Roadblocks – good and bad – arise during April 10 Montgomery County Commissioners Court meeting

Roadblocks – good and bad – arise during April 10 Montgomery County Commissioners Court meeting

Image: A very somber Precinct 4 Montgomery County Commissioner Jim Clark arrived early for the April 10, 2018, Commissioners Court meeting. “We have some very troubling items on the agenda this time. I’m here to do battle for the people,” Clark told The Golden Hammer as he arrived.

Conroe, April 17 – The Montgomery County Commissioners Court’s meeting on April 10 faced some roadblocks, one good and one bad. The good roadblock was the two-week delay in approval of a construction contract for the $76 to $85 million, 3 mile, TX 249 Tollway, also known as the Decimation of Hope Highway. That roadblock occurred when County Attorney J.D. Lambright, Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark, and Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack objected to whether Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley’s and County Judge Craig Doyal’s proposal to take another $5 million for the County’s general revenue fund for the exorbitantly-priced road project, which the Texas Department of Transportation has made clear they’d build as a free road instead, violated the required notice provisions of the Texas Open Meetings Act, the statute under which Riley and Doyal are already criminally indicted.

The bad roadblock resulted from Budget Office Director Amanda Carter’s “budget packet” which the Commissioners Court unanimously approved. Under Carter’s plan, citizens will have little effective opportunity to participate in the County government’s budget process.

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, April 10, 2018, 9:30 a.m. All Court members were physically present.

Agenda Item 9A1: Payment of Accounts. The Commissioners Court spent $16,271,691.50 in funds that are totally unaccounted for and have no backup whatsoever. The Commissioners Court paid $42,351.78 of general revenue funds for the TX 249 Tollway, also known as the Decimation of Hope Highway.

The payments included over $900,000 of unaccounted-for credit card charges on the County’s Citibank credit card. There was no discussion, no deliberation, and no investigation. 25 points. A proper vote would be “No.”

DOYAL Yes

MEADOR Yes

RILEY Yes

NOACK Yes

CLARK Yes.

Agenda Item 9A2: Despite promising that NetData, the failed court database that JPs James Metts and Wayne Mack have forced on four of the five JP courts, thereby costing taxpayers over $880,000 per year in lost collections, was free, Mack insisted that the taxpayers now start paying government dollars to the NetData providers. The program was supposed to be free as an incentive for the County government to use the terrible collection services of Graves Humphries Stahl, an outside law firm that is doing nothing to collect fees and fines for the courts.

Now to add to the injury of the massive revenue losses from using the terrible collection system, Montgomery County citizens must bear the insult that they must pay over $4,000 for software that will help the failed NetData system operate more efficiently. Major vote. 25 point. “No” vote was the only appropriate vote.

DOYAL Yes

MEADOR Yes

RILEY Yes

NOACK Yes

CLARK Yes.

Agenda Item 9A4: Budget Amendments, because the Commissioners Court failed to do it the right way the first time. Under the Texas Local Government Code, the Commissioners Court should adopt its budget with due care after public hearings to allow citizen participation. The citizens have followed the budget, while the members of the Commissioners Court, especially Doyal and Riley, have slept. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the Commissioners Court must continuously amend the budget on an “emergency” basis, in violation of the public hearing requirements of Texas law, because they failed to pass a proper budget at the inception. There were over $3 million of budget amendments which will receive no oversight or discussion from the freespending Commissioners Court. Meador pulled $250,000 out of his “slush fund” for an unaccounted for “bridge repair.”

Major vote. 25 points. A “no” vote is appropriate.

DOYAL Yes

MEADOR Yes

RILEY Yes

NOACK Yes

CLARK Yes.

 

Agenda Item 9D: The Commissioners Court approved purchasing decisions covering a completely unknown amount of purchases from 8 vendors for unidentified Departments. For all we know, they spent $100,000,000 in one vote. The citizens seem to know just as much as the Commissioners Court, because the four Commissioners and County Judge vote blindly. Major vote. 25 points. “No” vote appropriate.

DOYAL Yes

MEADOR Yes

RILEY Yes

NOACK Yes

CLARK Yes.

Agenda Item 9G: Payroll changes without any backup document whatsoever. As far as we know, the Commissioners Court just gave a million dollars of pay raises. It is totally irresponsible for the Commissioners Court to vote for this item without any knowledge of what’s in it. Major vote. 25 points. “No” vote appropriate.

 

DOYAL Yes

MEADOR Yes

RILEY Yes

NOACK Yes

CLARK Yes.

Agenda Item 9P: The Annual Report for the Memorial Library System was tucked away under the super-secretive “consent” agenda for a good reason. The report, required under Texas law, reveals the numerous failures of the County library system.

First, they spend only $1.2 million on books, while $7.7 goes for the bloated salaries.

Second, unlike many County library systems that operate in conjunction with school district libraries – and save millions of dollars by doing so – Montgomery County’s library bureaucracy will have none of that. Therefore, the taxpayers literally waste $9 million per year on a library system that largely duplicates the libraries of the school districts in Montgomery County.

Third, there were only 1,075,466 visitors into the library but 872,716 transactions involving children’s materials. Clearly, the libraries are children’s libraries that duplicate school district libraries. If someone were to need a real research library, they’d visit Sam Houston State University or the University of Houston.

Fourth, the total circulation of the library was 2,192,792, which means taxpayers took it on the chin to the tune of $4.50 for every single item in circulation. That’s ridiculously expensive.

Clearly, it’s time to stop duplicating school district libraries and reduce this government waste.

A “no” vote was appropriate. 5 points.

DOYAL Yes

MEADOR Yes

RILEY Yes

NOACK Yes

CLARK Yes.

Agenda Item 11A: Approve an advanced funding agreement between Montgomery County and TxDOT for Doyal’s and Riley’s beloved TX 249 Tollway, which they begged TxDOT to build as a tollroad as opposed to a free one. Major vote. 25 points. “No” vote is appropriate. What is interesting about this agenda item is that several people signed up to speak about the tollroad. Doyal would not permit them to speak before consideration of this agenda item.

DOYAL Yes

MEADOR Yes

RILEY Yes

NOACK No

CLARK No.

Agenda Item 15: Approval external assessment of the County Auditor for $30,000. That is $30,000 well spent, as District Judge Jennifer Robin so articulately explained. “Yes” vote is appropriate. Major vote. 25 points.

DOYAL Yes

MEADOR Yes

RILEY Yes

NOACK Yes

CLARK Yes.

Tollroad Discussion. Elizabeth Kepworth, Ginger Russell, Tommy Gage, Krissy Grimm, Jabba, Kelli Cook, Linda Stuckey, David Hill, Jo Rudely, Karen Smith, and Bill O’Sullivan made citizen comments about the tollroad.

Doyal’s tollroad lawyer and financial advisors botched a presentation where they informed the taxpayers that they intended to plunder $5 million more from taxpayer funds in addition to the $13 million they’ve already taken. Why? So that they can enter into a construction project with SpawGlass Construction supposedly to begin construction on the tollroad immediately, even though it will require several months to sell revenue bonds for the unpopular project.

It’s a scheme to try to cut off the ability of citizens to submit a petition that would then require a voter referendum on the issuance of the revenue bonds. As Doyal’s tollroad lawyer Rich Muller admitted in April, 2017, Doyal, Riley, and Muller know very good and well that the tollroad project would fail at the ballot box. Therefore, they’ve got to manipulate the Texas Transportation Code and the Texas Local Government Code to try to prevent any possibility of a citizen referendum.

County Attorney JD Lambright, Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark, and Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack fought valiantly against the proposal and called out Muller, Doyal, and Riley that they had failed to put the $5 million expenditure on the agenda for the meeting. That move gave the Senator Brandon Creighton, Clark, and Noack another two weeks to try to convince TxDOT to take the unpopular tollroad project back from the County and build the 3-mile section of road as a free road.

Clark and Noack each receive 250 point bonuses for their outstanding work.

Commissioners Court ratings for April 10, 2018, meeting:

DOYAL 25/180. Grade F.

MEADOR 25/180. Grade F.

RILEY 25/180. Grade F.

NOACK 300/180. Grade A+.

CLARK 300/180. Grade A+.

The following are the cumulative scores for Fiscal Year 2018, which began October 1, 2017.

DOYAL -835/2,449. Grade F.

MEADOR 10/2,449. Grade F.

RILEY 10/2,449. Grade F.

NOACK 1,401/2,449. Grade F.

CLARK 1,910/2,449. Grade C+.

The citizens must remain vigilant.

 

 

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