Montgomery County Government “For Sale” Part 5: Phonoscope corruption requires secrecy

Montgomery County Government “For Sale” Part 5: Phonoscope corruption requires secrecy

Image: Montgomery County government record produced, after redaction, in response to an Open Records Act request concerning fiber optic cable company Phonoscope’s business relationship with the County government, corrupt local political boss Marc Davenport, and others. At Phonoscope’s and Davenport’s demand, the County government only produced that information on September 26, 2017, and claimed that the blocked-out portions were protected under the Texas Homeland Security Act (to fight against terrorist threats) and as trade secrets. Nine days later, Sheriff Rand Henderson made the information public in an October 5 Press Release!

Conroe, October 21 – Corruption requires secrecy, particular from the citizens of Montgomery County who are rising to the level of heightened alert and beginning to oversee the County government as is their right. In response to an Open Records Act request, the above image shows how the County government, at the demand of vendor Phonoscope and local political boss Marc Davenport blocked out all of the meaningful information in the document so that the public would have no access to information about the vast sums of money the County government now intends to pay Phonoscope, the deep fiber optic cable provider that doesn’t even have a contract.

Open Records Act request

On July 2, 2017, the Publisher of The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, requested all emails and text messages in Montgomery County’s Information Technology Department referring to “Phonoscope.” Phonoscope is a Houston fiber optic cable provider which, after a secret meeting with corrupt local political boss Marc Davenport, then Sheriff-Elect Rand Henderson, and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley at Phonoscope’s headquarters in Houston, has entered into a very specific plan to construct a fiber-optic trunk line inside the buildings and rights-of-way of the County government, at an enormous cost to the County, with the intention that Davenport would then sell Phonoscope services to municipalities, homeowners associations, and real estate developers who could tap into the trunk line for tributary fiber optic cable service.

After their June, 2016, indictment under the Texas Open Meetings Act for alleged criminal violations, Riley and Davenport had a falling out, so Riley fired Davenport. Riley is no longer a part of the Phonoscope plan to infiltrate the entire County government with Davenport’s supervision and then branch out to cities and private real estate developments afterwards once Davenport and Phonoscope establish trunk line.

It’s the method of establishing a corrupt-government-favored monopoly in Montgomery County for cable service of all sorts. While Davenport is not officially a County employee, he orders County Judge Craig Doyal and his “chief of staff” jim fredricks around, they follow his orders, and several County Departments, including Information Technology, don’t dare get in his way.

Response to Open Records request; bizarre Republic of Texas connection

On July 14, 2017, under Davenport’s direction, the Information Technology Department refused to produce substantial information about Phonoscope but produced some benign emails that basically only contained references to information transmittal without containing any information themselves. County Attorney J.D. Lambright, who is very much in favor of “open government” and has pushed the Information Technology to make the information available, instead had to request an opinion of Attorney General Ken Paxton with respect to whether the documents fell under exceptions to the general rule that all public information must be made available to the public.

Davenport and Phonoscope’s Chief Executive Officer, Lee Cook, who has strong ties to the Republic of Texas, a bizarre group that claims Texas never became a part of the United States, instructed the County IT Department to claim two exceptions to making the information public under the Texas Open Meetings Act. Phonoscope and Davenport claimed the documents about its planned fiber optic cable system inside the Montgomery County government are trade secrets.

The second exception under which Phonoscope’s CEO Lee Cook and Davenport sought to withhold the information from public disclosure was under the Texas Homeland Security Act, because they claimed and they made the County government claim that the proposed fiber optic cable expenditures were “critical infrastructure” containing detailed information that would subject to it to acts of terrorism. Davenport, the corrupt boss who is not even a County employee, may see the information, even though he’s never had a security clearance with the County government (because there aren’t any!). But the public cannot see this highly sensitive information.

Phonoscope CEO Lee Cook.

Interestingly, if this information were subject to a “homeland security” exception, how in the world can the County government establish this critical infrastructure with an individual, Cook, who is an avid financial backer and supporter of the Republic of Texas, which does not even recognize the existence of the United States in the geographic jurisdiction of Texas at all?!

Phonoscope CEO Lee Cook (center in green shirt wearing jacket) with “cabinet members” and other “officials” of the Republic of Texas who claim the United States does not exist inside of the geographic territory of Texas, at a meeting Cook hosted on April 4, 2016.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton responded on September 13

On September 13, 2017, Attorney General Paxton responded to the County government. During the period from July 14 to September 13, however, Phonoscope and Davenport submitted private letters to Paxton directly in which they claimed that the Phonoscope documents submitted to the County government in order to obtain a long-term vendor relationship were excepted from public disclosure as trade secrets and under the “homeland security” exception.

On September 26, the County Attorney’s Office finally produced the withheld documents in response to the Open Records Act request, but they had redacted all meaningful information from those documents.

The page shown at the top of this article is only one among many, but it’s an important example of the information which Phonoscope, Davenport, and the County government are withholding from the public while claiming “homeland security” and trade secret exemptions. In that page, Phonoscope intended to provide fiber optic cable service to the Sheriff’s Office. All of the service is under the big black redaction box. More significantly, the “Montgomery County Construction Share” is a dollar amount that Phonoscope and Davenport are claiming is subject to “homeland security” and trade secrets. Of course, that makes no sense, because that’s the portion of a secret price that County taxpayers are having to pay for Phonoscope’s and Davenport’s providing the fiber optic cable to the Sheriff’s Office complex at 1 Criminal Justice Drive in Conroe.

Sheriff Rand Henderson’s October 8 Press Release: how bizarre!

The whole corrupt arrangement between Phonoscope, Davenport, Doyal, and the County IT Department took a greater turn for the bizarre on October 5, 2017, when Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson issued a Press Release only nine (9) days after the County government had claimed the information was “critical infrastructure” containing technical details subject to acts of terrorism and thus protected as “homeland security” information as well as trade secrets. Henderson’s bizarre Press Release, which The Golden Hammer has confirmed Davenport wrote for the Sheriff who is one of his “clients,” has a title, “Cost Savings Move, Montgomery County Sheriff Chooses Phonoscope for Cable Service Provider.”

In his Davenport-written Press Release, Henderson announced to the world the cost of the Phonoscope installation, the same information that only nine (9) days earlier Davenport and Phonoscope had claimed was “homeland security” and trade secret protected information. But the Press Release was even more bizarre than that. Henderson proudly announced, “It is important to note that even with the Sheriff’s Office current cable TV provider, there is no cost to Montgomery County tax payers.” That’s all well and good but begs the question how much Phonoscope will cost taxpayers. The answer? “A one-time cost of $25,000 with Phonoscope, plus the costs of additional set-top boxes as they are required, is a dramatic reduction in expenditures.”

Now, to be fair, Henderson claims that prisoners will “reimburse” the Phonoscope cost through profits gleaned at the Jail Commissary. Nevertheless, the taxpayers will still front the cost.

More importantly, the Phonoscope vendor relationship is completely corrupt:

  • There’s no contract with Phonoscope.
  • The Commissioners Court has never approved the Phonoscope vender relationship.
  • The Sheriff, as a County Department Director, has no authority to enter into a contract or a vendor relationship without the authority of the County Commissioners Court, but he did so anyway, with Davenport’s permission and authority.
  • Davenport, who is not even a County employee, is directing Doyal, fredricks, and the IT Department.
  • Phonoscope and Davenport claim that information about a non-existent system – and its cost to the taxpayers – somehow constitutes “homeland security” protected information, until the moment they decide to announce that same information to the world in the form of an October 5 Press Release.
  • There’s some bizarre relationship between Sheriff Rand Henderson, right wing fringe groups such as the followers of Arizona’s Richard Mack, Lee Cook, Phonoscope, and the Republic of Texas, who don’t even recognize that Texas is a part of the United States, even though Henderson claims to work with the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and other United States Government agencies.
  • Davenport regularly oversees and supervises decisions of Henderson’s “leadership team,” the Captains at the top of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office command staff, as three members of that team have confirmed to this newspaper on condition of anonymity. They’re not Davenport fans. One of them told this newspaper, “When Davenport is around us, he makes my skin crawl.”
  • On October 9, 2017, Henderson held his Annual Golf Tournament, a political campaign fundraiser. Not surprisingly, Lee Cook and Phonoscope were his “Diamond Level Sponsors” who contributed $10,000 to Henderson’s Davenport-led fundraiser. Cook attended the fundraiser but didn’t play. Instead he just rode around a golf cart with Richard Mack, another of Henderson’s paramilitary connections. Most of Henderson’s command staff attended the fundraiser and golf tournament wearing their uniforms.

Henderson’s corrupt connections are very sad. Henderson is an outstanding law enforcement officer. His leadership team has some genuine “rock stars” on it. Sadly, this newspaper has reported some very questionable behavior by Henderson. He appeared at the meeting with corrupt narcissist JP Wayne Mack where they attempted to force Captain Rusty Fincher out of the Precinct 1 Constable’s race. Henderson has spent enormous time campaigning for another member of the Davenport Ring who is in a lot of political trouble, Davenport’s wife, County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport. Henderson’s leadership team seems to try to stay away from Davenport and the Davenport Ring. Henderson needs to sever those ties as well, so that he can focus on becoming the great Sheriff that he still has the potential to become.

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