Conroe, May 29 – A serious discrepancy between the May 8, 2018, Commissioners Court minutes, as the Court approved them on May 22, and the agenda for the May 8 meeting reveals that the members of the Commissioners Court, particularly County Judge Craig Doyal and Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack, are intentionally hiding payroll changes from the public in the agenda posted before each meeting.
The above screen shot shows the entirety of the “Payroll Change Request Forms” attached to the May 8, 2018, Commissioners Court Agenda. That is the so-called “backup” material, which provides no information whatsoever for the public. Major changes to the County’s payroll occurred on May 8, 2018, including the controversial hire of former Courier blog editor Andy Dubois as a County employee in what appears to be a reward for his pro-government reporting over two decades.
The public had no opportunity to review the proposed payroll changes before the Commissioners Court approved them as a part of the secretive “consent agenda.” In reality, three of the five members of the Commissioners Court had no idea what they were voting to approve either, because they didn’t bother to review the agenda and didn’t seek the content of the secretive “payroll change request forms” prior to the meeting.
Citizens may request the payroll changes under the Texas Open Records Act/Public Information Act, but the County government may delay making the documents available until ten days later, which would be after the Commissioners Court meeting had already occurred. Noack has, however, agreed to respond to most public information requests in a more expedited manner.
In the era of County Judge Alan B. Sadler, all of the proposed payroll changes were actually part of the agenda itself. They wouldn’t even be backup to the posted agenda. By including those changes in the written agenda posted for the public to see, Sadler made the payroll changes readily available to the public.
The era of lame duck County Judge Craig Doyal has changed that. Secrecy reigns. On May 8, Doyal, Noack, and others took major advantage of that secrecy. That they later approved minutes that included every single one of the payroll changes reveals that they are well aware of the fact that those payroll changes are significant enough that they must appear in the Commissioners Court records. Nevertheless, they want to hide those payroll changes from the public as effectively as possible and most certainly before the Commissioners Court votes to approve them along with the secretive “consent” agenda.
It’s, therefore, important to compare the payroll change requests disclosed to the public before the May 8 meeting with the Commissioners Court Minutes which the Court approved two weeks later at the next meeting. Just look at the minefield of County spending and County government management issues that occurred over four pages of the minutes but appeared as one mere line on the posted agenda. You’ll see Noack’s secret hiring of Dubois and many of the terminations, resignations, and reorganizations in the Sheriff’s Office.
It’s precisely the information the public should receive about the mess inside of the Montgomery County government. It’s precisely the information that Doyal and Noack don’t want the public to have.
After the hiring of Dubois occurred on May 8 to the consternation of many citizens, Noack has begun to notify this newspaper voluntarily when the payroll change request forms are available for a request under the Texas Open Records Act/Texas Public Information Act.