Image: 359th District Judge Kathleen Hamilton (right) and 418th District Judge Tracy Gilbert presented their argument for creation and funding of a new District Court, which would be the eighth in Montgomery County.
Conroe, December 3 – The discussion in favor of creation of a new District Court in Montgomery County was the hot issue before the November 20, 2018, meeting of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court. 359th District Judge Kathleen Hamilton and 418th District Judge Tracy Gilbert made the presentation to lame duck County Judge Craig Doyal, Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack, and outgoing Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark.
Judge Hamilton commented, “In our courts, we see the best of bad people and the worst of really good people.”
Five other members of the judiciary attended the meeting to support the presentation. 284th District Judge-Elect Kristin Bays was also in attendance.
While Judge Hamilton and Judge Gilbert presented arguments in favor of the District Court, there was no opposition to the concept with one minor exception. Their argument was primarily that, in comparison to other counties, the population growth of Montgomery County justifies a new District Court. Of course, that is usually the argument for all government growth and spending increases.
In reality, there has been no cost-benefit analysis in favor of or against a new District Court. This newspaper is seeking data from various sources specifically on that analysis, but County government sources have seemed resistant to provide such information. The Golden Hammer has not yet taken a position on whether a new District Court is appropriate. There clearly are arguments in favor of it. No member of the Commissioners Court has seemed willing to question the District Judges on this issue, although Noack voted against it. The resistance to providing information to conduct a cost-benefit analysis is disconcerting.
Since The Golden Hammer has been unable to obtain information on the financial benefits of a new District Court, that issue does not appear in the Commissioners Court ratings.
The Commissioners Court voted 4 to 1 in favor of a resolution calling for a new District Court, with Noack dissenting.
Late in the meeting, Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon expressed his support for the addition of another District Court to handle civil cases in order to “help the civil judges not take away criminal jurisdiction from the other judges.” Ligon’s point was that the District Judges who currently handle criminal cases should not have to cover civil cases as well. Ligon also commented on the cause of murders in Montgomery County, which this newspaper has previously reported. Please see “Montgomery County DA Ligon’s Message To Potential Murderers: ‘Put Down The Egg Nog. Go To Church. Take A Long Walk,'” The Golden Hammer, November 21, 2018.
This newspaper will provide a full cost-benefit analysis once the editorial staff feels comfortable with the data collection in order to perform such an analysis.
The Golden Hammer‘s rating system follows the Platform of the Republican Party of Texas.
The Golden Hammer‘s ratings measure Commissioners Court votes that affect spending in comparison to the provisions of the Republican Party of Texas Platform. Points are good. The number of points depends upon the amount of money involved in each vote.
The Commissioners Court, all of whom claim to be Republicans, violated the Republican Party Platform on almost every vote during the November 20 meeting. They violated Plank 144 in particular, which provides:
“144. Government Spending: Government Spending is out of control at the federal, state, and local levels, and action is needed.”
The editorial staff of this newspaper sincerely hopes that Plank 144 is simple enough that even the members of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court might understand it.
Commissioners Court meeting, November 20, 2018, 9:30 a.m. All Court members were physically present.
Meador’s vote against law enforcement
Meador consistently votes against law enforcement funding. In the approval of minutes, Meador corrected to clarify that he voted against Precinct 3 Constable Ryan Gable’s request to transfer unused salary and benefits from Fiscal Year 2018 to Fiscal Year 2019. Meador’s clarification earns him a 50 point deduction.
Payment of Accounts – more than $2 million – without any oversight
Vote #1: The Commissioners Court, without any oversight, spent $2,652,575.21 consisting of 46 single-spaced pages of items which they didn’t review, examine, or question. The charges include just over $105,000 for credit card charges that no one oversees.
Major vote. 25 points. “No” vote appropriate. Passed unanimously.
Budget Amendments: intentional obfuscation
Vote #2: $26,000 of budget amendments across five (5) departments. These changes aren’t mistakes. They’re intentional obfuscation and skirting the statutory budget process. 5 points. “No” vote appropriate. Passed unanimously.
Vote #3: Once again, Montgomery County Auditor Phyllis Martin has signed off on an unethical audit of her future boss, James Metts. 5 points. “No” vote appropriate. Passed unanimously.
Purchasing on “consent” agenda
Votes #4 to #10: The Commissioners Court unanimously approved additional spending without any oversight or discussion. Amazingly, Halff Associates needed $10,000 even for additional work on F.M. 1097. Doesn’t anyone care to find out what that is for and why it’s such an even amount? 5 points each for 35 points total. “No” vote appropriate under the circumstances. Passed unanimously.
“Deep State” strikes: Holzwarth’s two contracts
Votes #11 and #12: Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark sponsored two disgusting contracts for engineer John Holzwarth totaling $357,400 for Old Houston Road and $589,400 for Sorters Road for the “King of the Deep State” engineer to perform the same engineering functions which County Engineer Mark Mooney should do for his gigantic salary, which is the tenth highest salary in the Montgomery County government. If you hear the sound of burning, it’s your tax dollars on fire. “No” vote appropriate for each vote. 10 points each. Passed unanimously.
Scores for the November 20, 2018, meeting follow.
DOYAL 0/90. Grade F.
MEADOR -50/90. Grade F.
RILEY 0/90. Grade F.
NOACK 0/90. Grade F.
CLARK 0/90. Grade F.
The following are the cumulative scores for Fiscal Year 2019, which began October 1, 2018.
DOYAL 5/1,285. Grade F.
MEADOR -45/1,285. Grade F.
RILEY -1,000/1,285. Grade F.
NOACK 200/1,285. Grade F.
CLARK 0/860. Grade F.
The citizens must remain vigilant.