Image: The citizens of Montgomery County face at least four major perils with Lame Duck Doyal as Montgomery County Judge for the remaining nine months of 2018. The people must exert extraordinary vigilance during this time period to prevent the damage Doyal could cause.
Conroe, March 12 – Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal will now serve more than nine full months as a lame duck Montgomery County Judge until the new County Judge, almost surely State Representative Mark Keough, will take the oath of office on January 1, 2019. While people may want to celebrate the victory for reform candidates in the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election, many serious perils remain.
Doyal is young enough that he’ll likely go into private business, such as lobbying or marketing for regional engineering and contracting firms, since Doyal has ties to bureaucrats and politicians in many governmental entities in the region. Doyal’s primary constituency and group of political contributors have been outside-of-Montgomery County engineering firms, contractors, and developers. Therefore, his transition to work for those business entities would be a natural progression.
Readers should note that Doyal has worked as an employee of the Montgomery County government for almost his entire adult life. Therefore, he’ll receive a full pension plus lucrative benefits when he leaves his job.
There are at least four major areas, however, where Doyal can do serious harm to the interests of Montgomery County citizens during his remaining nine months. Now that he no longer has a constituency, it’s very likely that Doyal will take actions that he feels benefit himself and his friends rather than the citizens of Montgomery County. Those are the great perils we face.
One of those perils involves a “Hit List” member, Montgomery County Human Resources Director Dodi Shaw, who came to work for Montgomery County when longtime HR Director Diane Bass retired. Shaw came from private industry. Her level of work has been outstanding and her professionalism as an Human Resources expert has shown in her independence from political pressure.
After the 2014 Republican Primary Election and after the 2014 Republican Runoff Election, Doyal created a “Hit List” of County government employees whom he hoped to terminate for their support of his electoral opponent, Mark Bosma. Doyal included Shaw on each version of the “Hit List.”
Doyal has exhibited particular enmity towards Shaw after Shaw halted the efforts of County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport to push through a proposed “reorganization” that was little more than a pretext to promote Doyal’s daughter to a higher position with substantially higher pay within the County Treasurer’s Office in September 2016.
Shaw and one of her Department staff members stepped into the situation, pointed out how Davenport’s plan appeared to be little more than an abuse of power, nepotism, and refused to approve the employee reorganization.
Doyal’s most recent attempt to fire Shaw
Doyal’s most recent attempt to get rid of Shaw occurred in March, 2017, when he scheduled a secret meeting on a Friday afternoon in which Doyal and Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador intended to meet with Shaw to terminate her employment. Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack found out about the scheduling of the meeting. Noack insisted that he attend the meeting with Shaw.
Doyal canceled the meeting. Noack saved Shaw’s job.
Noack had to exert those heroic efforts to save Shaw’s job, after Doyal and Davenport, the wife of corrupt political boss Marc Davenport, sought to terminate her. Constitutionally, the entire Commissioners Court would need to terminate a County department director, but Doyal has taken it upon himself and usurped the Texas Constitution by terminating Department directors on his own when he doesn’t approve of their politics. County Purchasing Director Darlou Zenor lost her job that way after she dared provide a rapid response to a citizen’s request for public information under the Texas Open Records Act.
How the ugly story began: Davenport’s “reorganization” of her 6-person department which was actually a pretext to promote Doyal’s daughter and give her a raise
A flood of County employees leaked to The Golden Hammer a waterfall of copies of a letter, dated February 13, 2017, from Shaw to Doyal, in which Shaw (1) pled for her job, (2) promised loyalty to Doyal, and (3) complained about allegedly aggressive tactics by County Treasurer Davenport to procure a promotion for the County Judge’s daughter to “Assistant Treasurer” in a so-called “reorganization” of the County Treasurer’s department.
Shaw made clear that she wrote the letter to Doyal and distributed it to the other members of the County Commissioners Court on February 13 to fight for her job and to respond to a memorandum, dated January 9, 2017, from County Treasurer Davenport. Shaw concluded the letter, “My job as the HR Director for the County is very important to me and I take great pride in the fact me and my employees are ethical and treat our roles and responsibilities with pride and integrity.” She pledged her “full loyalty and support” to Doyal and the other members of the Commissioners Court.
Shaw explained that “Since 2015 I have spoken to some of the members of the Commissioners Court regarding my concern of being targeted due to the fact I was friends with [former County Infrastructure Director] Mark Bosma” who ran against Doyal for County Judge in 2014.
In her letter, Shaw stated, “Judge, I have met with you numerous times in reference to my concerns for my continuous employment with the County. The first time was 1/21/15 and we talked about my concerns of my name being on your ‘hit list’ to terminate certain employees” who worked with Bosma while he ran against Doyal in the 2014 Republican Primary Election. Shaw reiterated her pledge: “I told you I would be loyal to you as the County Judge…and give you 100%.”
Shaw further described, “On 11/4/15 I met with you [Doyal] regarding a conversation you had with Darlou Zenor, former Purchasing Director [whom Doyal fired in 2016]. You told Darlou that someone saw me, Darlou and Mark meet on Friday nights at Joe’s Pizza in a back corner. I told you that I have never been to Joe’s with Mark or Darlou and especially on a Friday night. The only times I have been to Joe’s on a Friday night was to pick-up a take-out order…You would not tell me who started the rumor. I told you [Doyal] again that I was loyal to the members of the Court…”
Doyal’s Witch Hunt Arising from The Golden Hammer Breaking the Facts Surrounding Goetzgate
Shaw continued in the letter,
“During the first week of December 2016 we spoke regarding my concern of some of the posts Mr. Yollick had posted about Melissa Goetz’s termination. I felt you thought the information in his posts had been released by either me or a member of my staff. I assured you that I did not provide Mr. Yollick with any information about her termination until after I received an open records request for her personnel file from Mr. Yollick, Catherine Dominguez, Conroe Courier and John Wertz.”
Shaw reminded Doyal in her letter earlier this week that “You [Doyal] sent me an email on 12/2/16 stating you had no concerns about my job performance or anyone in my office, yet I still feel as though I am being targeted.”
The Golden Hammer has previously reported that Doyal has worked closely with his “chief of staff” jim fredricks to ferret out any disloyal County employees who might dare provide information about County operations to members of the public. Shaw’s letter again confirmed Doyal’s internal “witch hunt” to ensure absolutely loyalty to him inside all County departments.
Nepotism Rampant?! County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport’s Reorganization, Confrontations with Shaw and Her HR Staff
The bulk of Shaw’s 5-page, single-spaced letter addresses Shaw’s claimed confrontations with County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport and with Fredricks over Shaw’s concerns regarding Davenport’s proposed “reorganization” of her 8-person department, which includes County Judge Craig Doyal’s daughter. Doyal has repeatedly voted for the budgets of the County Treasurer’s Department even though the Department engages in the nepotistic practice of employing his daughter as the payroll coordinator.
Shaw made clear in her letter that most of her confrontations with Davenport arose, because Davenport and fredricks sought to promote and elevate Doyal’s daughter to the position of “Assistant County Treasurer.” Shaw provided a lengthy and detailed timeline concerning her alleged confrontations with Davenport over these issues.
In her letter, Shaw described an October 31, 2016, meeting where Shaw suggested that Doyal’s daughter might be “uncomfortable” participating in the meeting with Shaw, Deputy HR Director Kathy Flowers, and Davenport, because the primary subject of the meeting was Lindsey Doyal. Nevertheless, Doyal’s daughter declined to leave the meeting. During the meeting, Shaw described,
“Stephanne stated she did not think an employee should not be considered for a position based on their last name. Kathy stated that some people felt that…[Doyal’s daughter] was in her current position [as payroll coordinator] because of her last name…” Davenport suggested that the HR Department was delaying approval for the reorganization because “’it might be another reason’.”
Two weeks later, according to Shaw, Davenport contacted Shaw’s HR Department and confronted Flowers about something “sinister going on in the way we were reviewing” the proposed new employment positions for the Treasurer’s proposed reorganization. Various complaints from Davenport continued over the next two months, according to Shaw.
On January 25, 2017, the tempers came to a head, as the letter described, in a meeting between Shaw, fredricks, Davenport, and Craig Doyal in Doyal’s office. Shaw explained, “Much to my disappointment Stephanne was allowed to lead the meeting in an unprofessional manner by attacking me in a raised voice. I asked Stephanne several times to stop attacking me but she was allowed to continue in this manner. I tried to discuss the timeline but she spoke over me and continued to attack my comments. Stephanne would not listen to what I had to say and demanded that I return all of the…” departmental proposals for employment positions in Davenport’s proposed reorganization.
Doyal’s Attempts to Stop the Public from Receiving Public Information
Later in the meeting, Doyal and fredricks accused Shaw of leaking information to Eric Yollick, publisher of The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading newspaper. Shaw responded, “I told both of you [Doyal and fredricks] I did not leak anything to Eric Yollick and that both of you know how I feel about him stirring stuff up in the County.”
As Shaw and Davenport continued their disagreements over Davenport’s reorganization, according to Shaw, another dispute broke out over whether Davenport would include her proposed position changes and reorganization for the County Treasurer’s department on the February 14, 2017, Commissioners Court Agenda. Two confidential sources, one of whom was inside County Judge Craig Doyal’s office, confirmed that Davenport and Fredricks held lengthy meetings on Friday, February 10, 2017, concerning the issue of what to place on the Agenda for the February 14, 2017, Court meeting. Eventually, because Shaw’s HR Department never approved any proposed agenda item, the County Treasurer did not have anything on the Agenda, although a source inside the County Attorney’s Office has confirmed that earlier drafts of the Agenda did include such an item.
Shaw’s letter contains many serious allegations of nepotism, favoritism for the County Judge’s daughter as a County employee, demands of loyalty by Doyal to County employees, fear among the employees over Doyal’s “Hit List,” Doyal’s paranoia about information pertaining to the termination of former County employee Melissa Goetz, and attempts to prevent public information to “leak” out to the public whom Doyal, fredricks, and others apparently desperately seek to exclude from that information.
Noack and Doyal traded lofty accusations arising out of the dispute between Shaw and Stephanne Davenport. The Golden Hammer obtained the letters, while Doyal has attempted to hide them from public view.
The accusations between Noack and Doyal began in a testy executive session held on January 10, 2017, during a regular Commissioners Court meeting in which Doyal presented Davenport’s accusations against Shaw.
Doyal had hoped to keep the matter secret by raising it in executive session. Documents created outside of executive sessions are not exempt under the Texas Open Records Act, even if discussed inside an executive session. Davenport provided her letter complaining about Shaw in secret to Doyal’s “chief of staff” fredricks (who supervises a staff of two administrative assistants). While Doyal read parts of the letter to the Commissioners Court during the executive session, he didn’t actually provide the letter to Noack until Noack had later requested a copy.
On February 1, 2017, in response to receiving a copy of Davenport’s letter, Noack wrote,
“It seemed as though you felt this letter would somehow justify terminating Mrs. Shaw. Comments you have made, and continue to make, confirm your long-standing desire to terminate her. I believe you have created an environment where it is difficult for Mrs. Shaw to succeed as the Human Resources Director for Montgomery County. I do not believe it is coincidence that the name Dodi Shaw was a name on the ‘hit list’ you denied having in a Commissioners Court meeting in 2015. I am referring to the ‘hit list’ you are rumored to have created during your 2014 campaign. The list is said to include the following county employees: Mark Bosma – terminated, Darlou Zenor – no longer employed by Montgomery County [after Doyal terminated her], Dodi Shaw, Don Carpenter [Convention Center Director].”
In September, 1971, President Richard Nixon compiled an “enemies’ list” with the assistance of George Bell and Charles Colson. The list became public knowledge prior to Nixon’s resignation, Bell’s death, and Colson’s imprisonment. (Please see “Doyal Compiled ‘Hit List’ for Political Enemies After 2014 Election Victory” (January 21, 2014)).
Doyal’s “Hit List” included
1) Mark Bosma, County Purchasing Director, and Doyal’s primary opponent, who lost his county job soon after Doyal became County Judge on January 1, 2015;
2) Precinct 2 Constable Gene DeForest;
3) Precinct 3 Constable Ryan Gable;
4) J.D. Lambright, County Attorney, who began to work closely with Doyal after Doyal became County Judge and has now begun to act as Doyal’s private counselor to enable Doyal to engage in activities in conflict of interest with his duties as County Judge;
5) Brett Ligon, Montgomery County District Attorney;
6) Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack, Doyal’s nemesis on the Commissioners Court;
7) Scott Nichols, County Environmental Health Director;
8) Dodi Shaw, County Human Resources Director;
9) Captain Mike White of the Office of Constable, Precinct 2;
10) Bruce Zenor, Lieutenant, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department; and
11) Darlou Zenor, County Purchasing Director, whom Doyal fired in November, 2016.
In his February 1, 2017, letter, Noack further wrote:
“I believe your overzealous desire to terminate Mrs. Shaw not only clouds your judgment and demonstrates your relentless pursuit to subjugate county departments and operations, it creates undue liability for Montgomery County…It is apparent that you are not capable of managing the human resources department. Therefore, I respectfully ask you to move human resources under the court.”
Noack concluded his letter to Doyal with a discussion of the pending indictment of Doyal and the alleged relationship to Davenport and her husband:
“With regards to the letter from Mrs. Davenport, first, before I could possibly make any decisions, I would need Mrs. Shaw to address these accusations…Furthermore, being that you are under indictment, with Mr. Davenport, the timing of this is suspect.”
Doyal responded to Noack’s accusations with a strongly-worded letter on February 3, 2017, which began, “Your email dated Feb. 1, 2017 makes it abundantly clear you are completely unaware of a number of factors my office deals with on a regular basis.”
Doyal is actually quite correct in that assertion. Doyal and County Lambright have implemented a strong secrecy policy in the County government that would likely render even County Commissioners unaware of what occurs.
Doyal stressed his need for secrecy further, “By releasing confidential information from executive session, you have exposed this county to unwarranted potential liability and are in violation of any acceptable personnel management procedures.”
Doyal, ungrammatically and discordantly, addressed the “Hit List”:
“Your reference to a rumored ‘hit list’ are concerning.”
Doyal expressed his “grave concern” about “the actions you [Noack] took against the advice of the County Attorney’s Office to release information from executive session. Your questionable action creates potential liability for the county, is a violation of your oath of office, undermines trust and creates an ineffective working relationship with the rest of the court.”
Doyal actually made a good point. If Doyal, fredricks, Meador, and Riley want to operate in secrecy, Noack’s ardent attempts to shine the light of day upon the inner workings of the County government would naturally create “an ineffective working relationship with the rest of the court.”
Shaw remains the County Human Resources Director and operates one of the most independent County Departments with the strong integrity that a Human Resources Department should have. The citizens, at the top of the County organizational chart, should remain vigilant to ensure that Shaw’s employment continues beyond the end of 2018.