Image: Marvin the Martian (left) is the only Precinct 2 Montgomery County voter who might actually believe that Charlie Riley is actually a conservative and has done a good job with roads, public safety, and flooding.
Magnolia, March 27 – Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley, under criminal indictment for official misconduct which could lead to his removal from office, believes that the voters of his Precinct 2 are so completely unfamiliar with his terrible record during the past four years that they’ll believe he’s a “conservative,” and an “expert” in mobility and safety. Riley may be a man desperate for the job which pays him approximately $236,838 (salary + benefits) and by which he tricked the Commissioners Court into creating a nepotistic job for his wife at another approximately $81,374 (salary + benefits). Thanks to his crass nepotism and willingness to spend as much in citizens’ tax dollars as he likes, Riley and his wife are plundering the taxpayers for approximately $318,212 per year.
Riley’s total desperation came in the form yesterday of a political advertisement in which Riley proclaimed he has “demonstrated expertise in mobility, safety, & fiscal conservatism.” As far as being a conservative, Riley has one of the worst records of any member of the County Commissioners Court.
Riley’s record on mobility is a horror show which would dissuade Martin the Martian from visiting this planet. Riley’s criminal legal defense fund and political contributors are his real constituents. Those engineering firms and other County vendors want Montgomery County to build a tollroad that 91% of Montgomery County voters made clear in the recent March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election they don’t want.
Riley secretly lobbied the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to build a tollroad rather than a free road as the TX 249 extension. He then became one of the primary sponsors of the Decimation of Hope Highway, the 3 mile stretch of that road which Riley and lame duck Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal has pushed, so they can funnel money to their legal defense fund contributors. It’s cronyism at its very worst. The $73 to $85 million, 3 mile stretch of road, is so poorly managed by Riley and Doyal that it will be one of the most expensive roads on a per mile basis in American history.
Riley spent more than $13 million on the 3-mile Decimation of Hope Highway out of County government general revenue funds. Here’s what those funds should have gone for instead, but didn’t thanks to Riley’s corruption:
- Widening of F.M. 1488 from the Waller County line to Mostyn Manor;
- Widening of F.M. 2978;
- Widening of F.M. 1774;
- Widening of Hardin Store Road; and
- Numerous other mobility projects that Riley promised he’d get done by the end of his first term in office when Riley ran for County Commissioner in 2014.
Riley received $70 million for road bond projects from the November, 2015, road bond referendum. Instead of aggressively pursuing those projects, by 2 years after the bond referendum had passed, Riley had only completed one of the projects: a partial widening of Keenan Cutoff.
Meanwhile, Riley, as a member of the Houston-Galveston Area Council approved the Council’s Major Thoroughfare Plan which includes the Woodlands Parkway Extension (WPX), which Riley promised he wouldn’t support any longer after voters in Precinct 2 soundly rejected WPX in the May, 2015, road bond referendum. Riley has made clear that he won’t take WPX off of the plan. In fact, the first stage of WPX is part of Riley’s beloved Decimation of Hope Highway tollroad but just under a different name: Wood Trace Boulevard.
There’s a good reason that the Montgomery County Law Enforcement Association (MCLEA), the County’s largest and most venerable law enforcement association representing the rights of the peace officers who protect us, has endorsed Greg Parker, Riley’s opponent. Riley’s record on public safety is downright terrible.
Riley’s statement in his political advertisement that he “approved 64 law enforcement positions” is downright laughable except for the fact that his failure is so serious. In actuality, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office has lost an enormous number of peace officers through attrition during Riley’s tenure as a County Commissioner. Riley’s terrible management of Montgomery County’s government has led to those peace officers retiring or looking for jobs elsewhere in law enforcement agencies that didn’t have to deal with the corrupt oversight of the Montgomery County Commissioner’s Court.
It’s pretty clear that MCLEA also endorsed Parker over Riley in the Republican Runoff Election, because Riley is in a mess of legal trouble. First, he under criminal indictment for official misconduct for alleged violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act in his close cooperation and work with corrupt local political boss Marc Davenport and Doyal to fashion a secret deal to obtain passage of the November, 2015, road bond referendum. Second, Riley has engaged in an enormous pattern and practice of using government resources – both Montgomery County and the Magnolia ISD – for her personal use and for his political campaign. MCLEA’s Board of Directors caught Riley red-handed using his County government email address for his political campaign. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
It’s nothing but irony for Riley, who has great trouble following the law, to claim that he’s somehow an “expert” in public safety.
Fiscal Conservative? Oh, come on…maybe a socialist
First, let’s remember that Riley’s score for fiscally-conservative votes in The Golden HammerCommissioners Court rating system for the period from October 1, 2017, through the present is 85 points out of a possible 1,868 points. In other words, Riley votes “conservative” 4.6% of the time. Riley votes against the Republican Party Platform and in a liberal fashion, 95.4% of the time!
Riley has worked for the government most of his adult life. Before he became the Precinct 2 County Commissioner on January 1, 2015, Riley worked as the Precinct 2 Operations Manager for then-Commissioner Craig Doyal. Riley came to work for Doyal who was the Precinct 2 County Commissioner right after Riley and his wife filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, because they failed in trying to run a truck stop near Cleveland.
Here’s what Riley is known for as a County Commissioner:
- He supports construction of a $73 to $85 million 3.6 mile Tx-249 toll road section also known as the “Decimation of Hope Highway” because it takes tax dollars away from those who need them most, the hardworking women and men who slave to pay taxes to give Riley and his wife their government paychecks and to allow Riley to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars into the hands of mostly outside-of-Montgomery County engineers and road contractors who enjoy Montgomery County citizens’ money immensely, and transfer a hefty portion to Riley back as political contributions. Why would Riley support this crazy project that will constitute one of the most expensive highways ever constructed in American history if built? He says that it will be a money-maker for the County government. Of course, there’s a big risk that, like most other toll roads, they just don’t make much money at all. Remember, Riley has already voted to spend more than $13 million of County general funds for the Decimation of Hope Highway.
- Riley lobbied in Austin during the 85th Legislative Session in 2017 against statewide property tax reform and relief.
- Riley voted against the 20% homestead exemption on February 14, 2017. He changed his vote a month later after fierce lobbying from citizen-activist Kelli Cook of Montgomery. Riley had the same information for both votes, because Tax Assessor-Collector Tammy McRae had provided the information projecting tax collections before the first vote.
- Riley consistently votes to fund the Montgomery County Airport, which is far away from his Commissioners Precinct. The Airport is a sinkhole for County tax dollars that simply has never provided any economic justification other than as a monument to Riley’s pal Meador.
- Riley has consistently supported and voted for County spending Budgets that greatly exceed the rate of population growth and inflation. This year’s Budget is $54 million more than what it should be since 2010 when Republican Primary Election voters told County leaders to use that rate as a ceiling for spending. Riley and other County leaders ignored the demands of 93% of the Republican voters in that election.
- Riley is one of three criminal defendants who got the Texas Open Meetings Act declared unconstitutional, because, Riley argued, it violated his rights of free speech by requiring him to conduct his political business in the “open meetings” required under Texas law. Now, Riley can do his business dealing to spend government money behind closed doors, except for the fact that the Beaumont Court of Appeals overturned the judge’s decision to rule in favor of Riley.
- Riley called Commissioner Jim Clark and rebuked him on the telephone after the first Commissioners Court meeting where Clark dared to vote against the Decimation of Hope Highway.
- Riley gave himself a huge pay raise in 2016, even though the Salary Study Committee, which he helped to appoint, recommended against any pay raises, because Riley’s salary was already much higher than almost every other county commissioner in Texas.
- Riley made a motion to create a new position in the Precinct 5 Constable’s Office, after it became apparent his wife Deanne was not going to be working for the Sheriff’s Department after Sheriff Rand Henderson came into office. The following month, Riley placed on the agenda to give his wife the new position he created, also famously known as “the Riley 2-Step.”
- Riley has consistently condoned County Judge Craig Doyal’s concentration of his political power by taking management of the County government away from the Commissioners Court and giving it to Doyal.
- Riley tried to put two of his best friends on the County Ethics Committee. Only by the courage of County Attorney J.D. Lambright did doing the right thing prevail.
- On February 14, 2017, Riley tried to scare people into believing that County government spending cuts would require cuts in the law enforcement budget, when, in fact, the Citizens Budget Committee and the County GOP Executive Committee have both called for a $100 million spending reduction in non-law enforcement departments with a $40 million spending increase to put more “boots on the ground” for law enforcement and to build a capital fund for the County.
- If you’re upset about the Montgomery Central Appraisal District’s reappraisal of your home, then look to Riley, who was a Board member of the MCAD and who was responsible for setting their reappraisal policy under the provisions of the Texas Tax Code until December 31, 2017, when Riley had finished raising property tax appraisals high enough to pay for his massive spending habits.
- Riley has consistently rejected the concept of “zero-based budgeting” and supported the concept of starting with current spending levels as a base for future budgets.
- Riley was at the epicenter of the Goetz-Gate scandal where, thanks to Riley’s testimony, that got a man off after he was charged with manslaughter causing the deaths of passengers in his car when it literally flew into the air off of Nichols Sawmill Road.
- Riley has voted for more than 99.9999% of all spending proposals put before the County government. That’s not an exaggeration. Have spending proposal? You’ve got Charlie’s vote.
The aforementioned list is hardly a beginning.
Notice at every turn, Riley supports government taking over economic organizations. He wants government to run airports, he urges toll roads as allegedly profitable enterprises, and he fights for higher taxation and spending to shift economic power to his centralized control. Although the outside-the-county engineering firms and contracting firms are not government per se, they are quasi-governmental in nature. They obtain the vast amounts of their revenue from your tax dollars and they channel large portions back to Riley and his government colleagues.
Riley looks to government as the solution to most problems. He seeks to infringe upon private earnings to support his government pursuits. He’s worked hard to engender and foster a system in which certain private companies become quasi-governmental entities who participate in a system of taxation, spending, and regeneration of those astride the taxpayers’ throats.
Riley is certainly no conservative, although he might, in fact, be a socialist.