Montgomery County Commissioners Court locks out Citizens Budget Committee report, even though on meeting agenda, County Attorney Lambright criticizes Commissioners Court

Shifty-eyed lame duck Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal once again did a poor job running the Commissioners Court meeting on July 10, 2018.

Conroe, July 12 – With Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal make up the rules as he goes along, the Montgomery County Commissioners Court, on July 10, 2018,  locked out the Citizens Budget Committee’s report, even though it was formally on the Court’s Agenda for consideration. The Citizens Budget Committee (CBC) is a group of eighteen (18) citizens who have spent more than three thousand hours in total studying the Montgomery County government and its budget for the purpose of recommending spending cuts.

As CBC Spokesman Adrian Kaiser, who is also a Republican Precinct Chairman and member of the Montgomery County Republican Party Steering Committee, has explained, “The goal of the Citizens Budget Committee is to reduce expenditures by $100 million by Fiscal Year 2022 but to establish a capital improvement fund and increase law enforcement resources by a total of $40 million, for net savings of $60 million.” The CBC recommendations for Fiscal Year 2019, which begins on October 1, 2018, include spending cuts in non-law-enforcement departments of the County government in excess of $25 million, an increase in law enforcement spending of $5.4 million, and an increase in a capital improvements fund of $2.7 million, for net savings to the taxpayers of approximately $16.9 million.

The CBC recommendations for Fiscal Year 2019, which begins on October 1, 2018, include spending cuts in non-law-enforcement departments of the County government in excess of $25 million, an increase in law enforcement spending of $5.4 million, and an increase in a capital improvements fund of $2.7 million, for net savings to the taxpayers of approximately $16.9 million.

The CBC’s work and detailed report has created a serious public relations problem for Doyal, his sidekick Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, and freespending Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador, because the CBC has garnered substantially greater information and understanding about County finances than Doyal (who has worked for the County for almost three decades), Riley (who has worked for the County since 2002), and Meador (who came into office in 1993). The ignorance of Doyal, Riley, and Meador became apparent on September 5, 2017, when they passed a Fiscal Year 2018 Budget that had numerous inconsistencies, errors, and other problems, many of which the CBC noted in a supplemental report but which Doyal, Riley, and Meador chose to ignore. As a result, the Commissioners Court passed the Budget on a 4 to 1 vote (Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack joined them while Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark voted against the Budget), but they’ve had to pass over three hundred (300) budget amendments since October 1, 2017, for Fiscal Year 2018 alone.

The CBC had designated Kaiser as its Spokesman. Kaiser had put in many hours of hard work in order to prepare his presentation to the Commissioners Court.

Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark had placed the Citizens Budget Committee report on the Commissioners Court Agenda in a timely manner on Thursday, July 5, 2018. The item appeared as Agenda Item on the legally-posted Agenda as follows:

Early in the meeting on July 10, the Commissioners Court unanimously approved the entire Agenda as the meeting Agenda, which, of course, included the Citizens Budget Committee report.

Unfortunately, Clark was unable to attend the Commissioners Court meeting for health reasons. He’s battling head and neck cancer and is recovering from surgery from some of the complications from the chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Therefore, when the Commissioners Court reached Agenda Item 18B1, concerning an interlocal agreement for some road work between the City of Conroe and the County government, Doyal handled that matter for Clark. The Commissioners Court passed the item unanimously.

Doyal, Riley erect roadblock for CBC

For the next item, however, the CBC report presentation, Doyal treated the matter differently than he has any other similar matter that a member of the Commissioners Court has placed on the meeting Agenda.

Doyal began the discussion, “Amy, this next item, presentation of the Citizens Budget Committee, because it’s not a County Department presentation, is that something that requires action, requires a motion and a second to hear?” Doyal raised the roadblock by putting Assistant County Attorney Amy Dunham on the spot. Doyal had never taken such action previously in the entire three-and-a-half years during which Doyal has tortured Montgomery County citizens with his County Judgeship. In 2017, Doyal did nothing of the sort.

Dunham responded nervously, “It’s an Agenda item. It’s an Agenda item so there’s a presentation if you want to hear it.”

Noack said, “Move” in order to allow the presentation to proceed under the implied ostensible new procedure Doyal had just created to block the CBC Report.

Doyal asked, “Is there a second?” Of course, there was silence from Riley and Meador.

Doyal gaily announced, “Motion fails for lack of a second.”

What happened there?

For the first time in the history of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court, the Commissioners Court blocked a presentation from someone supposedly because they were not a County Department without a motion and a second merely to present the report. Of course, the Commissioners Court under Doyal’s bizarre leadership has heard reports from the Houston-Galveston Area Council, the Montgomery County Tollroad Authority, chambers of commerce, some of Doyal’s favored nonprofit organizations to whom he funnels tax dollars for political favors in return, and other private entities, without a motion and a second merely for them to present reports to the Commissioners Court.

What’s even more ridiculous is that non-County Departments made presentations during the same meeting without a motion and a second. The Veterans Memorial Commission, which is a nonprofit organization, gave a very lengthy report earlier in the meeting without a motion or a second to allow them to speak.

In fact, there were several presentations during the Agenda which were merely reports and which Doyal allowed to proceed without a motion and a second:

  • Agenda item 11A concerning building remodeling – discussed without any motion or second.
  • Agenda item 12A concerning spending factors for the upcoming budget – discussed without any motion or second until after the presentation.
  • Agenda item 12B concerning the Fiscal Year 2019 Budget – discussed without any motion or second.
  • Agenda item 18A1 concerning the County Auditor’s budget – discussed without any motion or second.
  • Agenda item 18A2 concerning budget amendments – discussed without any motion or second.
  • Agenda item 18A3 concerning disaster relief, which involved a report from Jim Stinson of The Woodlands Joint Powers Agency, which is not a County Department – discussed without any motion or second until after the report presentation
  • Agenda item 7A – a different veterans presentation than the one discussed above from people who were from outside of a County Department – discussed without any motion or second.
Lambright, Dunham too honest and forthright to cavort with the likes of Doyal, Riley, Meador
In response from an inquiry by the Citizens Budget Committee members yesterday after the Commissioners Court meeting, Montgomery County Attorney J.D. Lambright issued the following statement:
“When Commissioners Court agenda item 18.B.2. came up today, the County Judge asked Amy Dunham, one of my Assistant County Attorneys who is the Chief of my Government Affairs Division, the following question: ‘Amy, this next item Presentation of the Citizens’ Budget Committee, because it’s not a county department presentation, is that something that requires action, that requires a motion and a second?’
“In reviewing the audio recording of the meeting, I was not able to discern exactly what Ms. Dunham said as her voice was very low on the recording. However, in her answer she did indicate that the court could hear the agenda item. That’s when Commissioner Noack immediately made a motion that the item be heard. There was then a period of dead silence, as no one seconded the motion.
“If I had any idea the question was about to be asked, or if I had been asked the question, my response would have been as follows:
“‘Since shortly after you took office in January 2015, Commissioners Court has loosely followed the procedure of asking for a motion and a second prior to the court beginning the discussion of an agenda item. However, on numerous occasions over the past three years, the court has not followed that procedure, but instead has gone ahead and initiated discussion without a motion and a second. In fact, the court did not follow that procedure on several occasions today. The court has frequently deviated from this procedure regardless of whether the agenda item was being presented by a county department or by someone not affiliated with our county government”.
“’So, your question is not one requiring a legal response, as it is purely procedural in nature. Consequently, the court is certainly free to proceed to discuss this agenda item with or without a motion. It is a decision to be made by the court, not by the County Attorney’s Office. However, I would advise the court to be consistent in whatever approach it follows.’”
“‘Since shortly after you took office in January 2015, Commissioners Court has loosely followed the procedure of asking for a motion and a second prior to the court beginning the discussion of an agenda item. However, on numerous occasions over the past three years, the court has not followed that procedure, but instead has gone ahead and initiated discussion without a motion and a second. In fact, the court did not follow that procedure on several occasions today. The court has frequently deviated from this procedure regardless of whether the agenda item was being presented by a county department or by someone not affiliated with our county government”.
“’So, your question is not one requiring a legal response, as it is purely procedural in nature. Consequently, the court is certainly free to proceed to discuss this agenda item with or without a motion. It is a decision to be made by the court, not by the County Attorney’s Office. However, I would advise the court to be consistent in whatever approach it follows.’” – – – Montgomery County Attorney J.D. Lambright, July 11, 2018.
Montgomery County’s Sage, Bill O’Sullivan, who is the CBC Vice Chairman, added, “Quite frankly to pull this off when it’s a Jim Clark Agenda item is dishonoring Jim while he’s ill, not to also say it was childish.”
Later in the meeting, Doyal, from his throne, allowed Kaiser to make a three-minute citizen comment during which Kaiser partially present the CBC report. Under the circumstances, with Doyal and Riley glaring at Kaiser as though Kaiser had just committee a crime in public, Kaiser did a fine job with his greatly-shorted presentation.
Once again, Doyal and Riley don’t want to hear anything about reducing government spending or about the County government budget, unless the presentation merely agrees with their very clear goal of increasing spending and taxes as quickly as possible.

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