Image: Left to right, Ginger Russell (Republican Precinct Chair and conservative activist from Magnolia, also known as the Quiet Lady From Magnolia), Bob Bagley (East Montgomery County community leader who is on the Montgomery County Hospital District Board), Kelli Cook (Montgomery County Coordinator for the Campaign for Liberty, rancher in Montgomery, and conservative political activist), Bill O’Sullivan (The Sage, Texas Patriots Tea Party PAC Treasurer, animal rights activist and Animal Shelter volunteer), Reagan William Reed (youngest elected Republican Precinct Chairman in Texas from the Willis area, Empower Texans Correspondent, campaign manager, conservative Republican activist).
Conroe, December 28 – Overwhelmingly, the citizens of Montgomery County have begun to displace the Power Top Ten of the political servants inside the government. It’s become apparent at Montgomery County Commissioners Court meetings where County Judge Craig Doyal can’t even control himself let alone the citizens whom he’s tried to exclude. #1 of the Power Top Ten is the citizens!
The article continues below after the following brief editorial:
Congratulations to YOU for being #1 of the Power Top Ten. The citizens have awakened and are accomplishing a lot more than mere government officials even come close to getting done.
With serious power, however, comes serious responsibility. It’s not just a matter of maintaining dignity as people, such as the Davenport Ring or the Charlie Riley Band, act like angry adolescents whose don’t like threats to their money or power. It’s far more, because your responsibilities don’t end with the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election.
Yes, it’s important that reformers win the election. But after reformers, such as Mark Keough or Melanie Pryor Bush win, you as a citizen must remain awake and vigilant. You must ensure that Keough, Bush, and other reformers not only hold true to their campaign words but also that they hold true to the ideology of smaller government, a society freer of government intervention, a government where bright-line ethics rule, and a government where the citizens receive the respect and dignity that the highest public officials of all should receive in the governmental system of Locke, Hobbes, and the Founding Fathers of the United States and Texas.
Celebrate briefly, but, please, don’t forget that your duties as a citizen (the Power #1) never end.
The photograph above merely provides some examples of the citizens who are within #1 of the Power Top Ten. They’re a lot more powerful than United States Congressman and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (#2) or Montgomery District Attorney and law enforcement superstar Brett Ligon (#3). They’re making the top of the County government organizational chart a reality: citizens are at the top.
Now, let’s face it. It’s within the County government where citizens have begun to take a more active role. Many governmental entities remain elitist and closed to citizen input. Go to a meeting of the Conroe Independent School District where an hour of citizen comments would seem to have far less impact than a 30-second telephone call Superintendent Don Stockton receives on his cellphone in the middle of a Board of Trustees meeting. The Magnolia Independent School District also operates to the exclusion of citizen input; it seems that the Charlie Riley Band runs that school district plain and simple. (Riley has had his Band since he served as a school district board member and board president and clearly uses it as a means of political campaigning and a means of political exclusion of his opponents to whom the school district refuses to give equal time before parents, teachers, and administrators.) The Montgomery County Hospital District also operates as a closed society that is, in fact, so opaque that the Board of Directors members don’t seem to have a firm understanding of the basic mission or purpose of the District.
What 2017 revealed, however, is that citizens can wield enormous influence when they make the conscious decision to exercise the leadership which the American and Texan constitutional systems provide to the ultimate decision makers, the citizens. In the County government, the Commissioners Court usually appears weak and confused. Even the staged political events, such as Doyal’s transgender adoption resolution or Riley’s Charlie Riley Band citizen comment session in favor of Doyal’s and Riley’s Tx-249 Tollway, seem out as serious and focused as an episode of “The King of Queens.”
What 2017 revealed, however, is that citizens can wield enormous influence when they make the conscious decision to exercise the leadership which the American and Texan constitutional systems provide to the ultimate decision makers, the citizens.
The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, continues the tradition of listing the Power Top Ten, the ten most powerful people in Montgomery County. The Power Top Ten doesn’t commemorate the ten best people in Montgomery County necessarily, but the most powerful people who are actually able to accomplish political or policy goals. In other words, they can get things done.
Something has happened in the last year or so. The citizens have become vigilant. The citizens of Montgomery County are getting things done often to the dismay and disappointment of the servants – who refer to themselves as “elected officials” – who sometimes seem to think of themselves as a higher caste.
At the end of this month, we’ll also commemorate the “Person of the Year Award” for the Montgomery County person who was responsible in 2017 for the most positive change for our community and the “Mad Cow Award” for the worst elected official in Montgomery County during 2017. If you have suggestions, please send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. We will treat your suggestion in confidence.
To begin the Power Top Ten this year, The Golden Hammer has already named:
#2 United States Congressman Kevin Brady
#3 District Attorney Brett Ligon
#4 Texas Patriots Tea Party PAC President Dr. Julie Turner
#5 Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador
#6 Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack
#7 Conroe Independent School District Superintendent Don Stockton
#8 Sheriff Rand Henderson
#9 418th District Judge Tracy Gilbert
#10 State Senator Brandon Creighton.
There are five Runners-Up to the Power Top Ten as well: State Representative Mark Keough who is running for Montgomery County Judge, community and political activist Steve Toth who is running for State Representative, Montgomery County Auditor Phyllis Martin, Woodlands Township Chairman Gordy Bunch, and Precinct 4 Constable Kenneth “Rowdy” Hayden.
Examples of citizen power
The following are mere examples. Every reader of The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper could be another example.
The most decisive action the Montgomery County Commissioners Court took during 2017 was passage of the 20% homestead exemption. Doyal, Riley, and Precinct 1 County Commissioner Meador opposed the concept. One citizen leader, a public “official” in her own right, made the real difference in passage of this important form of taxpayer relief: Kelli Cook.
Cook, who is the Montgomery County Coordinator for the Campaign for Liberty and a conservative political activist, researched the homestead exemption and began to build an ad hoc coalition of citizens who emailed, telephoned, wrote, and directly spoke in citizen comments to the members of the Commissioners Court who would listen about the failure of Montgomery County to provide the homestead exemption permitted under the Texas Tax Code. Eventually, Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack and Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark agreed to bring the proposal before the Commissioners Court.
Of course, Doyal strenuously opposed the proposal which would allow taxpayers to keep more of their own money and not give it to the County government. Riley usually just follows Doyal, so he voted with Doyal. Meador regularly votes any proposals that reduce spending or taxation.
Cook and her team of citizens continued to argue for the exemption until eventually the weak Riley recognized that his constituents wanted the exemption more than Doyal opposed it.
The 20% homestead exemption was not an accomplishment of the haughty elected official caste. Cook and other citizens got the job done.
Paul Crowson, who lives in the Allendale-Greenbough subdivision off F.M. 1314 near SH 242, is an unlikely activist. He’s a full-time emergency room nurse who works long, dedicated hours, and spends the remainder of his free time enjoying his children and grandchildren and doing home improvement projects. Crowson is soft-spoken and clearly does not relish speaking in public in front of other people.
The drainage problems, which a commercial gun range next to his subdivision created, pushed Crowson well beyond his limit of being a quiet citizen. When it rains, Allendale-Greenbough has flooding. When it rains substantially, Crowson and his neighbors experience frighteningly high waters moving towards their homes and sometimes directly into them.
Two years ago, Crowson began to speak to County officials and a local news blog with no success. During 2017, however, Crowson intensified his lobbying. Crowson spoke with Precint 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark, the Texas Department of Transportation, other County officials, other state officials, and his State Senator and State Representative. Crowson has begun to appear in the Commissioners Court regularly.
On November 28, 2017, a lively crowd of Precinct 4 residents, mostly from the Allendale neighborhood and from River Oaks Drive, expressed enormous gratitude and excitement when Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark announced that, with the assistance of Montgomery County Community Development Director Dr. Joanne Ducharme, he has located $3 million of federal community development grant funds for drainage and flood mitigation capital improvements. Clark and Ducharme conducted a formal public hearing on the proposed grants during the evening of Tuesday, November 28, 2017, at the Lone Star Convention Center.
$1.2 million of flood mitigation grant funds will go to the River Oaks Drive capital improvements, while $1.8 million of the funds will go to the Allendale-Greenbough neighborhood.
During the public hearing, Crowson briefly asked Clark and Ducharme some questions. It was apparent that the citizens in the room looked to Crowson for leadership.
It is apparent that Crowson is the very loud squeaky wheel that spurred Clark to get the flood mitigation funds. Crowson mobilized his neighbors into an effective political group. If the County, through Clark’s work, procures the federal grant funds, in addition to Clark, the citizens of East Montgomery County should thank citizen Crowson.
Ginger Russell, also known as the Quiet Lady from Magnolia
When the drug dealers, convicted thieves, and ex-federal prison cons who work closely for corrupt local political boss Marc Davenport express their wrath at citizen-reformers, one of their favorites to criticize is Ginger Russell. Russell is a fierce advocate on certain issues, particularly education and tollroads, and has become a lightning rod for reform efforts in general, especially in the Magnolia area where she lives.
Living and working in this community for a long time, Russell has developed a gigantic coalition of citizens supporters. Members of the political “establishment,” such as the Stuckeys, the Conleys, and the Rileys, are so frustrated by the degree to which Russell has exposed their wrongdoing that they’ve joined Davenport and his band of felons in name-calling, threats, and adolescent behavior.
Russell along with Cook caught Riley red-handed using County property for personal and political campaign purposes. It’s not just trailers and school facilities. Riley – and Doyal as Precinct 2 County Commissioner before him – have made the use of public property, equipment, and employees for themselves into a common practice. Riley runs over the Magnolia Independent School District like its Czechoslovakia October, 1938. With the help of Precinct 5 Constable David Hill, Riley has turned his law enforcement office into an adjunct of the Riley campaign headquarters.
Russell has exposed major portions of Riley’s corruption. She’s also called the commissioner out for his deceit on the Tx-249 Tollway. Riley can’t keep his story straight, as he’s not as smooth a liar as County Judge Doyal. In one meeting, Riley claimed he supported allowing citizens to vote on the tollroad. Then he recanted. In one meeting, Riley claimed the County Attorney’s Office advised the Commissioners Court on an issue. Then he recanted. It’s a pretty rare instance where Riley will actually engage a citizen on any issue, because he’s usually confused when he has to speak in public.
Russell has challenged Riley and brought his confusion to the light. Her influence grows steadily as citizens recognize her kindheartedness and compassion and her genuine care for children in the public education system and all citizens who face the high taxes local governments are perpetrating in Montgomery County.
Reagan William Reed
Reagan William Reed, the youngest elected Republican Precinct Chairman in Texas, hails from the Willis area and, although only 21, is one of the most influential activists in the Montgomery County Republican Party. Reed works as a Correspondent for Empower Texans, the statewide grassroots conservative organization based in the Dallas area. He’s finishing up his college degree as well.
Reed has made a striking impact on Montgomery County politics. He’s a genuine parliamentary law expert who has overwhelmed County GOP Chairman Wally Wilkerson with his procedural knowledge. When Wilkerson tried to shut down consideration of the resolution calling for placing Proposition 2 (concerning tollroads) on the statewide ballot, Reed took away control of the meeting from Wilkerson in a few well-placed chess moves. Thanks to Reed’s excellent work on August 15, 2017, in the GOP Executive Committee meeting, and his work with Paul and Diana Gebolys at the December 1, 2017, State Republican Executive Committee meeting in Austin, Texas Republican voters will have the opportunity to vote for Proposition 2 (“No governmental entity should ever construct or fund construction of toll roads without voter approval.“)
The Montgomery County GOP Executive Committee voted decisively to endorse a proposal to cut significantly County spending overall, to adopt a 20% homestead exemption for County property taxes, and to increase funding for the law enforcement departments within the County government. Republican Precinct 50 Chairman Reagan Reed, elected to the Republican Executive Committee in the 2016 Republican Primary Election, authored and proposed the resolution at the meeting Tuesday night. The resolution passed by a decisive margin of 21 to 10.
The Republican Executive Committee vote placed enormous pressure on Riley to change his mind and vote for the homestead exemption. Unfortunately, the Republican vote came too far in advance of the County’s budget process, because by July, 2017, Riley had already forgotten about events so distant (4 months) in the past.
Reed’s articles in Empower Texans’ online magazine have made an enormous impact on public opinion and education of voters. He leads several campaigns every election cycle. Reed is already having an enormous influence on Montgomery County public opinion and the manner in which public servants behave.
Reed, Russell, Crowson, and Cook are just examples of the impact that individual citizens have begun to have on important decisions in local governmental entities in the Montgomery County community. There are potentially 562,000 other wonderful people who can have an impact.
There’s no question that citizen involvement has grown enormously. The look and feel of Commissioners Court meetings, as an example, has changed substantially. It’s not that the Commissioners Court members are out of control. More importantly, what’s happening is the citizens are regaining control of their government (despite the protests of Craig Doyal and his “establishment” ilk).
Citizen vigilance, discussion, and activism is beginning to have a major impact, as the citizens begin to take back their government from an arrogant and elitist clique.