Conroe, December 29 – As the citizens of Montgomery County enter 2018, they’re faced with a Montgomery County government that carries a reputation as one of the most corrupt, backward, and poorly-run counties in Texas if not the entire United States. As State Representative Mark Keough, who is running as a reformer for Montgomery County Judge in the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election, has often mentioned, when he’s traveling around the state, people often ask him, “What’s wrong with Montgomery County? What’s going on with your county government there?”
In actuality, there’s a lot wrong with the County government. The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, has spent almost a full year researching and reporting the corruption inside the County government. This newspaper has an enormous backlog of stories that we’re waiting to write and report while trying to keep our readers current on the news.
Clearly, the way Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, and corrupt local political boss Marc Davenport are doing things just isn’t working very well for the citizens. Taxes are skyrocketing thanks to the failure of Doyal and the Commissioners Court to control spending, sharply reduce the tax rate, and rein in the artificial property tax increase imposed through the Montgomery Central Appraisal District. The failure of Doyal, Riley, and the Commissioners Court to show leadership in reducing spending and taxes has bled over into the numerous other taxing authorities such as the school district, MUDs, and municipalities who hide under the cover of the failures of the County government.
Citizens are taking more direct action to get policy changes done without the ineffective politicians. The passage of the 20% homestead exemption earlier this year occurred almost entirely as a result of the work of conservative political activists Kelli Cook, Reagan Reed, and their citizen allies. The Commissioners Court just followed them with Doyal eventually voting to support the exemption when he saw a majority of the Commissioners Court was already behind the proposal which Doyal had previously opposed.
Direct citizen action clearly is vital. Citizen vigilance by following all of the local government entities closely and voicing the citizens’ opinions will also move them towards the conservative philosophy of the vast majority of Montgomery County citizens.
At the same time, however, citizens must express their opinions at the ballot box on March 6, 2018, in the Republican Primary Election. In that election is where the people will have the real opportunity to clean up the mess.
Therefore, it’s critical to note what it means to be in the “establishment” and what it means to be a “reform” candidate.
An “establishment” candidate wants policies to remain as they are. Doyal, Riley, JP James Metts, County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport relish the increased government spending of the County government. It’s increased 428% since 2000, while the population grew only 84% during the same time period. In recent years, the increases have been just as bad as the following chart reveals.
What is a “reform” candidate and what does he or she support?
- Reducing Montgomery County government spending. The Citizens Budget Committee has identified more than $100 million of spending cuts that could occur without any reduction in services as well as called for approximately $20 million in law enforcement funding increases and establishing a $20 million per year road, bridge, and capital improvement fund. The net savings would be $60 million off the current governmental expenditure budget.
- Shutting down the Tx-249 Tollway project. It’s $95 million, 4.5 miles, and also known as the Decimation of Hope Highway. TxDOT has made clear they’d build the road anyway as a free farm-to-market road, so the citizens of Magnolia could enjoy the benefits of the expanded road without having to pay tolls. Montgomery County taxpayers would also receive the $13 million they’ve already spent on the tollroad back, according to Doyal.
- Making open government a reality. County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport’s efforts to hide her office procedures, her secret “reorganization” which was really just an effort to promote Doyal’s daughter to a higher-salaried position, Doyal’s encouragement of County Department Directors to make it as difficult as possible for citizens to obtain information, and the secretive “consent agendas” during Commissioners Court meetings must come to an end.
- The top level salaries of the County government must come down. The County Judge and County Commissioners should show some leadership for control of County spending from the top. Not only should they reduce all top-level salaries within the County government, but also they should reduce their own compensation by at least 25%. For a County Commissioner to make $164,000 per year but benefits of approximately another $60,000 per year is completely ridiculous.
- Ethics reform. The Commissioners Court needs to pass a robust, fully enforceable Code of Ethics that prohibits any Commissioners Court member from receiving gifts from County vendors and strictly prohibits any Commissioners Court member from voting for any matter than directly or indirectly involves a conflict of interest. Nepotism should be strictly prohibited within the Montgomery County government. If Craig Doyal wants to work for the County government, then his daughter needs to find a job somewhere else. If Charlie Riley wants to work for the County government, this his wife needs to find a job somewhere else. If Mike Meador wants to work for the County government, then his brother and his granddaughter need to find jobs somewhere else.
- Davenport Ring. Corrupt local political boss Marc Davenport and his entire Ring of corrupt government officials have no business working in or around the Montgomery County government. At this point, that means that County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport, JP James Metts, and County Judge Craig Doyal have got to go. Just recently District Clerk candidate Cynthia Jamieson has begun to work with Davenport, although it’s not yet known if she has paid him anything yet. Unless Jamieson expressly disavows working with Davenport, she shouldn’t be anywhere around the County government.
If candidates won’t answer the foregoing questions about issues, they don’t deserve your vote.