Image: Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough presided over the February 9, 2021, Commissioners Court meeting, which was quite thorny to the taxpayers.
“While we must, by all available means, prevent the overthrow of the government, we should avoid planting and cultivating too many thorns in the bosom of society.” – – March 18, 1864, Letter from President Abraham Lincoln to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.
The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Conroe, February 18 – When President Abraham Lincoln wrote those words to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton on March 18, 1864, his point was that for a Constitutional Republic to survive in the face of a civil war, the victorious Union government must not overreact by punishing the Southern states too harshly, or else the delicate nature of a Constitution Republic will face other existential perils. Lincoln cautioned against “planting and cultivating too many thorns in the bosom of society” for fear of a renewed attempt to overthrow the government.
Sadly, through massive taxation and the desire to govern more and more, local governments, especially the very corrupt (downright sick) Montgomery County government, plant and cultivate many “thorns in the bosom” of the taxpayers. And it hurts.
On February 9, 2021, the Montgomery County Commissioners Court held a meeting during which only one of the five members of the Commissioners Court, James Noack, the Precinct 3 Commissioner, seemed sensitive to the thorns (also known as “taxes.”)
The Commissioners Court approved spending more than $40 million on the secretive “consent” agenda, without discussion, deliberation, or consideration. In 223 pages of bills, they unanimously spent $8,628,291.35 on various County government department expenditures. As a result of the disastrous $16 million Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, a spending “debacle” in the words of Commissioner Noack, it is now virtually impossible for any member of the Commissioners Court, any Departmental head, or any member of the public to ascertain what the individual expenditures represent.
The Commissioners Court unanimously voted to approve debt service payments of $29,726,342.38, which such expenditures were hidden so deeply inside the secretive consent agenda that it’s unlikely any member of the Commissioners Court would notice.
The secretive agenda also included an audit of former Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador’s use of cash in his office. Generally, Meador rated highly in the audit, but his deposits of cash were too slow and didn’t comply with the provisions of the Texas Local Government Code.
The secretive part of the meeting also included a $287,250 expenditure for “final drawings” for the David Memorial Drive extension to bring that road up to the jurisdiction of the City of Conroe.
The Commissioners and County Judge also unknowingly approved advertising for “Budgeting, Project Financial Management and Reporting Software Solution,” a strange software for which to seek vendors, since County taxpayers just spent $16 million on the ERP software which is to do just that.
The Commissioners Court’s discussion of vaccine distribution illustrated how deeply President Joe Biden and the left wing expansion of health care has seized local governments across the United States. At the behest of the Biden administration, with the help of a massive infusion of federal tax dollars (which, of course, come out of the pockets of local taxpayers), County Judge Mark Keough has established a massive apparatus to provide vaccine distribution and turn the Montgomery County government directly into a health care provider. Socialized medicine would be an easy next step, given the infrastructure the federal government has forced every locality to put in place.
The County government provided 12,114 vaccinations by February 9, at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds and at St. Luke’s Hospital in The Woodlands. The Commissioners approved a $285,000 expenditure for software to assist in the operation of a “call center” for individuals to get on the wait list to receive the vaccinations for the China Virus.
Meanwhile, Memorial Hermann Hospital – The Woodlands and the Conroe Independent School District have turned the taxpayer-owned Woodforest Stadium into a massive vaccination site as well.
Where Noack showed some sensitivity for taxpayer concerns was in a discussion of providing taxpayer-funded lunches to the individuals staffing the vaccination centers. Noack argued, “I think they need to buy their own lunch. Our emergency crews in the County have to buy their own lunch all the time.”
Precinct 1 County Commissioner Robert Walker argued, “I understand what Commissioner Noack is saying, but this time is different from normal conditions. I understand his concern, but they don’t have time to take breaks.”
In other words, government largesse, on this occasion in the form of providing taxpayer-funded meals for government employees, receives justification, if a public health issue is at stake. The vote was 4 to 1, only with Noack dissenting, to vote for the taxpayer-funded lunches in the amount of $15,000.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the Court engaged in a messy discussion about towing. It began with a motion by Precinct 4 Commissioner James Metts to establish four (4) districts in Montgomery County for towing. The districts largely coincide with the four Commissioner Precincts. In order to operate on a rotation within a District, a towing company must have a storage lot in the district, must store towed vehicles within the same District from which the tow occurred, and must have at least one tow truck within the district.
Sheriff Rand Henderson suffered through the discussion, because he has already begun to implement a system involving 24 towing zones in Montgomery County with different rules and procedures from those Metts proposed.
As Metts explained, “We’re not in the business of regulating commerce. That’s not our job. It’s all about public safety.” Basically, the argument is that the current system of “chipping” at the scene of each accident, where tow truck drivers draw a chip to determine who actually gets the tow job, threatens public safety by allowing too many tow truck drivers to line up at each accident scene.
The Commissioners Court voted unanimously to adopt Mett’s proposal. Immediately after the vote, however, Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley moved to suspend the new towing policy for 90 days in order to permit proper implementation of the new policy.
County Attorney B.D. Griffin informed the Commissioners Court that Riley’s logical proposal could not receive consideration, because it was not on the agenda and would violate the Texas Open Meetings Act, a questionable ruling at best.
In summary, the February 9, 2021, Commissioners Court meeting planted and cultivated many thorns in the bosoms of Montgomery County taxpayers.