Image: Docket sheet for the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Proceeding, Cause Number 02-31250, which Charlie Riley and Deanne Riley filed in 2002 in order to avoid paying their debts.
Magnolia, September 16 – When Charlie Riley and Deanne Riley filed Chapter 7 Bankruptcy on February 2, 2002, to avoid paying all of their debt obligations, their lives began an upturn for the better. Bankruptcy Judge Karen Brown of Houston granted the Rileys a discharge of all of their debts on June 27, 2002. They walked away from their creditors and began a grand new life. That grand new life, however, raises serious questions about the impact of the massive salaries the Montgomery County Commissioners Court now pays to its members. The Commissioners Court members voted themselves that exorbitant compensation, which Riley began to receive only 12 years later when he was elected Precinct 2 County Commissioner.
The story of Charlie Riley
Riley, who is now 60 years old, moved to Magnolia in 1971. His formal education ended when he graduated from Magnolia High School in 1975. He married his high school girlfriend, Deanne, in 1976.
Riley worked in a variety of jobs but never really succeeded at doing much. He and Deanne struggled financially, according to the several confidential sources who confirmed the Riley story to The Golden Hammer. Riley, as always, refused to return telephone calls.
Riley worked for many years as a truck driver for the Miller Brewing beer distributorship in Conroe. In 1999, Riley and Deanne decided to open a truckstop restaurant in Shepherd, Texas, which they leased from the son of the beer distributorship owner. The son was on his way to becoming a schoolteacher, so he sold the truckstop to another investor.
The Rileys had had great trouble running Charlie Dean’s restaurant, which, of course, Riley had named after himself, Charlie Dean Riley. In 2001, they also got into a dispute with their new landlord. Very quickly, the Rileys were unable to pay their debts and failed in making arrangements with their creditors to satisfy their obligations.
Therefore, the Rileys went to an attorney in Tomball and hired her to file a Chapter 7 liquidation Bankruptcy Proceeding for them. Several creditors, including Prosperity Bank, General Motors Acceptance Corporation, and First State Bank of Livingston received permission to foreclose or otherwise take possession of collateral which secured the debt the Rileys had owed to them. Numerous unsecured creditors never got paid at all.
On June 28, 2002, the Rileys received a judicial discharge from the debts under the provisions of Chapter 7 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. Unlike their creditors, the Rileys were able to move forward with their lives.
Welcome to the County!
Craig Doyal had run against Malcolm Purvis in the Democratic Primary Election for Precinct 2 County Commissioner but lost. Doyal and Purvis became friendly, however. Purvis eventually hired Doyal to be his Precinct 2 Operations Manager. In 1998, Purvis and Doyal came before the Montgomery County Republican Party Candidates Committee to announce they were both switching parties to become Republicans because “we want to win.” Purvis ran and won his last election as Commissioner. Doyal ran in 2002 as a Republican and also won to succeed his boss.
When Doyal became the Precinct 2 County Commissioner on January 1, 2003, he hired Riley to be his Operations Manager. Riley worked for Doyal until January 1, 2015, when Doyal became the elected County Judge and Riley became the elected Precinct 2 County Commissioner. Deanne Riley worked in County government jobs almost the entire time as well, enjoying the favoritism she received as the wife of the Precinct 2 Operations Manager and then County Commissioner.
Interestingly, no media outlet reported anything about Riley’s bankruptcy filing even when Riley ran for Precinct 2 County Commissioner. Of course, during 2014, the primary newspaper was The Courier which was heavily biased in favor of pro-“establishment” politicians such as Riley, because its editors jim fredricks and Andy Dubois were modern liberals working for the growth of Big Government.
The significance of Riley’s background
Now, Charlie Riley receives a whopping salary of $168,808, plus benefits the economic value of which is approximately $68,029, for total annual compensation of $236,837. Deanne works as a secretary in a County department in a position Riley created for her. Deanne receives $58,000 salary, plus benefits of approximately $23,374, for a total of $81,374 per year. The two Rileys work substantially less than 40 hours per week but receive a total of more than $317,000 from Montgomery County taxpayers.
Additionally, they receive many perks such as the free storage Riley provides himself for his trailers, the County vehicle and gasoline he receives, the cell phone allowance, and other benefits which Riley takes or receives. Riley and Deanne will also receive free medical care for the rest of their lives thanks to the benefits package Riley has voted for himself as a County Commissioner.
For the sake of argument, let’s give Riley and Deanne the benefit of the doubt that they’re nice people. Nevertheless, neither of them have any education after high school. Neither of the Rileys have any special skills. Neither of the Rileys know or understand budgeting, finance, or project management. Instead, they knew the right people at the right time and received the political favors. Of course, Riley’s popular father, Buddy, is a helpful factor as well.
The reality is, however, that if Riley were not a County Commissioner or a favored County employee, he’d likely be earning substantially less than $70,000 per year. A bankrupt high school graduate with a failed business, no particular skills, and no experience advancing in work does not receive a salary north of $100,000 in the competitive society of the 21st century.
But here’s what the massive salaries of the elected Commissioners Court members do for the taxpayers of Montgomery County. They attract people, just like Riley, who know how to play political games but have little interest in true “public service.”
Someone interested in serving his or her community would not accept such massive compensation of $236,837. The true public servant, sacrificing to do what’s best for his community and for the future generations, would work for compensation far below market prices or even for no compensation at all.
By raising salaries far above any competitive positions in the private sector, Montgomery County attracts politicians without an interest in public service into those very important jobs on the Commissioners Court (apart from a few exceptions).