Image: The “Mad Cow” Award deservingly goes to Woodlands Township Chairman Gordy Bunch, Vice Chairman Bruce Reiser, and Director Shelley Sekula-Gibbs who are, by far, the worst elected officials in the community in 2021.
Publisher’s Note: The Golden Hammer thanks our readers for a terrific 2021. Thanks to our readers for your input into the Power Top Ten lists, the Person of the Year Awards, and the “Mad Cow” Awards. We received a ton of input this year. The articles you’ve read during the month of December have benefitted enormously from your input.
The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
The Woodlands, December 31 – Woodlands Township Chairman Gordy Bunch, Vice Chairman Bruce Reiser, and Board member Shelley Sekula-Gibbs share the “Mad Cow” Award 2021, for the worst elected officials in Montgomery County. Not only did they permit power lust to grab hold of them and yank them off any moorings of fair attempts to represent their constituents, but also they showed a willingness to manipulate and destroy the “Tea Party” movement in Montgomery County along the way.
In the past, some recipients of the “Mad Cow” Award showed substantial improvements in their service after this newspaper, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, shamed them with the Award. Former County Commissioner Jim Clark showed genuine humility towards the end of his term of office. Precinct 4 Commissioner James Metts and Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley have substantially improved as public servants, even though they remain largely inaccessible to their constituents.
Bunch, Reiser, and Sekula-Gibbs display every indication of getting worse, as time progresses.
Incorporation of The Woodlands was little more than an effort by Bunch, Reiser, and Sekula-Gibbs to consolidate their power. They talked of “local control” but really meant “our control” in their willingness to spend tens of millions of accumulated overtaxed tax dollars to try to trick Woodlands voters into believing the costs of formation and operation of a city government would be less than the reality.
American city governments are messy and corrupt, with only rare exceptions. Bunch didn’t care, because he wanted more power and recognition as the first mayor of The Woodlands so badly, he was willing to risk one of the most successfully planned and executed master-planned real estate developments in the United States to achieve his intended power grab.
Bunch, Reiser, and Sekula-Gibbs turned the Woodlands Township, a spectacular form of government, into their personal tools to grab power through their pro-incorporation efforts. They wrested the staff away from their focus on making The Woodlands community great. Behind the vigilant eyes of the public, they directed General Manager Jeff Jones to spend more than $100,000 of tax dollars to fund their political campaign to attempt to win the November 2 incorporation referendum. Now, they’re forcing Jones out for obvious misconduct, while trying to distance themselves from the wrongdoing of which they were clearly a part.
Completely out of touch with the reality of overwhelming community opposition, the Bunch bunch were willing to say anything to try to manipulate voters to support incorporation of The Woodlands as a city government.
Bunch showed the arrogant gall of claiming incorporation as a city government and creation of new bureaucracies for public works, road and bridge operations, city code enforcement, and a municipal court system were an effort to “make government smaller.”
Reiser parroted Bunch and lied to Woodlands residents about “subsidence” of the elevation of The Woodlands allegedly due to local groundwater production, a causal phenomenon which empirical evidence has revealed doesn’t exist anywhere in Montgomery County other than the southeast corner (far outside of The Woodlands). Reiser, by the way, is likely not legally qualified to serve as a Township Director. He lives in Petoskey, Michigan, and even serves as the president and secretary of his homeowners association there.
Sekula-Gibbs propounded the bizarre argument that creation of a public works department through consolidation of the municipal utility districts would reduce bureaucracy, save tax dollars, and reduce government debt, when the plain reality showed the opposite. She continued to make that argument, even after Bunch and Reiser disavowed any intention to consolidate the MUDs into their intended city government.
Sekula-Gibbs personally funded a campaign in which, through mailers and signs, she directly lied to voters by claiming Woodlands incorporation would reduce taxes, when the Township’s own financial projections showed substantial increases in taxation if incorporation had passed.
There’s a genuinely sad political impact of the Bunch bunch’s failed power grab. Since 2012, the Texas Patriots PAC had worked as a venerable organization uniting conservative voters in Montgomery County behind candidates who allegedly claimed they supported less government and free markets. The organization had begun to decline, as its co-founders moved on to another part of Texas, in the case of Suzanne Guggenheim, and on to other interests, in the case of Julie Turner. They have left behind the enormously gifted and intelligent Cindy Gaskill, as Treasurer with only limited authority, without providing her sufficient training or transition.
Bunch, Reiser, and Sekula-Gibbs pounded the final nail in the political coffin of the Texas Patriots PAC and deeply harmed the “Tea Party” movement in Montgomery County. First, they maneuvered endorsements in favor of the incorporation referendum, while the general public could plainly ascertain that incorporation of a city government would bring more, not less, government and would harm freedom in the geographic jurisdiction of The Woodlands.
Not willing to stop there, as they sought to take every advantage of the “tribalism” which so sadly prevails in American society, the Bunch bunch led their closest supporters into direct attacks on local businesses, corporations in general, free markets, and private property rights. Towards the end of their pro-incorporation campaign, Bunch and his followers sounded more like Eugene Debs’ Socialist Party in the 1920s and 1930s than anything resembling conservatives.
In addition, they’ve allowed the Township staff to suffer major vacancies, including a vacancy in the Human Resources Director position for several months. They’ve allowed the staff to fester without senior staff meetings for several months. In short, the Township staff is in total disarray, while the Bunch bunch hides from the public the truth of what’s happening inside the Township. They’re illustrating perfectly the fact that governments are not “of the people” but rapidly grow to become “against the people.”
Bunch, Reiser, and Sekula-Gibbs have led the Township to operate in secrecy cloistered away from the Woodlands residents, who have every right to know precisely what is happening within their government. The utter secrecy and “circling the wagons” mentality appeared on full display on Wednesday, December 29, when they met in executive session – with Bunch appearing only remotely (when he shouldn’t have participated in the executive session at all due to his mighty conflicts of interest) – to discuss the termination of the current General Manager Jeff Jones and to discuss replacing him with Interim General Manager Monique Sharp after Jones’ last day on January 3. Reiser, in particular, who ran the open portion of that meeting, once again “graced” the community with his arrogance as he presided over the meeting.
In “Game of Thrones,” the character Lord Petyr Baelish was a master manipulator willing to gather information to secure wealth and power whom eventually people realized lacked any semblance of honor. Baelish didn’t realize until it was too late that the people around him were well aware of his manipulative actions. Sadly, Bunch has enormous ability and had the potential to serve as a great Woodlands Township Board Chairman. Instead, Bunch, along with Reiser and Sekula-Gibbs have made plain to Woodlands residents their public disservice even before they (like Baelish) understand how apparent their treachery has become.
Gordy Bunch, Bruce Reiser, and Shelley Sekula-Gibbs provide examples of the elitism and corruption which grow within an organization when they lose sight and understanding of the core of American political philosophy: the United States of America is a representative Republic under which all power emanates from consent of the people. Not only have they ignored that principle but also they have led so many of their sycophants to stray as well.