Conroe, May 21 – Tomorrow’s meeting of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court is analogous to the tragically-sad “We Are Seven” grave at Conwy Parish Cemetery in North Wales, adjacent to the St. Mary and All Saints Church. The “We Are Seven” grave represents the loss of hope when children die. It’s believed that seven children are in one grave, are siblings, and were buried there some time in the mid-13th century. After King Edward I “Longshanks” succeeded in his conquest of Wales in 1283, the cruel king built Conwy Castle largely as a monument to himself.
That sad story is somewhat analogous to the events in Montgomery County, Texas, at the present time. The County government suffers from a cruel and dictatorial lame duck County Judge, Craig “Foghorn” Doyal, whom the voters decisively rejected for re-election in the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election. Doyal and his cohort Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, who faces a stiff challenge from noted conservative author and former Comal County Commissioner Gregory Park in the May 22 Republican Runoff Election. The other runoff is between reformer Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark and Davenport Ring member James Metts.
On the “We Are Seven” grave are seven crosses for each of the buried children. Readers of this newspaper are well aware that this newspaper refers to the $107 million, 3 mile, TX 249 Tollway as the “Decimation of Hope Highway.” When government takes money from hardworking families through taxes, they take away freedom. When government squanders that money on expenditures such as high Commissioners Court salaries, plus bureaucrat salaries, tollways, or public relations advisors on the County payroll, the theft of the citizens’ freedom is all the more acute.
While none of these expenditures come close to the gravity of the death of a child, Doyal, Riley, Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador, Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack, and Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark should understand that each expenditure represents a loss of freedom and hope in an incremental manner from the citizens of Montgomery County. On January 1, 2019, Doyal will, perhaps, come to understand that concept when he – in his elitist mind – descends to the level of the plebeian citizens.
Here are the “We Are Seven” grave items facing the citizens of Montgomery County in the May 22, 2018, Commissioners Court meeting. Please understand that there are actually far more but these items are some of the important ones.
Grave Item #1: Graves Humphries Payment of $27,923.72
Largely as a result of the corrupt influence of JP James Metts and his political boss Marc Davenport, the Commissioners Court will squander $27,923.72 in payment to Graves Humphries law firm for alleged collection of JP court fees and fines. It’s a scam. The law firm does nothing but send a letter to each person convicted of a misdemeanor in the four of the five JP courts which use their alleged services. In actuality, as the statistics of the Texas Office of Court Administration reveal, the only means by which JP courts 1, 2, 4, and 5 actually collect those fees and fines is through issuances of warrants and requiring that people pay those warrants when they seek to renew their drivers licenses with the Texas Department of Public Safety. The County government pays separately for the Omnibase computer service which ties those fees and fine warrants to the Department of Public Safety database.
In actuality, as the much higher collections of JP3 (Judge Edie Connelly) reveal, the County is losing more than $880,000 per year is uncollected fees and fines that Judge Connelly is able to collect by not issuing warrants at all and by utilizing the services of the County government’s in-house collections group.
The payment to Graves Humphries is a total loss of $27,923.72 in funds, because they don’t do anything.
Who’s to blame? Metts, Doyal, Riley, and any other member of Commissioners Court who votes for the secretive “consent” agenda.
Grave Item #2: TX 249 Tollway Payment to Engineers of $30,551.69
General revenue fund tax dollars are flying out the door in the amount of $30,551.69 in payments to three engineering firms that are political cronies of Riley and Doyal for the $107 million, 3 mile, TX 249 Tollway.
Once again, it’s part of the super secretive “consent agenda.” The approval of these payments are another example of how members of the Commissioners Court don’t really pay attention to how they vote.
Grave Item #3: Payment of accounts – totally unchecked, unaudited – $11,843,321.66
As the article on County spending appearing in today’s newspaper reflects, the County Auditor is way behind in her bookkeeping. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that no one checks the 109 pages of bills that the County Auditor, Phyllis Martin, has placed before the noses of the Commissioners Court to approve.
The total payments are $11,843,321.66, which sounds like a lot of money. It’s part of the job of Riley, Doyal, and the other Commissioners Court members to examine these accounts closely and have a good understanding of where the citizens’ money goes. Instead, they’re genuinely clueless.
Really. Ask one of them a question about something you found on “Payment of Accounts” backup material. None of them will be able to answer your questions. In 2016, the Publisher of The Golden Hammer met with Doyal and his “chief of staff” jim fredricks and asked them what the approximately $30 million per year payment for “internal service funds” is within the County government’s Budget. They were clueless and actually had to call the County Auditor in the meeting to ask her.
How does it make you feel as a citizen that your County Judge and his “chief of staff” don’t even know the meaning of the words which comprise a full ten percent (10%) of the entire County government budget?
Grave Item #4: Irresponsible Budget amendments in the millions of dollars
The Commissioners Court will approve millions of dollars in so-called Budget amendments on an “emergency” basis due to a “grave public necessity.” Of course, none of the members of the Commissioners Court have a clue what they’re voting to approve. Here’s the full list of the County Departments that are experiencing a “grave public necessity” and “emergency” (so they can pass Budget Amendments without having to allow the public to have a public hearing):
These Budget Amendments are a relict of the haphazard fashion in which Riley and Doyal have rushed the budget process while they’ve been in office. As a result, they approve a Budget which is a complete mess.
Grave Item #5: Tax Assessor-Collector $590,000 Purchase of Security Items and Devices
Montgomery County Tax Assessor-Collector Tammy McRae is spending $590,000 from the County’s general fund for the purchase of security items and devices. It will be interesting to hear her explanation for this massive expenditure.
Grave Item #6: What private employer matches retirement contributions like that?!
The Commissioners Court will consider the funding for the County’s ultraliberal retirement plan in which the County government matches employee contributions 250%. In other words, for every dollar an employee invests into the County’s retirement plan, the County matches that investment 2.5 times. That’s insane. Almost none of the Fortune 500 companies in the United States match even 100% for employee retirement plans. The average match for retirement investments in the private sector is 31%, according to Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management.
Grave Item #7: Secret hiring of Timothy Stewart as Building Maintenance Director
After failing to advertise the position outside of a County job posting, because they clearly don’t want more qualified applicants to apply for the important position of Building Maintenance Department Director, the Commissioners Court will go through the motions – in secret, of course – to interview and consider who to hire as the next Director of the Building Maintenance Department.
After the considerable effort to make the deliberations look real, the Commissioners Court will vote to hire Timothy Stewart as the politically expedient Director of the Building Maintenance Department. As a nepotistic hire himself (his wife is a County Department Director who works for Noack), Stewart will surely protect all of the nepotistic employees inside of the Building Maintenance Department. It’s a decision to place politics over merit.
The “We Are Seven” grave inspired William Wordsworth to write his poem entitled “We Are Seven” in 1798:
A Simple Child,
That lightly draws its breath,
And feels its life in every limb,
What should it know of death?
I met a little cottage Girl:
She was eight years old, she said;
Her hair was thick with many a curl
That clustered round her head.
She had a rustic, woodland air,
And she was wildly clad:
Her eyes were fair, and very fair;
Her beauty made me glad.
“Sisters and brothers, little Maid,
How many may you be?”
“How many? Seven in all,” she said
And wondering looked at me.
“And where are they? I pray you tell.”
She answered, “Seven are we;
And two of us at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea.
“Two of us in the church-yard lie,
My sister and my brother;
And, in the church-yard cottage, I
Dwell near them with my mother.”
“You say that two at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea,
Yet ye are seven!–I pray you tell,
Sweet Maid, how this may be.”
Then did the little Maid reply,
“Seven boys and girls are we;
Two of us in the church-yard lie,
Beneath the church-yard tree.”
“You run about, my little Maid,
Your limbs they are alive;
If two are in the church-yard laid,
Then ye are only five.”
“Their graves are green, they may be seen,”
The little Maid replied,
“Twelve steps or more from my mother’s door,
And they are side by side.
“My stockings there I often knit,
My kerchief there I hem;
And there upon the ground I sit,
And sing a song to them.
“And often after sunset, Sir,
When it is light and fair,
I take my little porringer,
And eat my supper there.
“The first that died was sister Jane;
In bed she moaning lay,
Till God released her of her pain;
And then she went away.
“So in the church-yard she was laid;
And, when the grass was dry,
Together round her grave we played,
My brother John and I.
“And when the ground was white with snow,
And I could run and slide,
My brother John was forced to go,
And he lies by her side.”
“How many are you, then,” said I,
“If they two are in heaven?”
Quick was the little Maid’s reply,
“O Master! we are seven.”
“But they are dead; those two are dead!
Their spirits are in heaven!”
‘Twas throwing words away; for still
The little Maid would have her will,
And said, “Nay, we are seven!”