAFF: Are you a deplorable?