Conroe, August 8 – During the July 10, 2018, Montgomery County Commissioners Court meeting, Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack and County Judge Craig Doyal led the Court into a spending spiral that accelerated as they moved into the budget workshop two weeks later from which they excluded public participation before adopting the proposed budget that clearly will become the final Fiscal Year 2019 Budget after three rote hearings and the formal vote on September 4, 2018. Clearly, Noack, Doyal’s, and the remainder of the Commissioners Court were focused on giving themselves 3% pay raises over their already-far-too-high salaries, which became the driving force in the entire budget process.
The five-member Commissioners Court, all of whom are Republicans, violated the Platform on almost every vote. 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.
The Golden Hammer‘s rating system follows the Platform of the Republican Party of Texas. The Republican Party just adopted a new Platform on June 17, 2018. In order to assist the members of the Commissioners Court, particularly those three or so who have obviously never read the Platform of the Republican Party of Texas on which they ran for office, this newspaper will begin to refer to the appropriate Platform Plank for each item on the Commissioners Court Agenda which this newspaper rates.
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.
Commissioners Court meeting, July 10, 2018, 9:30 a.m. All Court members were physically present with the exception of Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark who is fighting for his life and battling the effects of radiation treatment and chemotherapy.
Vote #1: One of the first actions the Commissioners Court took on Tuesday, June 26, was to approve spending an additional $11,343,243.88. Those expenditures have received no oversight whatsoever. The vote included approval of spending $29,563.78 in fees to Graves Humphries Stahl for the NetData/JP Collections debacle which is costing the County government and the taxpayers more than $880,000 per year. The payments included $48,487.02 to Muller Law Firm for the TX 249 Tollway and $21,036.75 for the TX 249 Tollway as well. In other words, Noack voted both for the Tollway and for the NetData payment scandal! They don’t care, because they’re spending other people’s money. 25 points. “No” vote appropriate. Unanimous vote in favor.
Vote #2: 15 budget amendments totaling more than $3 million. All of those budget amendments reveal how poorly the Montgomery County government does managing its budget. In the same time period when the County government has passed over 200 budget amendments, the City of Conroe’s government has passed four amendments almost all pertaining to emergency expenditures related to Tropical Storm Harvey. 25 points. No vote appropriate. Unanimous vote.
Vote #3: Approve purchasing agreements and change orders totaling over $1 million without any discussion or oversight. 10 points. No vote appropriate. Unanimous vote in favor.
Vote #4: Approve Rules of Procedure for Commissioners Court. The only reason such rules are necessary is because Doyal is completely out of control as the presiding officer. The rules still include a time limit of 30 minutes for any one topic of citizen comments. Therefore, if a vitally important issue such s the proposed May 2015 road bond referendum was pending before the Commissioners Court, Doyal would have a means of excluding conversation about this topic. No vote appropriate. 10 points. Unanimous vote in favor.
Vote #5: The Commissioners Court voted to increase County government spending by over $1 million for employee medical benefits. Since Noack voted himself a benefits increase, the vote was unanimous. No vote appropriate. Major vote. 25 points.
Vote #6: Without reviewing the proposed contracts for fairness of the terms or the fairness of the pricing, the Commissioners Court approved 11 major contracts totaling over $10.5 million. These contracts deserve review from someone’s eyes on the Commissioners Court. One of the more controversial contracts is that for decedent transport. Eickenhorst Memorial, a funeral home which contributes substantially to Craig Doyal’s legal defense fund and political campaign, received the contract without the bids or the terms of the contract disclosed to the public or the Commissioners Court. No vote appropriate under the circumstances. Major vote. 25 points.
Vote #7: They gave nepotistic County employee Craig Case a new job in the Building Maintenance Department. Case is a terrible employee. As the HVAC “controls manager” who does not have a license, Case has cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars resulting from faulty installations of HVAC equipment. Since Case is the son of former Building Maintenance Department Director Craig Case, the Commissioners Court hid Case’s salary under the County Engineer’s Department, even though he worked directly for his father in the Building Maintenance Department. The Commissioners Court unanimously propagated this came by hiring Case into the Building Maintenance Department now that his father has retired. 10 points. No vote appropriate. Unanimous in favor.
Vote #8: Noack initiated a sickening discussion wherein Noack and Doyal, with the assistance of Assistant County Attorney B.D. Griffin, tried to rationalize why they lied to the public about reducing the County Auditor’s Budget by $300,000 after establishing the Budget Office on September 5, 2017. Noack and Doyal repeatedly promised publicly that they would reduce the Auditor’s Budget, because she no longer provides budget functions. Noack tried to blame the Board of District Judges for not making the budget amendment to reduce the Auditor’s Budget, but the Commissioners Court regularly amends the County Auditor’s Budget without the approval or permission of the Board of District Judges. There was no vote, but Noack receives a 500 point reduction for trying to perpetrate this scam against the citizens.
Vote #9: Receive the Citizens Budget Committee report. Doyal blocked the presentation of the Citizens Budget Committee report even though Commissioner Clark had placed the item on the agenda. Doyal receives a 500 point reduction. The Citizens Budget Committee has several citizens who know far more about the County government budget than do Doyal and the Commissioners Court. Nevertheless, Doyal didn’t want to hear from them.
Scores for the July 10, 2018, meeting follow.
DOYAL -500/130. Grade F.
MEADOR 0/130. Grade F.
RILEY 0/130. Grade F.
NOACK -500/130. Grade F.
CLARK 0/130. Grade I.
The following are the cumulative scores for Fiscal Year 2018, which began October 1, 2017.
DOYAL -2,315/8,779. Grade F.
MEADOR -470/8,779. Grade F.
RILEY -470/8,779. Grade F.
NOACK 6,886/8,779. Grade C+.
CLARK 7,920/8,779. Grade A-.
The citizens must remain vigilant. Noack has chosen to destroy the future of his children and our children, so that he may enjoy a hefty salary increase for spending other people’s money right now.