Conroe, March 22 – Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal presently is arguing in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals that Doyal, Precinct 2 County Commissioner, and local political boss Marc Davenport have a right of free speech to conduct County government business in secret, despite the Texas Open Meetings Act. Nevertheless, Doyal is taking the position that he has every right as County Judge to restrict citizen comments in the open based upon his whim.
Doyal changes his policy regarding citizen comments during every Commissioners Court meeting. The only people who are in the class whom Doyal “gives leeway” are elected officials and County vendors, the only two castes whom Doyal treats with respect in Commissioners Court meetings. County vendors may drone on for many tens of minutes. A presentation by a representative of the Houston-Galveston Area Council (HGAC), who had great difficulty speaking the foreign language known as English, spoke for almost 20 minutes about nothing other than repeating information in a PowerPoint presentation that is available online at the HGAC website and which many of Doyal’s vendor cronies have previously presented.
Doyal has recently decided that people whom he doesn’t like or with whom he doesn’t agree may only speak for three minutes and only on one occasion in the Commissioners Court meetings. Doyal’s ad hoc rule during the Tuesday, March 20, 2018, Commissioners Court meeting was that if you don’t speak for the full three minutes in one citizen comment, you lose the right to utilize the balance of your time on another citizen comment.
Therefore, Montgomery County’s local political sage, Bill O’Sullivan, who is also Treasurer of the Texas Patriots PAC, gave an approximately two minute and fifteen second citizen comment on the need for a Countywide mobility plan right before the Commissioners Court’s discussion of the failure of Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley and others to get their 2015 road bond referendum projects done in a timely manner. O’Sullivan’s point was that having a mobility plan in place in Commissioners Precinct 3, under the leadership of Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack, enabled Noack and his Precinct 3 team to get their road bond projects done very expeditiously.
O’Sullivan’s citizen comment was both brief and respectful.
O’Sullivan had additional wisdom he wanted to share with the Commissioners Court, so he waited two full hours for Montgomery County Judge Doyal to finish three lengthy executive sessions so that O’Sullivan could make another citizen comment at the end of the meeting when King Doyal, from his throne, will allow citizens to speak on topics not pending before the Commissioners Court. Another citizen had wanted to address the Court regarding her concerns about the failure of Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley to install a traffic light on Fish Creek Thoroughfare despite very clear and obvious public safety concerns in front of Ridgelake Shores subdivision. That citizen gave up waiting for Doyal to finish his lengthy secret discussion about County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport in an illegal and improper executive session.
When O’Sullivan rose to speak, there were almost no citizens left in the Commissioners Courtroom. Doyal was obviously concerned about missing an afternoon tee time. Therefore, the colloquy went as follows:
Doyal: Are there any citizens who would like to address the Court on an item that was not on today’s agenda?
O’Sullivan stood up.
Doyal: Ugh. No. Bill, you already spent your time. Sorry.
O’Sullivan: I didn’t even spend three minutes.
Doyal: Yes, you did.
Meador: Move we adjourn.
After O’Sullivan waited almost two hours to speak, Doyal couldn’t afford him three minutes of his precious time on the golf course.
O’Sullivan has commented in response to the publication of this article:
“I deliberately kept my first comment short because I didn’t know if the second Citizen Comment permitted another three minutes. The Court needs to clarify this procedure as I have seen these rules changed several times without notice except from a new interpretation from the Chair.
“I neither accuse nor harangue. I, as a citizen, point out problems and suggest solutions which I think is the purpose of this time. The topic was timely because several articles had appeared about underutilization of Bond Funds which was causing some concern jeopardizing those Funds because of this underutilization. This was the purpose of the Agenda item.
“I reiterated what I had said at other times that a Countywide Mobility Plan was needed but absent that, higher density areas needed one. Mobility is most needed in higher density areas or their anticipation. Think ‘Central Park’ in Conroe and the new Hughes Development in Willis. These will have a strong effect on the I-45 corridor north of the San Jacinto as well as the Feeder Roads in those areas.
“I believe the Funding method of bonding is arcane. We are paying $167.00 for every $100.00 of new roads because of Bond Interest. This gives us more debt and fewer roads. I have begun to discuss with Legislators a way to ameliorate that. The 20 most populous counties in the State have 75% of the State’s population. Montgomery County is one of them. That fact needs to be leveraged to produce the desired Mobility results. I intend to spend time in Austin during the Session early next year to push that issue.”