New Caney, February 6 – In the event JP James Metts were to win the electoral contest for the Precinct 4 County Commissioner position against incumbent Commissioner Jim Clark and Bob Bagley, the fifty-nine (59) employees of the Commissioner Precinct would find their jobs very different if not in jeopardy.
When Metts became the Precinct 4 JP on January 1, 2003, one of his first acts as a County official was to fire half of the staff of the Precinct 4 Justice of Peace Office and replace them with family members and political allies. Since Metts became the JP, corrupt local political boss Marc Davenport has claimed to act as the “spokesman for Metts’ office” while Metts himself has claimed that Davenport is a “sworn deputy” in the court. Davenport is not a licensed peace officer in the State of Texas and has never been a Montgomery County employee.
Since Metts became the JP, he has hired at least four nepotistic employees – his first cousin, his live-in girlfriend, his closest political ally’s mother, and the mother of an employee of his closest political ally. Metts and Davenport have insisted that the office staff of Metts’ JP 4 office prepare the food and provide the service for all of Metts’ political fundraisers over the years. Metts has relaxed that policy recently since The Golden Hammer first reported the practice.
When Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark came into office on January 1, 2015, he did not replace any of the Precinct 4 Commissioner’s Office employees. Clark did add one additional employee to the office at the time.
Metts, however, has always taken a very political approach to hiring and firing in his JP office. His employment practices were so political that the Deputy Sheriff’s Association of Montgomery County began a petition in 2003 after Metts came into office to create a civil service to protect the jobs of County employees. Since that time, the County government has implemented some civil service protections for County employees, but there is some ambiguity in the policy, because County Department directors who are elected officials still have the power to terminate employees.
Metts has a group of approximately half a dozen individuals who are working on his campaign who are convicted felons and otherwise unemployable. One of those individuals told The Golden Hammer, on the condition of anonymity, that he expects a full-time job in the Precinct 4 Commissioner’s Office “after the election.”
The Precinct 4 Commissioner’s Office employees have enjoyed substantial stability in employment practices at least during the past eight years, as the transition between former County Commissioner Ed Rinehart and the current County Commissioner, Jim Clark, was seamless. Clark has raised substantially more campaign funds than both of his challengers, Metts and Bagley, combined. Clark’s campaign seems to be strong and healthy. Nevertheless, if Metts pulls off a surprise, Precinct 4 employees and their families may need to make other plans.
Metts didn’t return telephone calls seeking comment.