Image: Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough’s Lexus SUV after his vehicle struck a County Constable’s vehicle which was parked on the side of the road and one other vehicle during a September 10, 2020, collision. Keough suffered a broken pelvis and other severe injuries, but will return to preside over the October 13, 2020, Montgomery County Commissioners Court meeting, after a month-long absence.
The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Conroe, October 13 – Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough will return to the Commissioners Court for the Tuesday, October 13, 2020, meeting after a month-long absence. Keough slammed his Lexus SUV into a parked County Constable’s vehicle in The Woodlands on September 10, 2020, broke his pelvis, and caused injuries to a Deputy Constable.
Secrecy, enormous government expenditures, and obfuscation mark the October 13 meeting of the Commissioners Court.
Similar to the Craig Doyal era of corruption in the Montgomery County government, the vast majority of actions on the October 13 agenda appear in the super-secret “consent agenda” with little explanation. Neither Keough nor other members of the Commissioners Court will discuss any of the millions of dollars of expenditures – approximately $21 million – on that portion of the agenda.
At the beginning of his term of office, Keough removed the “payment of accounts” agenda item from the consent agenda to the “open agenda.” Keough has reverted to the Doyal tactic of hiding “payment of accounts” under the “consent agenda” again. Actually, however, Keough’s method of gaining approval for the vast County government expenditures is worse than Doyal’s.
The “payment of accounts” is no longer identifiable by account category, because that would provide far too much information for the public. Instead, the $10,390,597.74 of payments are listed without department identification in alphabetical order. For example, look at the following page of “payment of accounts.”
The payments to Best Buy Stores have no explanation in the foregoing example. The seven payments to attorney Katherine Bihm and four payments to Celeste Blackburn have not explanation of what services they supposedly provided under the adult felony contracts. There is no breakdown by department.
Unlike the payment of accounts during the Doyal era, it is impossible to ascertain what department head within the County government is responsible for the proposed payment.
Similarly, there appear to be substantial changes proposed through the Risk Management Department to the County government’s cafeteria benefits plan for County government employees. There is little detail in the agenda attachments and no information whatsoever to provide taxpayers with the proposed cost of the changes.
One particularly perilous agenda item reads “Consider, discuss and take appropriate action, including immediate action, due to the imminent threat to public health and safety as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.” Since Keough’s track record as County Judge included several mandates during March and April, which devastated local businesses and caused unemployment, bankruptcies, and suicides among thousands of County residents, the lack of specificity of this agenda item both appears to violate the spirit of the Texas Open Meetings Act and could result in almost any irrational (or rational) action by Keough and his Commissioners Court colleagues.
Towards the end of the meeting, Brown and Gay Engineers will appear before the Commissioners Court to discuss a revision to the Montgomery County portion of the Major Thoroughfare Plan of the Houston-Galveston Area Council (HGAC). The current HGAC Plan, which Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley largely authored, includes plans for the Woodlands Parkway Extension, which voters rejected in a 2015 referendum, as well as the unpopular Branch Crossing Extension and Gosling Road Extension, the latter of which would cut through the W.G. Jones State Forest.
This newspaper has confirmed, through Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack, that the Brown and Gay Engineers presentation will only include a discussion of commencing the revision, which has not yet occurred due to delays related to the Chinese Coronavirus. Hopefully, Noack and Keough will work to ensure that the three unpopular road Extensions will no longer appear on Montgomery County’s Major Thoroughfare Plan.