Commissioners Court ratings: Sickening consent agenda, improper executive session dominate April 25 Commissioners Court meeting

County Attorney J.D. Lambright urged the Commissioners Court members to avoid any appearance of impropriety at previous meetings. The Meador-Riley-Doyal axis gave Lambright some serious trouble during the Executive Session. There’s a limit to what an attorney can do, if his clients ignore him.

ERIC YOLLICK, The Golden Hammer

Conroe, May 2 – The Montgomery County Commissioners held a meeting on Tuesday, April 25, 2017, at 9:30 a.m., but most of the business they conducted was in secret. The Golden Hammer will attempt to share a bit of what occurred in secret as well as provide ratings for the votes of the members of the Commissioners Court.

Every Commissioners Court member gets a 0 rating out of 95 points. Commissioner James Noack, Precinct 3, actually voted wisely on several items. Nevertheless, every one of the Court members should have walked out of the illegal Executive Session that lasted almost 2 hours at the end of the meeting. Discussions outside of the Executive Session agenda item CANNOT occur under the Texas Open Meetings Act. Votes or agreements to concur may NOT occur in Executive Sessions under the Texas Open Meetings Act.

Executive Sessions are only for the purpose of garnering information or asking questions. Once deliberation, discussion, or votes occur on an action item, that MUST occur in the open meeting. County Attorney J.D. Lambright should do a much better job policing Executive Sessions and ensuring that the agendas for such meetings comply with the notice requirements of Texas law. One can imagine how full his hands must be with Doyal, Riley, and Meador among the “schoolchildren” he must attempt to discipline behind the closed doors of the Executive Session meeting room.

Points are good.

COMMISSIONERS COURT MEETING APRIL 25, 2017, 9:30 a.m. (Judge Doyal and Commissioners Meador, Noack, Riley, and Clark were present.)

Agenda Item 9A1: Consider and approve payment of accounts. Without any review, discussion, or examination, the County Commissioners approved spending over $4.1 million in expenditures  25 points. Major vote. A “No” vote is appropriate.

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack YES

Clark YES

Agenda Item 9A2: Consider and approve Budget Amendment for Fiscal Year 2017. Some of the budget amendments were minor, but others weren’t. The Commissioners Court classified – illegally – several hundred thousand dollars of Budget Amendments as “emergencies” and “grave public” necessities. Another major vote. 25 points. A “no” vote is appropriate.

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack YES

Clark YES

Agenda Items 9C: Approve over $1 million in contracts and change orders. No discussion, no deliberation, no consideration. A “No” vote is appropriate.10 points.

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack YES

Clark YES

Agenda Item 11A: Consider and take appropriate action on FY 2018 Budget Packet and FY 2018 Budget Projections. Royal and Meador sent a pretty clear message to County Departments that they don’t care about reducing government spending. Clark and Riley were silent. Noack spoke loud and clear that Departments should submit proposed budgets with spending reductions. While his proposal for across-the-board spending reductions is inappropriate, it’s better than doing nothing. Noack gets a 10 point bonus!

Agenda Item 14: Spend $183,975.00 in unbudgeted maintenance and runway marking painting with no backup to substantiate the need for or the amount of the expenditure. The airport is a boondoggle there to massage Meador’s ego. This spending should stop. 25 points for a major vote. A “No” vote is proper. Passed 4 to 1 (Noack dissenting).

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack NO

Clark YES

Agenda Item 15A: Move several positions from the Tax Assessor-Collector Department to the Information Technology Department, a total mess of a County Department with no explanation for why these transfers need to happen in the middle of the Budget Year. It’s budget neutral. Passed 4 to 1 (Noack dissenting).

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack NO

Clark YES

Agenda Item 16A: Close several part-time positions to open a reference librarian position needed. It’s budget neutral. Passed 4 to 1 (Noack dissenting).

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack NO

Clark YES

Agenda Item 17A: Approve purchasing contracts. There was no backup for several of these votes. One of them included the contract for John Holzworth to continue engineering services for road bond projects that duplicates the job responsibility of the County Engineering whom we already pay to do that work. Holzwarth does a terrible job managing the cost of these projects. Major vote. 25 points. A “No” vote is proper.

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack YES

Clark YES

Agenda Item 20B1: Clark hired Chris Parr as a Mechanic Supervisor. He told the Commissioners Court that he had promised Parr that Parr would get a raise to $75,000 after 6 months, if the work arrangement was successful. Clark argued to the Commissioners Court that he was saving the County money by providing mechanical work, including diagnostics, to the Precinct 4 Constable’s Department for their vehicles. Clark also argued that Parr has permitted the County to utilized several thousand dollars of diagnostic equipment for vehicle repairs. Doyal, who supports one of Clark’s electoral opponent, Judge James Metts, for Precinct 4 County Commissioner and who didn’t like Clark’s agreeing to cooperate with the government in the Texas Open Meetings Act (“TOMA”) prosecution against Doyal and Riley, criticized Clark’s proposal because it was a shift of positions in mid-year, even though Doyal has consistently voted for such changes on numerous other occasions. Doyal and Riley voted against it, and that looked like “payback” for the TOMA situation. Noack made clear that he voted against Clark’s proposal because Noack always votes against mid-year budget changes involving salaries. Clark’s motion failed 2 to 3. While a “No” vote was proper under the specific circumstances, it’s possible that Clark could come back to the Commissioners Court with a full financial analysis to show that his proposal would, in fact, save the County money. 10 points.

Doyal NO

Meador YES

Riley NO

Noack NO

Clark YES

Agenda Item 21. Here’s where the major items of secrecy occurred. The Executive Session was noticed improperly as follows:

“A. Discuss and deliberate the employment and duties of selected public employees. (Section 551.074)

“B. Consider and discuss Claim No. C-16-0146 (Section 551.071).”

Here’s what happened in the Executive Session:

#1 The Commissioners Court members continued to debate Clark’s proposal to give Parr a raise. That was illegal, because that matter was wholly outside of the posted Executive Session under the Texas Open Meetings Act.

#2 The Commissioners Court interviewed Aaron Jackson to be the Animal Shelter. That was illegal, because the Commissioners Court failed to post this item with proper notice of its content under the Texas Open Meetings Act.

#3 The Commissioners Court, according to Doyal, did the following which must have occurred in the Executive Session, because nothing happened in the open meeting afterwards: “The court agreed to offer the position to Mr. Johnson, and he formally accepted Wednesday.” That was illegal, although Clark and Noack deny that such an agreement or vote ever occurred.

#4 The Commissioners Court considered and discussed Claim Number C-16-0146 before the Texas Workforce Commission. That was also illegal, because the Commissioners Court failed to post this item with proper notice of its content under the Texas Open Meetings Act.

As soon as any of the foregoing discussions began, the members of the Commissioners Court should have walked out of the Executive Session room. They all failed to do that. They all receive a DEDUCTION of 100 points, although their scores can go no lower than 0.

TOTAL SCORES FOR April 11, 2017 MEETING.

Doyal 0/95. Grade = F.

Meador 0/95. Grade = F.

Riley 0/95. Grade = F.

Noack 0/95. Grade = F.

Clark 0/95. Grade = F.

CUMULATIVE POSSIBLE SCORES FOR FY 2017 = 2,719.

Doyal = 282/2,719. Grade = F.

Meador = 322/2,719. Grade = F.

Riley = 342/2,719. Grade = F.

Noack = 1,347/2,719. Grade = F.

Clark = 787/2,719. Grade = F.

Disappointing (again). The so-called “consent agenda” is a serious problem that Commissioner Noack and Commissioner Clark must address. There simply should never be a consent agenda. The Commissioners Court should conduct open deliberations before the citizens on every issue. The Executive Session was a disaster. Ever heard of the Texas Open Meetings Act?

As citizens, we must remain vigilant.




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