Conroe, April 16 – Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough led the Montgomery County Commissioners Court to endorse unanimously the JD Lambright Local Government Ethics Reform Act at the March 26, 2019, Commissioners Court meeting, an action which may usher in a new era of right versus wrong as a standard for conduct in Montgomery County. Many citizens have begun to call Keough “The People’s Judge” for his efforts to stand up for citizen rights and to lower government spending and taxes even in the face of his Commissioners Court colleagues who seek to act otherwise.
What is clear in the process, however, is that Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack has become a strong ally of Keough’s in trying to bring reform to the County government, despite a minor disagreement over the direction of a Facilities Committee which arose during the March 26 meeting. Noack made clear in a brief interview with this newspaper yesterday that he considers Keough a strong friend and ally. “I look forward to working with the Judge and know that, together, we can accomplish a lot,” Noack said.
The Golden Hammer‘s rating system follows the Platform of the Republican Party of Texas.
The Golden Hammer‘s ratings measure Commissioners Court votes that affect spending in comparison to the provisions of the Republican Party of Texas Platform. Points are good. The number of points depends upon the amount of money involved in each vote.
The Commissioners Court, all of whom claim to be Republicans, violated the Republican Party Platform on almost every vote during the March 26 meeting. They violated Plank 144 in particular, which provides:
“144. Government Spending: Government Spending is out of control at the federal, state, and local levels, and action is needed.”
The editorial staff of this newspaper sincerely hopes that Plank 144 is simple enough that even the members of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court might understand it.
Commissioners Court meeting, March 26, 2019, 9:30 a.m. All Court members were physically present.
Votes #1 to 6 – Various Purchasing decisions on consent calendar. These issues need to be the subject of open discussion. Under the circumstances, a “No” vote is appropriate. Each vote is worth 10 points and yet they voted unanimously to spend the citizens’ money without deliberation.
Vote #7 – The Commissioners Court blindly approved the Payroll Changes. This practice needs to come to an end. One of the votes was to approve Precinct 4 Commissioner James Metts’ hiring of his own first cousin, Jane Metts Landers, as a Clerk in his office. Major vote. 25 points. “No” vote appropriate. Passed unanimously.
Vote #8 – The Commissioners Court voted to approve a resolution in support of Senate Bill 710, the JD Lambright Local Government Ethics Reform Act, which the Texas Senate passed 30 to 0 last week and which would allow each Texas county to establish an ethics code and an ethics commission with the ability actually to enforce it. That concept was the dream of JD Lambright, who, as County Attorney, was the lead draftsman for the enforceable ethics code Montgomery County currently has. Major vote. 25 points. “Yes” vote appropriate. Passed unanimously. Keough receives 100 point bonus for outstanding leadership on this issue. Noack receives 50 point bonus for a strong assist.
Vote #9 – The Commissioners Court blindly approved $7,973,676.26 without oversight, discussion, deliberation, or even eyeballing. That’s disgusting. 25 points. “No” vote appropriate. Passed unanimously.
Vote #10 – The Commissioners Court approved a budget policy which will encourage minimal zero-based budgeting for every County government department with respect only to professional development, training, and travel budgets. Isolating sub-accounts such as those sub-accounts within an attempt to conduct true zero-based budgeting doesn’t make any sense. It’s little more than propaganda.
The budget policy does, however, open the budget workshop up to citizen participation and meaningful review by citizens of the proposed budget before the budget process begins. That change in practice is very important. Noack receives a 250 point bonus for that important change which he encouraged behind the scenes.
10 points. “Yes” vote appropriate. Passed unanimously.
Vote #11 – On Noack’s motion, the Commissioners Court put Noack and Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley into place as co-chairs of the Facilities Committee. Although Noack had previously pushed Keough into that position, Keough, a strong fiscal conservative, wanted to avoid rushing into costly facilities expenditures. Apparently some of the bureaucrats in the County government wanted the Facilities Committee to move faster.
Hopefully, Noack will slow the Facilities Committee’s work even more than Noack had.
5 points. “No” vote appropriate. Four (Noack, Riley, Meador, Metts) in favor to one (Keough) against.
Ratings for Commissioners Court meeting, March 26, 2019:
KEOUGH 130/150. Grade B+.
MEADOR 35/150. Grade F.
RILEY 35/150. Grade F.
NOACK 310/150. Grade A+.
METTS 35/150. Grade C.
The following are the cumulative scores for Fiscal Year 2019, which began October 1, 2018.
KEOUGH 2,376/2,542. Grade A.
MEADOR -279/3,085. Grade F.
RILEY -1,549/3,085. Grade F.
NOACK 1,696/3,085. Grade F.
METTS 516/2,542. Grade F.
The citizens must remain vigilant.