Conroe, January 10 – Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal threw a petulant fit during the January 9, 2017, Commissioners Court meeting when two of his colleagues – Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack and Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark – dared question whether there would be sufficient revenue to pay for the $95 million Tx-249 Tollway that will be approximately 3.6 miles long from Spring Creek to 0.96 miles south of Pinehurst. Doyal also refused to accept a heavy stack of more than 1,000 anti-tollroad petition citizens which conservative political activist Kelli Cook attempted to present to him.
Doyal insisted upon voting to issue advertising for construction bids on the Tollway, despite:
- The fact that several citizens rose to oppose the Tx-249 Tollway project, also known as the Decimation of Hope Highway and presented petitions with over 1,000 signatures opposing the tollroad;
- The engineering firm, CDM Smith, that Doyal, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, and Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador voted to give $400,000 for a traffic and revenue (T&R) study still has not completed that study or presented its findings;
- The Texas Department of Transportation’s Victor Vandergriff and Quincy Allen announced in the Commissioners Court and privately in consultation with Commissioners Court members that TxDOT would build a free road from Spring Creek to Pinehurst, if the County chose not to build the road as a tollroad.
- There are not yet construction drawings off of which any proposed contractor could even bid, as both Doyal and County Purchasing Director Gilbert Jalomo both said during the meeting.
The Commissioners Court voted 3 to 2 in favor of issuing the advertising after almost no discussion whatsoever. Clark and Noack voted against the resolution.
Knowing that several citizens were waiting to make comments about the tollroad resolution, Doyal began the tollroad discussion by stating, “This being a new year I hope we can show some respect and decorum in this courtroom.” Apparently, in making that statement Doyal was apologizing to Montgomery County citizens for the disrespectful manner in which he ran meetings of the Commissioners Court during 2017 when he repeatedly interrupted citizens, cut them off without allowing them the full time to speak, disregarded citizen requests to speak altogether, rudely yelled at citizens who sought to speak on agenda items, and showed favoritism when citizens who are his political cronies spoke for lengthy periods of time.
Influential conservative political activist Kelli Cook began the citizen comments by presenting more than 1,000 anti-Tx-249 Tollway petitions to the Commissioners Court. This newspaper will provide detailed coverage of the citizens comments later this week. The striking aspect of Cook’s presentation occurred at the end when she tried to hand the heavy stack of petitions to Doyal.
Doyal refused to accept the petitions from Cook who was obviously struggling under the weight of the heavy number of petitions. Rather than showing any courtesy, Doyal waved Cook away and instructed her to give the petitions to the County Clerk representatives recording the meeting. Chief Deputy County Clerk Darin Bailey politely apologized and told Cook that the Clerk’s Office didn’t hold tollroad documents. Finally, Assistant County Attorney Amy Dunham, who saw how Cook struggled not to fall down under the weight of the petitions, said “I’ll take them.”
Other citizens who spoke against the Tx-249 Tollway were Bill O’Sullivan, Paul Gebolys, Reagan Reed, Diana Gebolys, and Ginger Russell.
Doyal attempted angrily to rebut the citizen comments. He admitted, however, “Grimes County is getting a free road from tolls generated on the southern portion of road.” Incredibly, Doyal admitted that Montgomery County’s tolls were going to pay for the Grimes County portion of the Decimation of Hope Highway, since Doyal failed to fight against tolling of the Montgomery County portion of the road, as did the Grimes County Commissioners Court so successfully.
Noack then said, “It has been mentioned that we don’t have a T&R study yet. I would like to see that study before we vote on this.”
Doyal snapped back at Noack, “We’ve seen the draft of it. Mr. Muller presented it the last time he was here,” referring to Sugar Land Rich Muller who works for Doyal. Doyal’s statement was false:
- The Golden Hammer confirmed with both Noack and Clark that they’ve never seen a draft of the T&R report.
- Nothing in Muller’s December Commissioners Court presentations to which Doyal referred contained any draft T&R report.
- If Doyal has seen a draft of the report, that comment would be inconsistent with some of Doyal’s statements during the next few minutes of the Commissioners Court meeting.
Doyal then predicted, “That study will show there is more than adeqate revenue generated from this project.” Somehow, Doyal already knows that the fix is in with the CDM Smith T&R study.
Very politely and in an extremely quiet manner, Clark then asked, “What’ll we do if it doesn’t?”
At that point, Doyal completely lost his cool and began to lecture Clark, “Commissioner, you heard the draft. You heard Mr. Muller talk about the revenue projections. It’s going to more than cover the revenue required for the debt service on this project.”
Somehow, Doyal believes that some verbal musings of a lawyer he hired as a spokesman for the Tx-249 Tollway should replace a formal engineering study for which the County taxpayers have paid $400,000 and of which no one has received a draft.
Sadly, Doyal seemed to suffer from an overactive imagination, since no one on the Commissioners Court was aware of any sort of “draft,” “revenue projections,” or “adequate revenue” that anyone, including Doyal’s lawyer Muller, presented to the Commissioners Court.
Since Riley and Doyal want and need the Tx-249 Tollway project to proceed in order to funnel money to their favored political and criminal legal defense fund contributors, they were going to vote to advertise for the project no matter what, especially because they don’t want to take the risk that the Tollway won’t be locked into place if they lose in the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election when they’re both running for re-election against serious opponents.
Readers should expect precipitous action from Doyal, Riley, and Meador to move the Tx-249 Tollway project forward during the next eight weeks.