Conroe, May 8 – Seven classic horrors and a cruel joke (i.e., it’s not funny at all and really just quite cruel and self-serving) will descend upon the citizens of Montgomery County during the May 8 Commissioners Court meeting. Very seriously, this meeting will not be in the least bit funny. It’s an example of elitist, mean-spirited individuals who wield power and have no public spirit whatsoever in their actions or their beliefs.
Cruelty (not nearly as entertaining as “Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy”)
Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley will vote to end his political career by backing the TX 249 Tollway. The total cost of this monstrous project, all of 3 miles long, will be $107 million. That’s just under $36 million per mile for a road the necessity of which is entirely unclear. With that expenditure, Riley could have widened F.M. 1488, widened F.M. 2978, widened Hardin Store Road, widened the entire length of Fish Creek Parkway/McCaleb Road from F.M. 1488 to State Highway 105, and completed all of the Precinct 2 bond projects, with several million dollars left over to provide drainage mitigation and flood control throughout Commissioners Precinct 2. Instead, Riley chose to funnel $107 million into the hands of Halff Associates, Inc., Jones & Carter engineers, and other engineering firms and contractors, all from outside of Montgomery County, who were the primary contributors to Riley’s criminal legal defense (for his pending criminal indictment) and to his political campaigns.
Lame duck Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and sleepy Precinct 1 Montgomery County Commissioner Mike Meador will join Riley to vote for the issuance of $95 million in bonds and to let a $56 million contract with SpawGlass Construction. For the hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to him in unnecessary legal fees, Sugar Land attorney Rich Muller will do anything and say anything just so that Doyal and Riley can pretend they have some basis for flushing the citizens down the drain with this project.
If a TX 249 extension is necessary, it should be a free road. Drivers avoid tollroads, just like the traffic congestion this community observes along the Interstate 45 frontage road northbound where drivers avoid the SH 242 tolled flyover and on SH 242 westbound where drivers avoid the SH 242 tolled flyover. TX 249 is about to become a nightmare for the business owners along that road. After the Tollway completion comes, the true nightmare will continue for decades.
If tens of thousands of drivers don’t have a reason to pay tolls to travel to Todd Mission, Texas, then, as financial “advisor” Terrell Palmer has said, the Montgomery County government will have to take “evasive action” from the creditors of the tollroad. The bankruptcy of State Highway 121 south of Austin resulted in private investor sharks purchasing the tollroad and setting exorbitant tolls as they felt like it.
Craig Doyal had a choice between his tollroad or his County Judge job. He chose the tollroad.
Charlie Riley will have the same choice. He’ll choose the tollroad as well for the MONEY.
David Weston, Vice President of HDR Engineering, Inc., a reliable contributor both to Riley and Doyal, will receive a $3,424,625.00 engineering services contract on May 8 to provide “construction management services” for the TX 249 Tollway construction. There was no bidding for this contract.
There is no need for this contract. Halff Associates, Inc., is already receiving millions of dollars for “project management.” SpawGlass Construction is receiving $56 million to serve as the general contractor on the TX 249 Tollway. General contractors should and do provide construction management services.
The HDR contract is a shameful seizure of living, hard-working dollars, which Montgomery County citizens earn to support their families and themselves, and raising those dollars into a Frankenstein monster from the dead.
By the way, the HDR contract shows that County Attorney J.D. Lambright signed off on approving the contract as to form. That’s false. Lambright didn’t sign the approval. Besides, there is no reason the County Attorney should have anything to do with reviewing the HDR contract. That’s what the taxpayers have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Rich Muller to do. There is no sign that Muller reviewed the contract at all.
Creature from the Black Lagoon
Riley and Doyal placed the following item on the agenda for the foolish Commissioners Court to vote: “CONSIDER, DISCUSS AND TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION ON SPAWGLASS CONTRACT ADDENDUM FOR LIMITED NOTICE TO PROCEED.” We all know that the item will pass on a 3 to 2 vote, even though Meador and Riley will never review the contract addendum.
For all the citizens know, the contract addendum could involve construction of a swimming pool in Riley’s backyard and a $500,000 starter investment to get Doyal’s new engineering and lobbying firm underway. Two weeks ago, the Commissioners Court passed, 3-2, a First Amendment to a Reimbursement Agreement, which ended up including several matters that had nothing to do with the actual agenda item on which the Commissioners Court voted.
It’s very convenient not to attach contracts on which the Commissioners Court will vote. That way Doyal, Riley, Muller, Halff’s Bobby Adams, and Palmer can get the Commissioners Court to vote to “approve” whatever they feel like adding later to the actual contract Doyal will sign.
Under the Purchasing Department, which doesn’t seem to have any idea what is happening with any of the purchasing proposals that come before the Commissioners Court, there are two items for which neither Doyal nor Purchasing Director Gilbert Jalomo have provided any backup materials.
“TAKE ALL APPROPRIATE ACTION TO APPROVE THE RECOMMENDATION TO AWARD RFP – PROJECT #18-40 LEASE AND DEVELOPMENT OF APPROXIMATELY +/- .82 ACRE OF PARCEL PROPERTY WITH LEASE CONTRACT TO FOLLOW FOR CONROE NORTH HOUSTON REGIONAL AIRPORT.
“APPROVE THE CONTRACT WITH THE FOLLOWING HIGHLY QUALIFIED PROVIDER PER GOVERNMENT CODE CHAPTER 2254: ARCHITECTURAL SERVICES FOR SPRING CREEK NATURE CENTER NOT TO EXCEED $60,000 WITH PGAL FOR PRECINCT 3.”
Without contract, the Commissioners Court will approve these two items blindly. Jalomo will have no idea whether these expenditures are justified and whether the taxpayers are getting a good deal or a bloodsucking one at that.
Bride of Frankenstein
The Commissioners Court will give a job performance review to one of Doyal’s favorite employees, County Engineer Mark Mooney, who genuinely deserves termination at the conclusion of the performance review. Mooney has cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, because, as County Engineer, he should oversee the road bond projects but utterly fails to do so. As a result, the Commissioners Court pays those funds to outside contractor John Holzwarth who is doing the job that Mooney should be fulfilling as road engineer. The Commissioners Court will pay Holzwarth $6,072 just for the past two weeks.
Mooney, like Doyal, is rarely in the office. Mooney’s golf schedule, some rounds with Doyal, interferes with Mooney’s ability to serve as the County Engineer.
Mooney is little more than a financial liability to the citizens of Montgomery County. Clearly, the purpose of this performance review at this time is for Doyal to attempt to bolster the job file of his buddy.
The Holzwarth payment should come out of Mooney’s paycheck.
Lame duck County Judge Craig Doyal always tucks the “payment of accounts” under his super-secretive “consent agenda” where the Commissioners Court members don’t review, discuss, deliberate, or even glance at the millions of tax dollars flying out the door.
The payments include $65,865.41 to Graves Humphries Stahl, the law firm that fails to take any action to collect fees and fines in the JP courts, but which corrupt JP James Metts has foisted onto the County’s taxpayers. By their failure to collect fees and fines as efficiently as Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Edie Connelly, who utilizes the County’s Collections Department instead, the corrupt Metts is costing the County government and the taxpayers more than $880,000 per year.
The total bills are $11,431,584 over 82 single-spaced pages. No eyes review those expenditures.
The Wolf Man
The Commissioners Court will pay $10,599.57 to Halff Associates, Inc., the engineering firm of Bobby Jack Adams, the best friend and business partner of lame duck Doyal for “project management” for the $95 million, 3 mile, TX 249 Tollway, also known as the Decimation of Hope Highway.
If the County government is hiring HDR to provide construction management, why in the world do we need the Wolf Man’s finger nails grasping the project as well?
More than $10 million of budget amendments are on the agenda as an “emergency.”
The most amazing of those budget amendments is a completely unexplained $6,597,918.05 budget amendment to correct a mistake Riley made in his budget amendment during the April 24, 2018, Commissioners Court meeting. Apparently $6.5 million is not enough money for Riley to concern himself with to avoid a mistake in accounting.
It illustrates the degree to which Riley, Doyal, and County Auditor Phyllis Martin ignore their job responsibilities to the detriment of Montgomery County taxpayers.
$6.5 million! That sounds like a lot of money.
The entire May 8, 2018, Commissioners Court meeting is akin to a horror show.