Image: Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley’s mailer that he sent during the last week of the May 22 Republican Runoff Election (2018). When the arrogant, yet ignorant, Riley speaks, he’s lying.
Conroe, July 26 – An arrogant elected servant is bad. An arrogant and ignorant elected servant is terrible. Arrogant and ignorant Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley leapt forward with his plans to construct the Woodlands Parkway Extension during the July 9, 2019, Commissioners Court meeting.
The plan, according to insiders of Riley’s office and the Texas Department of Transportation who spoke with The Golden Hammer on the condition of anonymity, is to construct the entire Woodlands Parkway Extension from TX 249 eastward to approximately one-third of a mile from F.M. 2978’s intersection with Woodlands Parkway. At that point, Riley will move the road southward to intersect at Mansions Way. Nevertheless, Riley, The Woodlands Development Company, developer Tim Weems, and the Westwood Magnolia Parkway Improvement District (WiMP) have already procured the engineering plans from Brown and Gay Engineers to complete the connection to Woodlands Parkway within a couple of years.
Sadly, there was a lot more than went wrong for the citizens of Montgomery County during the July 9 disaster.
“I have no discussion. I’m just opposed,” said Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner James Noack, on Tuesday, July 9, as he and County Judge Mark Keough, “The People’s Judge,” voted as a minority against the Woodlands Parkway Extension, the plan of Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley and disgraced former County Judge Craig Doyal to extend a road between the TX 249 Tollway and F.M. 2978 at or near Woodlands Parkway in order to carry traffic to Riley’s and Doyal’s beloved tollroad also known as the “Decimation of Hope Highway.” The only winners in the Commissioners Court vote to proceed with the construction of a road from Mansions Way to what is now called “Woodbranch Boulevard” are Riley’s only real constituents, real estate developers, who have pushed for construction of the road which will connect F.M. 2978 and the TX 249 toll monstrosity.
The traffic and revenue study supporting the TX 249 Tollway assumed that Riley would construct the Woodlands Parkway Extension (WPX), but voters in Commissioners Precinct 3 and Commissioner Precinct 2 rejected the project in the May, 2015, road bond referendum.
At the urging of developers Tim Weems, The Woodlands Development Company, and Westwood Magnolia Parkway Improvement District, Riley is proceeding with the WPX despite overwhelming opposition to it and despite his May, 2018, campaign promise during the Republican Runoff Election that he would never build the road.
Impact for incorporation of The Woodlands
In many ways, Riley’s construction of the Woodbranch Extension coming eastward from TX 249 to approximately one-third of a mile west of F.M. 2978 and then jutting southward to Mansions Way may very well necessitate incorporation of The Woodlands Township in order to prevent the extension of the so-called Woodbranch Extension, which is really just WPX, to connect to Woodlands Parkway.
If the Woodlands Township were to incorporate as a city before construction of the short connection of WPX to the intersection of F.M. 2978 and Woodlands Parkway, the new city of The Woodlands would be able to prevent construction of the road, which would lie within the boundary of the city, according to Woodlands Township Chairman Gordy Bunch and others.
Riley’s rogue action, which the vast majority of his true constituents disfavor, may become the driving force behind incorporation of The Woodlands.
Woodlands Township Chairman Bunch explained, “Our board has agreed the earliest would be November 2020 [for an incorporation referendum] and, if it is not held then, we would push to November 2022. We are essentially recommending an election of this impact should only be held during a high voter turnout election date. Incorporation is immediately effective upon passing with Township board being interim city council. An election would be held the following May to elect mayor and city council. The home rule charter committee would be appointed to begin writing the home rule charter that will require voter approval. The new city will operate as a general law city until a home rule charter has been approved by voters.”
Meanwhile, Riley is likely to create monster traffic jams on F.M. 2978 between Woodlands Parkway and Mansions Way. I
Don’t think for a second that Riley doesn’t intend to build the Woodlands Parkway Extension (WPX) eventually in order to bring traffic to his beloved TX 249 Tollway, also known as the Decimation of Hope Highway. The 2014 Traffic and Revenue Study to support construction of the TX 249 Tollway, which Riley forced on Montgomery County citizens as a tollroad, even though the Texas Department of Transportation had made clear they’d build the road as a freeway instead, made clear that bringing traffic from The Woodlands over a WPX was a critical assumption to support the revenue projections for the bonds for the TX 249 Tollway.
Voter rejection of the May, 2015, bond referendum, which included Riley’s WPX project, got in the way. Nevertheless, Riley, who is a member of the Houston-Galveston Area Councils’ (HGAC) Transportation Policy Council, made sure that HGAC continued to include WPX as part of its Major Thoroughfare Plan in 2016 after voters had rejected WPX. Of course, Riley lied to voters during the March 2018 Republican Primary Runoff that he has no intention of building WPX, but his insistence upon keeping WPX on the HGAC Major Thoroughfare Plan revealed Riley’s true intention to build WPX whether voters wanted it or not, just as Riley didn’t care of Montgomery County citizens wanted the TX 249 Tollway either.
Riley has clearly always treated real estate developer Rick Shelton, engineering firm Halff Associates, and approximately half a dozen County government vendors as the only constituents with whom he’ll have frank discussions. Riley carefully hides from communication with prying citizens who seek to communicate with him directly.
On January 23, 2018, a moderator at a candidate forum asked Riley, “Do you believe the Woodlands Parkway Extension should be removed from the [HGAC] major thoroughfare plan?” Riley’s answer to the question about WPX was quite illuminating:
“No, I don’t believe it [WPX or Woodtrace Boulevard] should be removed from the Thoroughfare Plan, because the developers on the west side need it. It needs to stay on there!”
In other words, Riley still supports WPX because some real estate developers “need it” even though the voters in his own Commissioners Precinct 2 (Magnolia and surrounding areas) and Commissioners Precinct 3 (The Woodlands) staunchly rejected WPX.
Riley placed the Woodlands Parkway Extension item on the secretive “consent” agenda for the July 9, 2019, Montgomery County Commissioners Court meeting through his plan to spend $135,279.80 to acquire property to connect “Woodtrace Boulevard” to FM 2978 at Mansions Way, approximately one-quarter mile south of where Woodlands Parkway intersects with FM 2978. The drawings for the westward Mansions Way extension show that it connects with Riley’s proposed Woodtrace Boulevard heading northwest approximately less than one-third of a mile from FM 2978. If one looks at Riley’s Major Thoroughfare Plan drawing immediately above, where Mansions Way connects with Woodtrace Boulevard, also known as the Woodlands Parkway Extension, is before the second purple dot as one moves west on the map from FM 2978.The Woodtrace Boulevard/Woodlands Parkway Extension road will extend from TX 249, as shown on the HGAC Major Thoroughfare Plan map, heading eastward until it hits Mansions Way. Traffic will then cut slightly southward to connect to FM 2978.The impact will primarily be that traffic heading west on Woodlands Parkway will cut left heading south on FM 2978 before turning onto the short Mansions Way triangle connecting traffic with Woodtrace Boulevard, while traffic hearing east towards Woodlands Parkway will have to cut right heading north on FM 2978 before turning onto the current footprint of Woodlands Parkway.Real estate developer Tim Weems was downright giddy in the Commissioners Courtroom after his beloved WPX sailed through the Commissioners Court on a 3 to 2 vote.
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 March 26 meeting. 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, June 25, 2019, 9:30 a.m. All Court members were physically present. Only two members – Keough and Noack – brought their morality with them.
Vote #1 – Riley placed the vote on the $135,279.80 purchase of right-of-way for the Woodlands Parkway Extension on the consent agenda. After voters soundly rejected the entire project, especially voters in Riley’s Precinct 2 and in Precinct 3 (mostly The Woodlands), Riley should have given the project up, except for the fact that his real constituents are real estate developers and engineers who line Riley’s pockets rather than the citizens who have elected him. Riley gets a 1,000 point deduction for the arrogance of his move at all. That he put it on the consent agenda earns Riley an additional 500 point deduction. That Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough allowed Riley to place the item on the super-secret consent agenda earns Keough a 250 point deduction. It was a major vote. 100 points. It passed three (Riley, Metts, Meador) to two (Noack, Keough). “No” vote appropriate. Noack gets a 500 point bonus for having the courage to move the item off the consent agenda to the open meeting.
Veterans Memorial Commission
Liberal democrat County Judge Jimmie Edwards bored the Commissioners Court for more than 22 minutes about the Veterans Memorial Commission. Why wasn’t he restricted to 3 minutes like every other citizen?!
Are electeds really that protective of each other?
Budget, Purchasing and Spending
Budget Director Amanda Carter presented a horror of a budget. Not only does her proposed budget actual raise taxes – and spending – but Carter took it upon herself to propose an across-the-board 1.92% raise to every Montgomery County government employee. Carter clearly did absolutely nothing to conduct anything close to zero-based budgeting. Rather, Carter merely exercised bureaucratic fiat by granting and denying various departmental budget requests in secret meetings she conducted with every County Department.
Rather than bringing transparency to the budget process, Carter has imposed secrecy in his proposed budget of more than $366 million, which raises spending by more than $22 million from the current year.
Ignorant yet arrogant Riley commented at the end of Carter’s presentation, “Great job! I don’t think we’ll get by without an increase in personnel” in the already massively-bloated Montgomery County government. Of course, Riley wouldn’t know, since he hides in his Precinct Office (on those rare occasions he shows up for work). Riley gets another 500 point deduction for more stupidity.
Vote #2 – The Commissioners Court voted to approve a new Purchasing Manual for the County government without looking at it. It was not available to the Commissioners Court or the public prior to the vote. Major vote. 25 points. Passed unanimously. A “no” vote was appropriate.
Votes #3 to 15 – The Commissioners Court approved over $2.3 million of purchasing items without review. Each item was 10 points. A “no” vote was appropriate. Passed unanimously.
Vote #16 – The Commissioners Court blindly approved acceptance of a 5.3% increase in the changes of RC Smith & Company for road maintenance services. Only Commissioner Noack voted against the proposal, which passed four to one. 25 points. “No” vote appropriate.
Vote #17 – The Commissioners Court simply should not ever pass budget amendments without follow the notice and hearing procedures required under the Texas Local Government Code. Nevertheless, the Commissioners Court voted to approve eighteen (18) budget amendments without any review, discussion, or consideration. “No” vote appropriate. Major vote. 25 points.
Vote #18 – They spent $6,735,714.06 without any investigation, oversight, or discussion. Major vote 25 points. “No” vote appropriate. Passed unanimously.
Child Welfare Board
Vote #19 – Only one member of the Commissioners Court was even the least bit prepared to receive the resignation of the entire Child Welfare Board after the Terri Jaggers orphan money theft scandal shamed the entire Board into resigning. That member was none other than County Judge Keough, the “People’s Judge,” who recommended four outstanding pro-children citizens (rather than politicos) to serve as the nucleus for a new Child Welfare Board. The four were Sue Watkins, Elizabeth Chappell, Kyle Kackey, and Matthew Burton. 10 points. “Yes” vote appropriate. Passed unanimously. Keough gets a 250 point bonus for taking care of business.
Vote #20 – The Commissioners Court voted to authorized Montgomery County Attorney B.D. Griffin to file suit against Jaggers, her husband, adoption attorney Pat Jaggers, and others to recover stolen funds. Major vote. 25 points. “Yes” vote appropriate. Passed unanimously. Meador and Riley should have recused themselves from the vote and from the executive session on the issue, because they are potential targets for the lawsuit, as they promoted Jaggers mightily and enabled her theft through fundraising. Meador and Riley each receive 500 point deductions.
Vote #21 – Payroll change requests. No discussion, no deliberation, no analysis. “No” vote appropriate. 5 points. Passed unanimously.
Ratings for Commissioners Court meeting, July 9, 2019:
KEOUGH 135/370. Grade F.
MEADOR -465/370. Grade F.
RILEY -1965/370. Grade F.
NOACK 660/370. Grade A+.
METTS 35/370. Grade F.
The following are the cumulative scores for Fiscal Year 2019, which began October 1, 2018.
KEOUGH 4,918/4,476. Grade A+.
MEADOR -1,207/4,788. Grade F.
RILEY -4,117/4,788. Grade F.
NOACK 3,213/4,788. Grade D+.
METTS -142/4,476. Grade F.
The citizens must remain vigilant.