Image: A 15-Year Service Award pin (with avant garde Lego for scale).
Conroe, March 25 – A new scandal erupted in the Montgomery County government already widely known as “Pin-Gate” involving one of the County’s most prominent members of County Judge Craig Doyal’s “Hit List,” Precinct 2 Constable Gene De Forest. The terrible situation arises from a very petty decision involving presentation of De Forest’s 15-Year Service Award pin and involves collateral damage and casualties wholly innocent of electoral politics.
Each year Montgomery County’s Employee Committee conducts an award ceremony to honor the County employees who have reached 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, and 40 years of County government service. The ceremony usually takes less than one hour and occurs at 2 p.m. during a weekday. The Committee invites family members and friends of the award recipients who may choose the person who will present their Service Award pin to them.
In the past, the County Judge and some members of the Commissioners Court will attend the ceremony, say a few kind words about the employees, and then watch as others present the pins. Several employees have told The Golden Hammer that they particularly enjoy seeing many retired County employees return for the ceremony so that they may present pins to current employees. One of the favorite presentations comes every five years when Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Edie Connelly elects to receive her Service Award pin from her husband, Andrew, in what is always a touchingly-romantic ceremony. Connelly has served Montgomery County for almost thirty-eight years.
New times have brought change to the ceremony. In secret communications, which two different members of the Employee Committee Board of Directors have now confirmed to The Golden Hammer, County Judge Doyal has instructed the Employee Committee not to include 15-Year Service Award pins in 2017, because Doyal does not want to attend a ceremony which honors the lengthy service of Constable De Forest, a member of Doyal’s “Hit List” of County employees who did not support Doyal’s 2014 election as County Judge in the Republican Primary Election. De Forest leaned towards the camp of Doyal’s electoral opponent Mark Bosma, who served as Montgomery County’s Infrastructure Director before Doyal terminated Bosma’s employment in early 2015.
As a result of Doyal’s direction not to award 15-Year Service Award pins during the upcoming ceremony on April 27, 2017, at 2 p.m., fifty-two (52) other County employees, besides Constable De Forest, will also not be eligible to participate in the ceremony. Usually, less than half of the eligible employees participate in the ceremony, because they elect to continue their job duties instead.
De Forest told The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, “I guess Judge Doyal decided to take a jab at all of the 15 year pins because I’m on his ‘Hit List.’ By taking a jab at me, it’s not fair because they’re hurting all of those other people.” De Forest said, “When I got my list of the people who the County invited to receive pins, I was surprised to find my name and Chief Deputy [Charles] Roper not on the list. I sent an email to the Committee. She sent me an email back saying I’d get a pin but I just wasn’t invited to be part of the ceremony.”
De Forest spoke about the condition of Montgomery County’s embattled government under Doyal. “It hurts in a way but I don’t care about the politics anymore. It’s at a point where Doyal and the other commissioners have treated the Precinct 2 Constable’s Office so bad for the past 16 years, that I don’t expect much from them.” He explained that in the upcoming March 28, 2017, Commissioners Court, De Forest will ask the Commissioners Court to approve approximately $8,000 of funds for a security fence with two gates for his parking lot in order to protect a rescue boat building and other rescue-related equipment.
“I hope they’ll approve my request, but I can’t take it personally, even though I’m saddened for the people of the County. I’m sad not to get to enjoy the Service Pin Award with my family and the dozens of my friends who I looked forward to seeing when I received my pin at the ceremony. I’m sad that I’ve not been asked to be a part of that special moment for other recipients as well,” De Forest concluded.
The Golden Hammer will provide updates as further Pin-Gate scandal developments occur.