Image: Disney’s depiction of the Seven Dwarfs in the classic 1937 movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. From left to right, they are Doc, Sneezy, Happy, Bashful, Dopey, Sleepy, and Grumpy.
Conroe, October 9 – There are at least seven perils, among many others, to the citizens of Montgomery County that they must face as the Montgomery County Commissioners Court meets on Tuesday, October 10, 2017, at 9:30 a.m., in the Sadler Administration Building in Conroe. Amazingly, the seven perils are nicely analogous to the Seven Dwarfs of the classic 1937 Disney movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Doc, Sneezy, Happy, Bashful, Dopey, Sleepy, and Grumpy.
Disney based the movie on the Grimm’s Fairy Tale which did not name the seven. Disney’s concept for their names was that the seven named themselves. Therefore, the names in this article reflect the Commissioners Court’s view of the character of these disgusting matters of consideration.
Payment of Accounts: Bashful
County Judge Craig Doyal and the Commissioners Court members are not only bashful about their payment of accounts set to begin the serious business of the meeting, they’re downright in hiding about those payments by tucking them away secretly on the so-called “Consent Agenda,” carefully conceived so that the public will (hopefully) remain unaware of this wasteful County government spending.
Agenda Item 9A1 includes:
- $24,068.15 in payments to collection law firm Graves Humphries out of the JP fees and fines funds for their poor collection work with respect to the four out of five Justice Courts for which they collect. By utilizing Graves Humphries, which Marc Davenport, JP James Metts, and Wayne Mack foisted upon the taxpayers, the County is losing millions of dollars in collections. The four JP courts which use Graves Humphries cannot compare to the stellar collections percentage of Judge Edie Connelly’s JP3, which utilizes the County’s in-house collection system.
- $13,808,370.80 of payments, including almost $1 million in unreviewed credit card charges on the County’s credit cards, in 91 pages of listed charges.
- Over $160,000 of payments out of the County general funds for the Tx-249 Tollway project that Doyal and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley continue to lie to taxpayers as claiming that it’s not costing the taxpayers any money. These payments include: $19,514.96 to Halff Associates, Inc., the firm of Bobby Jack Adams, Doyal’s best friend and business partner; $29,006.12 to CDM Smith, Inc., which just paid over $4,000,000 in criminal restitution to the U.S. Department of Justice for bribery and artificially inflating invoices and is under criminal indictments elsewhere; $8,098.75 to Rich Muller, the Sugar Land attorney who will give just about any legal opinion Doyal and Riley want him to give and who also is responsible for the taxation without representation of the Westwood Magnolia Community Improvement District; $103,303.39 to favored political contributor Jones & Carter engineering firm.
- An additional $16,860 to Halff Associates for other road and bridge projects.
- $12,300 paid to duplicative engineer John Holzwarth, who regularly contributes large portions of his fees back to Doyal, Riley, and Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador. Holzwarth’s alleged services duplicate the duties and responsibilities of salaried County employee Mark Mooney, the County Engineer.
Budget Amendments Only 10 Days Into the New Fiscal Year (!!!): Dopey
The Commissioners Court was far more focused in excluding public participation and scrutiny than they were in working to pass a good budget in the recent “budget workshops” and “hearings” for Fiscal Year 2018, which began only ten days ago on October 1. Doyal, Riley, Noack, and Meador actively disallowed citizen participation in the budget workshop, hid the budget from public view as long as possible, and ignored detailed citizen comments on September 5 about the numerous technical problems with the proposed budget.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that the dopey and arrogant Commissioners Court would need to approve more than $6.063 million of budget amendments so soon after the Fiscal Year has begun. The budget is a total mess.
County Auditor Phyllis Martin does little more than play politics and hides the budget. She refuses to follow Generally Accepted Accounting Principles which, by Texas law, must be applied to the budget process.
The Doyal-Noack “budget office” is a complete joke. With a $287,000 budget, it has no employees, no purpose, and no goals. It was just a shameful method of spending tax dollars, so the Commissioners Court would not have to face the terrible possibility of reducing taxes.
“Consider and Accept Completed Audits”: Doc
As County Auditor Martin’s primary role has been to hide financial information from the citizens and to issue propaganda to attempt to justify County spending, she’s become the financial spin doc of the Commissioners Court.
The agenda item, “consider and accept completed audits,” is no exception to Martin’s sleazy methods. None of the audits are even attached to the Commissioners Court Agenda online. It’s not clear whether the Commissioners Court members will even receive those alleged audits before the meeting.
What is clear, however, is that Martin continues to ignore Generally Accepted Accounting Principles in her so-called “audits.” Basically, she audits her own books, which is a clear violation of the anti-conflicts-of-interest principles in GAAP.
Nomination of the County’s Candidate to the Appraisal District Board: Grumpy
The Commissioners Court, particularly Riley, Meador, and Doyal, are extremely upset with a number of citizens who have dared to call them out for their clear direction to the Montgomery Central Appraisal District (MCAD) Board to raise property tax appraisals, as the main engine for raising taxes to allow them more government spending money. They’re downright grumpy about this nomination process.
Riley has indicated he doesn’t want to serve on the MCAD Board any longer. Meador wants to serve on it, probably to continue giving his family members tax appraisal breaks.
Only Noack and Clark proffered serious nominations for the positions: Peggy Hausman and Bill O’Sullivan, and Guy Hancock and Bob Casey, respectively.
The grumpiness of the Commissioners Court will likely make this agenda item the most entertaining to observe. It’ll be right after the citizen comments.
More Tollroad Machinations: Happy
The $73 million Tx-249 Tollway project, all 3.6 miles of it, makes Doyal and Riley happier than just about anything else. They adore it.
Doyal is happy that he’s brought millions of dollars in engineering payments to the firm of Bobby Jack Adams, Doyal’s best friend and business partner, who is Regional Vice President for Halff Associates, Inc., the so-called “project manager” of the Tollway.
Riley is happy that he’s putting millions of dollars into the pockets of County vendors who contribute massive amounts of money to his political campaign, Doyal’s political campaign, and their criminal legal defense fund. Riley is also happy because he’s making Rick Sheldon and Woodard Partners very, very happy by spending public funds to build them a road next to undeveloped pastureland that they hope to turn into commercial and residential real estate developments. Most developers have to construct their own roads, but Riley and Doyal are obliging their real constituents with this monstrous road.
The road has already cost the taxpayers over $13.5 million in general revenue funds.
Precinct 1’s new job position funded from the road and bridge “slush fund”: Sleepy’s new employee
“Sleeping” Mike Meador creates new jobs within his Commissioner Precinct 1 whenever he feels like it, whether it’s in the middle of the budget year or not. His new found friend Noack will now vote for anything Meador places in front of him (other than the Tollway), even though Noack used to follow a strict policy of not approving new positions other than in the budget hearings.
Meador will use carryover funds from his road and bridge “slush fund,” the infamous -7997 account, to pay for his new position that he’s opening outside of the budget process.
Sleepy does whatever he feels like doing.
Executive Session for the Advocates for Families in Crisis contract: Sneezy
Clearly, it’s time for the County government to give 60 days’ notice to terminate this contract and put the parental termination cases back on a “wheel” system, which will likely cost the taxpayers less coin and will remove the ethical and conflicts of interest problems of current provider, nonprofit law firm Advocates for Families in Crisis (AFC).
By common courtesy, one is to cover one’s nose while sneezing.
The County government is handling the AFC issue in an executive session wherein the Commissioners Court will allegedly confer with County Attorney J.D. Lambright. Lambright most certainly should advise the Court privately. The problem, however, is that the Court should only take action, in accordance with the provisions of the Texas Open Meetings Act, in the open session that follows the executive session.
But the likelihood is that the public will merely see Doyal utter some cryptic words such as “the County Attorney should do what we discussed he should do in executive session.” Doyal, who is not a believer in the Open Meetings Act, will violate the law when he does that, as will the remainder of the Commissioners Court. Under Texas law, a governmental body cannot take any actions or even engage in debate over actions during the executive session. They must do all of that out in the open after the executive session has occurred.
Expect a cover up of what the County government intends to do.
Please notice that there is no Snow White nor is there a Prince (at least not in this County government!).