Image: HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL: FOR YOUR EYES ONLY! (If you are a Russian hacker or a terrorist, please do not look at the above drawing): Montgomery County’s “High Level Initial Phonscope [sic] Network.”
Conroe, October 18 – Warning: If you are a Russian hacker or a terrorist from any nation, please do not read this article, because according to the County government, corrupt local political boss Marc Davenport, and Phonoscope Fiber Communications, the drawing contains “critical infrastructure” that could make the County government susceptible to a terrorist attack! The information is so sensitive that only corrupt political boss Marc Davenport (whom the County Human Resources Department does not list as a County employee) and his chosen few within the County government may see this highly-sensitive data.
The Golden Hammer thanks seven County employees who provided information based upon maintaining confidentiality for this story and one non-County employee who did the same.
County government “for sale”
Montgomery County’s government is for sale. It seems that the primary salesman is none other than corrupt political boss Marc Davenport, the “consultant” who is married to County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport, writes what Wayne Mack says and thinks, and leads the Davenport Ring – the County Treasurer, Mack, County Judge Craig Doyal, Sheriff Rand Henderson, Precinct 4 JP James Metts, Precinct 4 JP candidate Jason Dunn, and, for some odd reason, Precinct 4 Constable Rowdy Hayden. Until they were indicted together for alleged violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act in June, 2016, Davenport included in his “Ring” Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley. Riley fired Davenport after their indictment.
Davenport and Metts have foisted the Graves Humphries/NetData collection and database system on four of the five Justice of the Peace Courts, which, as a result, are losing millions of dollars in uncollected fines and fees. Meanwhile, the County government pays GravesHumphries a fortune for the terrible collection work and litigants in those JP courts cannot review their court files online or elsewhere due to the inaccessibility and difficulty of use of the system.
The beginning of the Phonoscope story
Phonoscope is a fascinating company with roots to the postwar history of Houston when Lee Cook founded the company as a technological leader. Cook, who is now 91-years-old, still leads the company and is actively involved in its research and development work. Cook has ties to the Republic of Texas, an odd group that claims that Texas is an independent nation and that Texas is not a part of the United States.
In an October 13, 2017, article, “Montgomery County Government ‘For Sale’! Part 3: Doyal Receives ‘The Golden Hammer’ Award For Ties To Influence-Peddling Marc Davenport, Phonoscope, The Golden Hammer presented a very broad overview of the Phonoscope story:
- how Marc Davenport orders County Judge Doyal, Doyal’s “chief of staff,” and at least six (6) County Department Directors
- that Davenport really has the veto power over the Commissioners Court Agenda
- it’s critical to the future of the Davenport Ring to get rid of Jim Clark as Precinct 4 County Commissioner
- it’s critical to the future of the Davenport Ring to get rid of Edie Connelly as the Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace
- how Davenport and Doyal are working together to destroy any competition among deep fiber optic cable providers, so that Phonoscope will have the clear path to develop its cable services as the dominant system in the entire Montgomery County community
- how it all began in a secret meeting at Phonoscope’s corporate headquarters in Houston in early 2016 to establish the secret relationships between the Montgomery County government, the County’s officials, and this aggressive County vendor.
The relationship between the Montgomery County government and Phonoscope began in the strangest of ways, a secret meeting in the late spring of 2016 after Rand Henderson had beaten Jim Napolitano in the Republican Primary Election but before the indictments of Davenport, Riley, and County Judge Craig Doyal for alleged violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act.
It turns out that Phonoscope’s Chief Executive Officer Lee Cook, who maintains close ties to the Republic of Texas and other right wing fringe groups, also happens to be close friends with Richard Mack, the former Sheriff of Graham County, Arizona, who met Henderson at some national law enforcement gatherings. Mack suggested that Henderson meet Cook, so they set up the secret meeting to discuss Phonoscope.
Henderson, of course, won’t go anywhere without his “political brain,” Davenport, so he invited Davenport to attend the meeting with Cook. Davenport wanted to bring a County government decision maker with him to the meeting, so Davenport told his then-puppet Riley to join them for the meeting.
Davenport, Henderson, and Riley met with Cook at Phonoscope’s headquarters in Houston. It was a memorable meeting. Cook has an engaging personality and is positively brilliant. He has many interests that range from politics and technology to games, sports, and money.
Phonoscope’s headquarters is quite unusual. Cook has a bit of a “man cave” thing going there. He has a pool hall with pool tables. While they talked, Davenport and Henderson played several games of pool. Riley didn’t play much pool, because he found something else at the Phonoscope headquarters to interest him: Phonoscope’s state-of-the-art music recording studio. Riley is an accomplished musician and spent considerable time inside the studio enjoying its first-rate technology and amenities.
The fun meeting among the four of them cemented a relationship.
Montgomery County’s government doesn’t conduct business by the old-fashioned methods of bidding, competitive pricing, and contracts. Instead, when Davenport gets involved, government contracting occurs by secret meetings, dictatorial contracts, and decisions based upon his demands.
A plan developed
Riley dropped out of the planning when he and Davenport had their falling out after Riley blamed Davenport for their Open Meetings indictments. But the discussions ensued nonetheless.
Cook wanted Phonoscope to move into the exciting high-growth Montgomery County market for deep fiber optic cable networks. He suggested the idea of installing the cable in Montgomery County’s government facilities and County rights-of-way for free or almost no price at all. Of course, when the County actually began to use Phonoscope’s facilities, the County government would have to pay a price.
Phonoscope would have the exclusive right to install a trunk line for its fiber optic network subsidized by the County’s government’s right-of-way system. There’d be no need to worry about competitive bids.
More importantly, however, by gaining access to County government facilities and rights-of-way at little or no cost, Phonoscope would be in the prime position to market its services – almost as an exclusive monopoly – to private real estate developers, homeowners associations, and the numerous municipalities throughout Montgomery County. Cook wanted Davenport and the Davenport Ring to be a part of the deal. Davenport wanted to make the Phonoscope network a reality!
Implementing the plan
The implementation of the Davenport – Phonoscope plan would take some time and some machinations. Most of that story will come in future articles in this newspaper.
Nevertheless, Davenport, Cook, and Henderson began to develop a real plan to get their public access for Phonoscope and Cook to develop a private competitive advantage.
Because Davenport operates in secret and certainly only orders Doyal around behind closed doors, it’s not surprising that, when The Golden Hammer made a request under the Texas Open Records Act for Phonoscope documents, the County’s Information Technology Department, under Davenport’s orders, responded – along with Phonoscope itself – by taking the position that the responsive documents were not subject to public disclosure under the Open Records Act for two reasons. First, Davenport and Phonoscope wanted the County IT Department to claim that Phonoscope’s plans submitted to a small group of employees within the County government – Doyal, IT Director Marshall Shirley, and one other person – were “trade secrets” excepted from disclosure. Secondly, Davenport and Phonoscope’s Cook ordered the County IT Department to claim that Phonoscope’s plans were “critical infrastructure” subject to protection from possible terrorist threats under the “homeland security” exception to the Open Records Act’s requirement of public disclosure of public information.
Davenport and Cook went so far as to require the County government to seek protection from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Paxton, it turns out, is an honest broker when it comes to government transparency. On September 13, 2017, in a decision provided to this newspaper about two weeks later, the Texas Attorney General ordered the Montgomery County government to release the Phonoscope documents to The Golden Hammer, because (1) there’s nothing proprietary about them, especially since the County Commissioners Court has never even approved any of the Phonoscope plans, and (2) in order to fall under the “homeland security” exception, a governmental entity must identify the “particular vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure to an act of terrorism.”
Davenport and Cook failed to convince Attorney General Paxton that a threat to duplicative fiber optic cable lines, most of which weren’t yet even installed and which the Commissioners Court hadn’t approved, were any sort of vulnerable infrastructure.
The Montgomery County High Level Initial Phonscope (sic) Network is significant in several respects:
- Cook, Phonoscope, and Davenport have an entire fiber optic cable system that they intend to install throughout the Montgomery County government, even though the Commissioners Court has never provided approval for that to occur;
- Phonoscope intends to include fiber optic cable lines in Precinct 4 even though Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark has not given the approval for Phonoscope and Davenport to lay the system there;
- The fiber optic cable network document shows that Riley’s Precinct 2 Office and Meador’s Precinct 1 Office are on the system, even though they’ve never given approval;
- Phonoscope’s network reveals hubs from which Davenport, Phonoscope, and Cook intend to expand the system outside of the County government but to use the County government as a taxpayer-funded trunk line.
Without even passing through review in the Purchasing Department, Phonoscope now, thanks to Davenport, Henderson, and Doyal, is on its way to become the deep fiber optic cable provider for Montgomery County without any Commissioners Court approval of the network or a contract for the network. If another deep fiber optic cable provider is on the verge of getting a contract or work order from the County, Davenport will order Doyal to overrule that contract or work order, so that Phonoscope and Cook may proceed with the plans secretly hatched at the original meeting at Phonoscope’s headquarters in a secret meeting with two County employees and one claiming to be one.