Whitehead’s truth about corruption
Conroe and Magnolia, October 22 – JoDell Whitehead is an angry lady (and County employee) who made an excellent point on October 19 when she posted the following comment:
“What will happen to you after your goals are achieved. Well I can tell you. The people who are using you to preform [sic] their dirty work will not acknowledge knowing you when your no longer needed. I really fee sorry for you…..because I have been in our shoes.”
While The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, doesn’t feel that anyone is using us to perform their dirty work – partly because this newspaper only adheres to reporting truthful facts – Whitehead made an interesting point that politicians often view people as puppets, toys, or merely an means to a more important end: political power. There’s no question that the greatest single challenge that voters in Montgomery County, Texas, have faced is the enormous number of candidates for political office who represent themselves as one way – especially using the word “conservative” – but, when the instant they take the oath of office, they act differently.
It’s a shame that Whitehead’s outstanding point about political corruptibility drowned in a sea of anger in the remainder of her post (although her discussion of Aristotle and Plato was quite witty).
Does corruption really happen that fast?
Montgomery County has a five-member Commissioners Court composed of five people elected as Republicans. Nevertheless, the County government under their direction is one of the fastest growing governmental entities, in terms of spending and tax growth, in the entire United States. Under Craig Doyal, Mike Meador, and Charlie Riley, Montgomery County’s government spending has grown faster than the federal government!
Active citizens observe this problem all the time. They work very hard for a seemingly sincere candidate, such as Tommy Williams, the very nice young man who ran for the Texas House of Representatives in 1996. People had every reason to adore Williams before he became an officeholder. He was active in the community, the Chairman of the Woodlands United Methodist Church Building Committee, had a super family, and told his friends and neighbors that he sincerely wished to go to Austin to put his heart-felt conservative principles in action. It took Williams several months after he took the oath of office, but eventually he turned into a pro-establishment, pro-spending, anti-citizen, corrupt politician whose real constituents became monied special interests and Austin lobbying firms. When Williams left the Texas Senate in 2013, his constituents breathed a sigh of relief and wished him good riddance.
Locally, Stephanne LaViolette was a young lady whom her friends in women’s organizations and inside the County government adored. She was smart, sweet, kind, caring, and fun to be around. But two things happened in 2013. LaViolette became the County Treasurer and began to do some things that weren’t very honorable, such as squeezing out her rivals within the County government, using nepotism as a tool to advance her political power, and safeguarding her power through aggressive secrecy policies within the County Treasurer’s Department. Secondly, after a bruising divorce and custody battle, LaViolette married her third husband, Marc Davenport. Now, Stephanne Davenport is one of the least trusted public officials in our community. She’s drawn a serious opponent, Conroe ISD President Melanie Pryor Bush, known for her integrity and willingness to fight for her beliefs.
Even the Montgomery County Hospital District has seen people who espouse conservative principles act exactly in the opposite manner. Five of the seven MCHD Board members have consistently voted for immensely greater spending and immense waste. MCHD, which had previously operated out of a leased space in a Class B office building, constructed a magnificent office complex that even the Clinton Foundation would envy.
The big question: what can voters do? Answer: apply the Instant Corruptibility Index.
When candidates come around to ask citizens for a vote, there’s a lot of research that citizens must complete before deciding how to vote. A platitude-filled speech in a candidate’s forum doesn’t provide sufficient information about a person to make a responsible decision.
When a candidate says that he or she is “conservative,” a “fiscal conservative,” a “Christian,” a “constitutionalist,” or any of the other favored platitudes, that’s only a first step. Obviously, the issues about which Montgomery County voters care include (1) substantial spending reductions along with the need to collect less taxes, (2) elimination of nepotism entirely, (3) bright line anti-conflicts-of-interest rules, (4) salary reform for elected officials and managerial employees in government, (5) a robust Code of Ethics the violation of which actually means something, (6) draconian oversight and review of County vendors, (7) prohibition of County contracts to any vendor (or its employees) who has contributed funds to a member of the Commissioners Court during the past year, and (8) a commitment never to build tollroads unless a voter referendum has approved the particular road first.
Those commitments are just the first step in the voter evaluation process. Unfortunately, that’s where voters traditionally end their analysis. That’s the precise reason Montgomery County’s government suffers from the terrible County Judge and Commissioners Court we have.
The second, and possibly more important step, is application of the Instant Corruptibility Index (ICI). Under the ICI, voters ask and receive an answer to the question: is this candidate likely to corrupt instantly upon taking the oath of office of soon thereafter? The higher the ICI score is means the higher percentage change a candidate will corrupt. If someone has a 96 ICI score, that means he or she will have a 96% chance of corrupting.
What are the ICI components in Montgomery County in the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election?
- Is Marc Davenport their political consultant? If yes, that’s 100 ICI points instantly. They’ll corrupt.
- Are there important issues about their office that they could answer but don’t answer? For example, “What’s your position on salary reform for elected officials and managerial employees?” Answer: “I don’t know” or “I need to study the issue after I get into office.” That’s about 60 ICI points.
- Do very few people in the community know him or her for one reason or another? If “yes,” that’s about 80 ICI points. If a person hasn’t worked as a community servant previously, there’s little to show the person has a “servant’s attitude” or “servant’s heart.”
- Are there overriding political or philosophical principles that they espouse? If “no,” then that’s about 40 ICI points. Candidates don’t have to be great idealists to become good public servants. When Sarah Palin ran for Governor of Alaska, she was not a great philosophical mind. But she had done a superb job on the State’s Public Utilities Commission and as Mayor of Wasilla by insisting that those government jurisdictions perform their jobs well.
- If the person has already served in a public position, is he or she totally transparent about what happened while in that office? If not, that’s about 50 ICI points. If not transparent, do his or her closest supporters aggressively work to cover up terrible mistakes of the candidate in public positions. A great example that we’re seeing right now in that regard is Precinct 4 JP James Metts who intends to run for Precinct 4 County Commissioner. Frankly, the hyper aggressive covering up of his supporters reveals that they and Metts both recognize the severity of his past corruption. That’s about 80 ICI points.
- With apologies to sincere Christians, Jews, or other religious faith holders, if a candidate answers a major issue question with invocation of a religious doctrine, then that’s about 90 ICI points.
- If the candidate won’t or can’t tell you why personally he or she wants to serve in that office, then that’s 100 ICI points. They’ll corrupt.
- If the candidate has had some major problem or even scandal in his or her life, has the behavior changed since that time? Has he or she learned from the mistake? Or has the person tried to cover it up? A coverup is worth about 90 ICI points. If the person has shown – through action, not through jawboning – that he or she has learned from the mistake, then the major problem or scandal should be substantially fewer ICI points.
There are probably other components to the ICI, but those are important methods of evaluation that voters should apply before voting.
With all of the corruption in Montgomery County, JoDell Whitehead and the other 562,000 nice folks of Montgomery County can’t afford to make many more mistakes. Let’s all join together, apply the issue analysis and then the ICI and get some good people into public positions of trust.
Either way, the citizens will need to remain vigilant.