Conroe and The Woodlands, January 26 – During the candidate debate before the Texas Patriots Tea Party PAC on Tuesday, January 23, 2018, both Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley had to answer questions about the County government’s nepotism policy. Doyal and Riley were defiant regarding the hiring and promotion of Doyal’s daughter and Riley’s wife, situations where Doyal and Riley have had direct involvement.
The Montgomery County government suffers from rampant nepotism. In addition to Doyal’s daughter and Riley’s wife, County Commissioner Mike Meador got a job for his brother Bill in the Building Maintenance Department and for his granddaughter in the Juvenile Probation Department. The Building Maintenance Department has an entire immediately family working together where the father is the supervisor of his wife and son. The Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace court, where James Metts directs the department when he occasionally shows up for work, employs Metts’ live-in girlfriend, Metts’ cousin, and Precinct 4 Constable Rowdy Hayden’s mother. Hayden’s wife is an employee of the East Montgomery County Senior Center. There are many, many other instances of nepotism in the Montgomery County government.
January 23 candidate forum
At the Texas Patriots Tea Party PAC candidate debate for the Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner race in the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election, the moderator asked “What are our views of nepotism?”
Gregory Parker who is challenging Riley answered, “Nepotism is not dealt with at all in our County Code of Ethics…The Building Maintenance Department has significant nepotism not being checked.” In an obvious reference to Riley, Parker added, “Somebody’s wife works for some other elected official…It doesn’t pass the smell test.”
Riley responded defensively about the hiring of his wife Deanne Riley in Precinct 5 Constable David Hill’s office, “We all know how that happened. I was done wrong. The reports were wrong in the newspaper and in a blog. I didn’t create a position like it was reported. I didn’t do anything to make David Hill hire her. It’s not right to tell someone how it was done knowing how it was done.”
Brian Dawson, the other challenger to Riley responded, “Commissioner, you made the motion and that’s the fact of the matter. You have have saved a lot of people the heartache. You should have shown judgment. Our faith in local government is perpetually eroded.”
Riley then asked for a rebuttal in which he said, “I didn’t make the motion for my wife to go to work. David Hill wanted to upgrade the position. I didn’t create a new position.”
During the County Judge debate an hour later, the moderator asked Doyal and State Representative Mark Keough, Doyal’s challenger, the same question, “What are your views on nepotism?”
Keough answered first, “It’s not being dealt with at all. Nepotism shouldn’t be tolerated at any level in the entire County. As we move forward, we need to end it.”
Doyal responded, “I see some firemen in the audience. Some of them wanted to follow in the footsteps of their parents. My daughter works hard for another elected official. She wants to follow in my footsteps. There’s no conflict of interest at all.”
Mis-statements of fact by Riley and Doyal
Both Riley and Doyal severely mis-stated the facts concerning Riley’s wife and Doyal’s daughter.
Riley created the position in Precinct 5 Constable David Hill’s office as his public actions clearly revealed. Riley made the motion in the Commissioners Court and had put that item on the meeting agenda. Later, Riley’s wife was named for the position. Neither Riley nor anyone in Doyal’s office would admit to placing the item to hire Riley’s wife for the newly-created position on the meeting agenda. Somehow, the agenda item appeared by itself in their view of the reality (that they want the citizens to believe). Riley did recuse himself from the vote.
As to Doyal’s daughter, Doyal worked very closely with County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport to try to give his daughter a promotion to Assistant County Treasurer in September, 2016. Davenport hired Doyal’s daughter into her department. Davenport got the appointment in June, 2013, as County Treasurer on Doyal’s motion and recommendation after Davenport and Doyal’s daughter had become social friends.
Here are the full facts.
The Riley “Two-Step”: how Charlie Riley created and placed his wife Deanne Riley into a County job
Riley’s “Two-Step” is the means by which Riley created a new County employee position at one Commissioners Court meeting and then proceeded to fill that position with his wife, Deanne Riley, at a subsequent Commissioners Court meeting. Here’s the sequence of events that culminated in Riley’s “Two-Step” which certainly appears as though it’s direct nepotism.
As a result, at the November 22, 2016, Commissioners Court meeting, Commissioner Charlie Riley placed on the agenda and made the motion for creation of a new position for a receptionist to receive $58,000 per year (an exorbitant salary for such a position) within Precinct 5 Constable David Hill’s office. Constable Hill’s office is adjacent to Charlie Riley’s Commissioner’s Precinct office in Magnolia.
As Dodi Shaw, the County’s Human Resources Director, confirmed, Hill never posted or advertised for the new receptionist position. At the next County Commissioners Court meeting, on December 13, 2016, the Consent Agenda included a cryptic item “Approve Payroll Change Request Forms” which provided the public no notice whatsoever what it concerned. The Publisher of The Golden Hammer, however, obtained the payroll change request forms which revealed that Deanne Riley was to receive the job her husband had created only a few weeks previously. At the December 13 meeting, Riley did not vote for the payroll change requests.
Charlie and Deanne Riley successfully completed the “Charlie Riley Two-Step.” Deanne Riley got the job! Riley used his position as a County Commissioner to create the new position since her employment relationship at the Sheriff’s Department didn’t work out.
Doyal and Stephanne Davenport: nepotism to benefit Doyal’s daughter
On March 14, 2017, corrupt Montgomery County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport lied to the Commissioners Court and to the public on at least two counts with respect to her “reorganization” of her 6-person County Department which the Commissioners Court approved on a 3 to 1 vote (Noack absent, Commissioner Jim Clark voting “no”).
As Montgomery County Human Resources Director Dodi Shaw confirmed in an interview with The Golden Hammer, County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport, who is also the wife of controversial political consultant Marc Davenport, lied (1) when she told the Commissioners Court on March 14, 2017, that someone in her Treasurer’s department had made a “mistake” in preparing a Personnel Description Questionnaire (PDQ) showing that the County Judge’s daughter would receive a substantial promotion to Assistant County Treasurer with a substantial raise as part of the “reorganization,” and (2) when Davenport repeatedly told numerous citizens who asked that promoting the County Judge’s daughter was never part of the proposed reorganization.
On September 26, 2016, Davenport brought the County Judge’s daughter, who is a payroll assistant in her department, to a meeting with HR Director Dodi Shaw and HR Assistant Director Kathy Flowers in the conference room of the HR Department. Davenport requested the meeting to discuss a proposed “reorganization” of the 6-person County Treasurer’s Department.
Shaw and Flowers have confirmed precisely where each of the meeting participants sat during the meeting and appear to have a vivid recollection of the events which transpired. Flowers and Shaw have explained that they sat on the north side of the conference table with Davenport and Judge Doyal’s daughter on the south side.
The meeting began with Davenport trying to seek assurance, wrongfully, that “all conversations within this room [would be] kept confidential” as Davenport herself admitted in a letter she wrote to jim fredricks, Doyal’s “chief of staff” on January 9, 2017. The State of Texas has a policy of “open government” and “transparency.” Davenport’s attempt at secrecy started the meeting badly. In her January 9, 2017, memorandum, Davenport admitted that “I presented Dodi [Shaw, HR Director] with PDQs for 6 full-time positions and 1 part-time position.” Shaw, in her February 13, 2017, letter rebutting several accusations Davenport made against her, agreed with that portion of Davenport’s description of the meeting.
But where the events got a bit hazy was in the origin of the PDQs. Davenport has refused to disclose who actually prepared the PDQs. Since Shaw and Flowers have now disclosed that Davenport physically handed the PDQs to Flowers across the conference room table during the September 26 meeting, it’s quite difficult for Davenport not to claim authorship or for Davenport to attempt to shift the blame for the content of the PDQs to someone else in her Treasurer’s Department or otherwise.
The September 6 PDQ stated it was “PREPARED BY STEPHANNE DAVENPORT, MONTGOMERY COUNTY TREASURER.” The September 6 PDQ proposed a promotion of County Judge Craig Doyal’s daughter to the position of “ASSISTANT COUNTY TREASURER.” There’s no subtlety about that. Since we now know that Davenport physically handed the PDQs to Flowers at the beginning of the meeting and the first page of the PDQs contained those statements about their preparation and the promotion for Doyal’s daughter, it’s all now very clear.
In an exclusive interview with The Golden Hammer, Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack explained that “During a break in a Tuesday Commissioners Court meeting in late September or early October, 2016, Judge Doyal asked me whether I’d support a promotion of his daughter Lindsey Doyal to the position of County Treasurer. I told him that he’d have to explain that rationale for that promotion to the entire Commissioners Court before I decided anything like that.”
The Publisher of The Golden Hammer received more than two dozen tips during October and November, 2016, from multiple County employees that Davenport intended to promote the County Judge’s daughter as part of her departmental “reorganization.” When the Publisher asked Davenport and her husband, they both denied that there was any proposal to promote the Judge’s daughter. (Of course, during that time frame, The Golden Hammer did not yet exist and the Publisher hadn’t seen the actual September 26 PDQs.)
Both Davenports lied about whether a proposal to promote Lindsey Doyal was on the table.
During her fiery presentation to the Commissioners Court, on March 14, 2017, which she read entirely from a prepared statement, Stephanne Davenport accused Shaw and the entire HR Department of a “huge lack of integrity.” Davenport then proceeded to tell the shocked room full of people that she does not “exploit” or “magnify” mistakes. Davenport told the Commissioners Court that the draft PDQs were “mistakes” but she refused to identify who drafted the document, which states “PREPARED BY STEPHANNE DAVENPORT” which she physically handed to Flowers during the September 26 meeting. Davenport told the Commissioners Court that she refused to disclose the document author because “mistakes are not exploited or magnified in my Department.”
Stephanne Davenport, County Judge Doyal, and Doyal’s daughter are close friends. Davenport and Doyal’s daughter have traveled together and gone on vacation together. Doyal contributes substantial funds to Davenport’s political campaigns. Doyal paid Marc Davenport $5,000 as a fee to represent Doyal in negotiations for a November 2015 road bond referendum.
In an exclusive interview with The Golden Hammer on February 19, 2017, Stephanne Davenport stated,
“By definition, nepotism is an abuse of power. Nepotism does not occur in my department. Yes, I house the daughter of the County Judge. However, the County Judge does not interfere with the day to day operations of my employees.”
Arguably the worst nepotism in Montgomery County: Precinct 4 JP James Metts
Although he rarely comes to work, James Metts is the Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace. As such, he is subject to the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct, which provides in Canon 3C:
“A judge shall avoid nepotism and favoritism.”
Metts does not seem to let the law constrain his conduct. He seems to do what he wants to do, including sexual harassment, filing fictitious lawsuits where he’s the plaintiff and judge in the same case, giving people such as corrupt local political consultant Marc Davenport the fictitious title of “sworn deputy” in official Montgomery County employee meetings, and even killing a man in a car accident.
Nepotism is certainly no exception for James Metts. Of 13 employees in his court office, four of them are serious nepotism problems:
- Metts hired and is the director supervisor of his live-in girlfriend Diane Rogers, who works for Metts as his Juvenile Case Manager and who is his business partner in a pie and flower shop that she and Metts run together as a full-time job;
- Metts’ cousin Jane Metts Landers is a full-time employee in his JP 4 office, although she rarely works full workdays;
- Precinct 4 Constable Rowdy Hayden’s mother, Jerry Sue Hayden, is also a full-time employee in Metts’ office, who also works less than full days while drawing her full paycheck;
- Precinct 4 Deputy Constable Mark Seals’ mother, Diane Seals, also works for Metts in his JP 4 office.
Metts and Stephanne Davenport are, of course, members of the Davenport Ring of corrupt elected officials who take their orders from political boss Marc Davenport.
Here’s a list of some of the other major instances of nepotism in Montgomery County, but there are actually so many, many more:
- Commissioner Mike Meador + his brother Bill Meador (works in Building Maintenance)
- Paul Case, Director of Building Maintenance + his son Craig Case who works for him in the same Department (game-playing aside)
- Rob Wright, Assistant Director of Building Maintenance + his wife who works for him directly in the same Department
- Rob Wright, Assistant Director of Building Maintenance + his son who works for him directly in the same Department
- County Auditor Phyllis Martin + her sister Suzie Harvey, Elections Administrator
There are many, many others, including instances where elected officials’ spouses work for the County as well.
Is there a solution to nepotism?
Nepotism creates a lot of problems. It creates poor employee morale and jealousies. It prevents employment decisions based upon merit. It creates conflicts of interest for the affected employees who should focus on their duty to their employer, Montgomery County, rather than their obligations to family members. There are other problems from nepotism concerning many permutations.
But there’s also an interesting area where one probably ought to consider looking past nepotism: law enforcement. Why? Is this situation just another instance of someone giving a “pass” to law enforcement? Not really. Historically, law enforcement families tend to remain law enforcement families. Parents raise their children to follow in their footsteps. Husbands and wives often share the backgrounds, histories, and values of certified peace officers, which is precisely how they become husbands and wives in some instances. Peace officers receive different specialized training for their careers. Their legal duties are drilled quite intensely into them from the beginning of their careers. Nepotism has not historically created problems in law enforcement fields, as long as the affected individuals don’t work together.
Of course, even in law enforcement or fire departments, parents or spouses should never work directly together.
In recent months, there have been some discussions about “fatal nepotism,” which means a nepotistic relationship which kills someone’s career. While it’s true that nepotism rules should not create unnecessary fatalities (i.e., job losses), there are clearly instances where nepotism is so fraught with likely peril, that those fatalities (i.e., employment terminations) become necessary.
So here are some basic nepotism rules, which Montgomery County should consider adopting. Affinity means “by marriage.” Consanguinity means “by blood relationship.”
Rule #1: A member of Commissioners Court (County Judge, four County Commissioners) and any relative within two degrees of affinity or consanguinity may not both work for Montgomery County.
Rule #2: A member of Commissioners Court may not vote on any matter pertaining to any County Department if the member has a relative in that Department within three degrees of affinity or consanguinity. Such excluded votes do not include voting for or against the adoption of the entire County Budget.
Rule #3: County employees may not work in the same Department with anyone to whom they’re related within three degrees of affinity or consanguinity. Similarly, County employees may not work with anyone to whom they’re related within three degrees of affinity or consanguinity, whether they’re officially in the same Department or not.
Rule #4: No relationship within three degrees of affinity or consanguinity may form the basis of any employment decision (hiring, firing, promotion, demotion, salary or wage determinations).
Those rules would solve the problems. Montgomery County’s government desperately needs to reform. Should we grandfather in current employees?
NO. As Stephanne Davenport said, “By definition, nepotism is an abuse of power.”
Perhaps, it’s time for the County government to stop abusing power.