Passage of Ethics Commission marks positive first Montgomery County Commissioners Court meeting for Fiscal Year 2020

Passage of Ethics Commission marks positive first Montgomery County Commissioners Court meeting for Fiscal Year 2020

Image: With Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley absent, the Montgomery County Commissioners Court, at its first regular meeting during Fiscal Year 2020 on October 8, 2019, acted decisively and unanimously in approving an Ethics Commission to take advantage of the provisions of the JD Lambright Local Government Reform Act, which the Texas Legislature passed during the 86th Legislative Session and Governor Greg Abbott signed into law in the late spring. The members of the Commissioners Court are from left to right, Precinct 4 County Commissioner James Metts, Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack, Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough, and Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador.

The Golden Hammer Staff Reports

Conroe, December 2 – The Montgomery County Commissioners Court’s first meeting during Fiscal Year 2020, on October 8, 2019, saw decisive and unanimous action when the Court opted into the ethics provisions, by a 4 to 0 vote, of the JD Lambright Local Government Reform Act, which the Texas Legislature passed during the 86th Legislative Session and Governor Greg Abbott signed into law in the late spring of 2019. Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley was absent from the meeting, which was probably positive since Riley has, by far, the worst ethics record of any member of the Commissioners Court.

The Lambright Act emanated from State Representative Steve Toth and State Senator Brandon Creighton, both Republicans of Conroe. Under the legislation, the Commissioners Court had to opt into the statute’s provisions and then later appoint an ethics commission which would prepare an ethics code with genuine enforceability similar to the ethics commission which has worked quite well in El Paso County under the same statutory provisions. An enormous number of private citizens, particularly under the leadership of conservative Republican activists Jon Bouche, Reagan Reed, and Kelli Cook lobbied fiercely for passage of the legislation.

Vote #1. With little discussion, which centered mostly on the method of selection of Ethics Commission members, the Court acted swiftly and decisively in the first major vote of Fiscal Year 2020. Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough, the “People’s Judge,” had put the item on the agenda for consideration of the Commissioners Court. It was a gigantically important vote. 1,000 points. Keough receives a 500 point bonus for his leadership on the issue. The vote was unanimous, so all four members of the Commissioners Court who actually bothered to show up for the meeting received the 1,000 points for the vote.

Ratings explained

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 October 8 meeting, other than the Ethics Commission 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.

Commissioners Court meeting, October 8, 2019, 9:30 a.m. All Court members were physically present, except for Riley.

The votes

Vote #2 to 17. Blind approval of 16 purchasing contracts totaling over $2.4 million. There was no review whatsoever for the pricing or the contract terms. 25 points x 17! “No” vote appropriate. Passed unanimously (16 times).

Vote #18. $11,508,324.85. Payment of Accounts with no oversight from the Commissioners Court whatsoever. Major vote. 25 points. Should vote “no.” Passed unanimously.

Vote #19. Purchase of 2000 tons of crushed concrete for road damages in Commissioner Precinct 4 from Tropical Storm Imelda. This emergency function is legitimate, but the problem is there was no oversight of the pricing, $110,000.  According the Wall Street Journal, a cost of $55 per ton for crushed concrete is substantially above market prices. Major vote. 25 points. Should vote “no.” Passed unanimously.

Ratings for Commissioners Court meeting, October 8, 2019:

KEOUGH 1,500/1,475. Grade A+.

MEADOR 1,000/1,475. Grade D+.

RILEY 0/1,475. Grade F.

NOACK 1,000/1,475. Grade D+.

METTS 1,000/1,475. Grade D+.

The following are the cumulative scores and Final Scores for Fiscal Year 2020, which began October 1, 2019.

KEOUGH 1,500/1,475. Grade A+.

MEADOR 1,000/1,475. Grade D+.

RILEY 0/1,475. Grade F.

NOACK 1,000/1,475. Grade D+.

METTS 1,000/1,475. Grade D+.

The citizens must remain vigilant.

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