Image: Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough has garnered the “Mad Cow 2020” Award for the Worst Elected Official in Montgomery County.
The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Montgomery County, December 31 – Secretive, abusive towards citizens who try to provide input, elitist, and completely eager to violate the United States and Texas Constitutions. No, not Craig Doyal. Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough has earned the “Mad Cow Award 2020” for the worst elected official in Montgomery County.
Two weeks ago, during the final show of the year of “It’s Hammer Time” on December 18, 2020, the host asked the guests whom they believed should receive the “Mad Cow 2020” Award for the Worst Elected Official in Montgomery County. MCPLive.TV President Bill Brenza, who was the Producer of the show as well, responded, “As a percentage of what we expected of him and what we actually got, I’m going to pick Mark Keough, our current County Judge. Everybody in this room did a lot of hard work to get him elected, and we worked very hard for him, and we’ve been sorely disappointed.”
Brenza certainly summed it up quite well.
2020 has brought out the disaster in Mark Keough as County Judge. As Brenza intimated, Keough embarrassed the conservative activists who worked so hard to get him elected in 2018.
Keough’s illegal mandates wrecked local economy
After weeks of promising his constituents that he’d never order a lockdown in response to the Chinese Coronavirus panic, because, Keough acknowledged, a lockdown order would be a violation of the state and federal Constitutions, Keough panicked on March 16 and 27 in response to a data-less public health report and issued a lockdown order, an order requiring Houses of Worship to close, and a completely-illegal curfew.
Keough’s actions directly torched the Montgomery County economy, resulted in more suicides than deaths from COVID-19, led to a spike in domestic violence, destroyed many local businesses which have never reopened, and directly led to a twenty-five percent (25%) unemployment rate. One constituent wrote to Keough on March 27 that he acted as a “coward.” Unfortunately, Keough was in a position at that moment to harm tens of thousands of people, if not many others.
Keough’s illegal mandates included criminal penalties for violations, although Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson, Precinct 2 Constable Gene DeForest, and District Attorney Brett Ligon recognized that those penalties violated the Constitution, because they didn’t emanate from any law which the Texas Legislature passed.
On October 30, 2020, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a Motion for Emergency Temporary Restraining Order in the case against Cameron County Judge Richard Samaniego and declared, “County judges and mayors do not have independent authority to issue emergency orders carrying the force and effect of law, as this is not one of the powers granted to such local officials under section 418.108.” Keough claimed to issue his illegal mandates in March under Section 418.108 of the Texas Government Code just as Samaniego did in October.
Keough had no authority whatsoever, even in the most imaginative fit of fictitious law, to issue a curfew. Keough made clear, however, that he issued the curfew order, because he was upset that someone had broken into his storage unit and “I think it was someone from Harris County.”
After Keough observed the death, economic destruction, and downright misery he had caused, five weeks later he ended his mandate and tried to claim that he was leading the charge against mandated lockdown and business closure orders. Keough apparently counted on the sheer stupidity of his constituents to get behind his “leadership” on those matters.
Keough promotes his own Chief of Staff with a huge salary increase
In reality, the County Judge has little authority under the Texas Constitution to do anything. He oversees the Department of Emergency Management and is responsible for ensuring that paupers receive decent burials. Other than those functions, and presiding over two Commissioners Court meetings each month, the County Judge doesn’t do much.
Nevertheless, Keough has allowed his Chief of Staff, Jason Millsaps, to play as though Millsaps is the chief executive of the County government. Keough is usually absent from his office, but Millsaps is there and attempting to “manage” County employees over whom he has no legal authority whatsoever.
Meanwhile, Keough has promoted Millsaps’ compensation which began the year at approximately $107,000 per year and is now approximately $129,000 per year.
Keough busts the County Budget, because he didn’t know what he was doing
During the 4-day budget workshop, which ended on July 31, 2020, the Commissioners Court failed to find any spending reductions at all. Even certain county departments, such as the Convention Center, which are essentially not operating at present, received no reductions in spending.
To the contrary, the Commissioners Court, under the leadership of Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley, found substantial new spending initiatives. A small surplus from the current year’s budget will go to purchase vehicles for law enforcement departments. Riley, however, insisted on spending $4 million on a new Forensics Center, which has no budget, almost no designs, no cost estimates, and no projected date for the commencement of construction. Sadly, Keough went along with that proposal but then realized he had made a serious error in doing so.
After Keough agreed to the $4 million expenditure, which broke the proposed Budget, Keough turned to Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner and whispered, loudly enough for everyone to hear, “I just busted the Budget, didn’t I?” Sadly, the answer was affirmative.
Keough “doyals” taxpayers into paying for personal driver and County government vehicle
Slinking down in his chair, showing the shame he must feel in burdening the taxpayers during the November 11, 2020, Commissioners Court meeting, Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough asked and received a deputy constable assigned to him for his personal driver and bodyguard. In voting 3 (Keough, Meador, Metts) to 2 (Noack, Riley), the Commissioners Court also took a vehicle away from the Montgomery County Emergency Management Department in order for it to serve as Keough’s personal transportation to and from work.
Keough, whose office policies appear more and more like the big spending, statist, and secrecy approach of his predecessor, Craig Doyal, clearly “doyaled” the taxpayers in asking for an $80,000 per year personal driver who would use a County vehicle to take Keough to and from work each day and drive him around to other locations in the community.
Keough ran on his “Contract with Montgomery County” in 2018. Many citizens voted for Keough specifically based upon his promise that “I will end the practice of granting preferential treatment to elected officials and their employees that does not apply to the citizens of this county.” Regardless of the pretext for Keough’s latest action in Commissioners Court, however, what is clear is that Keough has acted to grant himself preferential treatment, as an elected official. The County government does not provide personal bodyguards, drivers, and taxpayer-funded vehicles to any private citizens in Montgomery County.
Keough’s attempt to order this newspaper to withdraw an article
In the United States of America and in Texas, it is an unlawful “prior restraint” on Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press for the government to order someone not to engage in speech, particularly any speech which is political in nature. Of course, Keough’s willingness to order the closure of local churches on March 27 made clear that the First Amendment’s protection of Freedom of Religion was not among Keough’s priorities.
In early April, Keough’s last interview with this newspaper occurred when he called a member of the staff. Keough didn’t like an article The Golden Hammer had written about his unlawful mandates. Keough told the staff member, “I am ordering The Golden Hammer to pull that article.” The staff member declined.