Conroe, April 23 – The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, celebrates 100 days of publication today. The online newspaper began publication at 12:01 a.m., Saturday, January 14, 2017. For the first three weeks, the paper published weekly. It also had some major kinks to work out. One of them was the appearance. In its third week of publication, The Golden Hammer joined a select group of proprietary exclusive users of the newspaper appearance you now see. There’s a reason that our sister newspapers, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, look similar: they utilize the same exclusive template. On February 15, 2017, The Golden Hammer became a daily, publishing at least two new original-content stories per day, and also picked up the right to channel Associated Press stories.
Since its inception, this newspaper has published just over 300 original content stories featuring facts and issues surrounding the Montgomery County government. If you look at the Tags shown on the Home Page (bottom right), you’ll see on what topics this newspaper focuses. As the paper made clear at its inception, the Publisher and staff of The Golden Hammer believe that County government spending needs to come down substantially. We face a looming fiscal crisis, as citizens find that a huge percentage of their income goes to pay local, state, and federal taxes. As Senator Phil Gramm (R-Texas) warned in 1996, at some point the United States will face a complete fiscal collapse when citizens can’t support profligate government spending.
That’s why this newspaper exists. We believe that, if Montgomery County’s government can’t reduce government spending substantially, then no government will be able to do so. Why? Because we live in one of the most conservative and Republican counties in the United States. We have intelligent citizens and wonderfully vital human and natural resources. The growth of our community should not be the excuse for government to grow faster than the population. To the contrary, with a growing population, government should find significant economies of scale.
This newspaper has found and fostered a major resource: hundreds of County government employees who secretly are appalled at the waste, mismanagement, and downright corruption they have seen first-hand inside the Montgomery County government. Those wonderful County employees and many other regular citizens have become a gigantic network of information they regularly provide to The Golden Hammer either as confidential sources or as individuals who choose to provide the information under their names.
This newspaper does not exist to “target” anyone. Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal, Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley, and Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Meador are often the subjects of The Golden Hammer‘s stories, because they are the worst perpetrators of wasteful spending of tax dollars.
Doyal, Riley, and Meador seem genuinely committed to increasing the size, tax dollar spending, and interference of government in the lives of the citizens who must support them. They play games with the truth. The prime example of the gamesmanship is use of the word “conservative.” Doyal has tried to claim that a “fiscal conservative” is someone who allows government spending to grow at a certain rate. But Doyal, Riley, and Meador don’t and won’t take the hard look at County spending required to reduce government spending. At times, their other colleagues on the Commissioners Court join them in those anti-citizen actions.
If one looks at the Tags on the Home Page, one notices that the word “Noack” is one of the largest. Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack is not perfect. He votes far too often to go along with Doyal’s, Riley’s, and Meador’s spending regime. Nevertheless, Noack is a unique public servant. Noack runs a Commissioners Precinct that stands out for its efficiency, public service, and transparency. Noack had a profound impact on the animal shelter during 2016 when he enlisted the help of ordinary citizens who deeply cared about the Montgomery County Animal Shelter. He spent almost an entire week in meetings with citizen after citizen who wanted to provide input on the direction of the shelter. He then worked with Riley to put forward a plan to reform the shelter which eventually led to the hiring of a new shelter director and a better direction for the entire institution. Noack has shown some superb leadership. His voting record is, by far, the best on the Montgomery County Commissioners Court.
Is The Golden Hammer decidedly pro-law enforcement? Yes. Why? Because both the theory of government and the practice of government, in Montgomery County as well as elsewhere, reveal that law enforcement is one of the few functions that government actually does well. Although not perfect, Montgomery County’s Sheriff, Rand Henderson, has shown some fine leadership in his first few months in office. It’s no coincidence that his Department, the largest in the County and the one that is largely independent of the mess under Doyal’s mismanagement, is the only place where “zero-based budgeting” and other careful financial practices occur inside the Montgomery County government. The Sheriff’s Department gets the job done, because law enforcement is the natural function of local government. It’s the primary reason that local government exists. The Montgomery County government does not exist, however, to funnel money into lobbying organizations that vociferously fight against property tax reform, one of the expenditures which Doyal roundly endorses.
Government transparency and openness are also major issues for this newspaper. By centralizing his control of the Montgomery County government, Doyal has created a dark and secretive world of government operations and management. Nepotism, conflicts of interest, and wasteful spending thrive in such an environment. With the aid of his allies, Meador and Riley, Doyal has held a lock on the Commissioners Court. Doyal, Riley, and their close ally and consigliere Marc Davenport, the shadowy local political consultant and husband of County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport, even went so far as to get a major transparency provision of the Texas Open Meetings Act declared unconstitutional. There’s a good reason The Golden Hammer covered that issue extensively. If we’re going to clean up government, we’ll have to fight Doyal, Riley, and Davenport to obtain information about what the secret government operations entail. Right after Visiting District Judge Randy Clapp granted Doyal’s, Riley’s, and Davenport’s motion and declared the Texas Open Meetings Act provision unconstitutional, several of their allies rejoiced, “Finally, we’re going be able to get business done inside the Montgomery County government.”
The darkness, the secrecy, the waste, the nepotism, the conflicts of interest, and the gross unfairness to regular citizens like you and me will continue to thrive, unless you join The Golden Hammer to apply the vigilance and scrutiny which will choke them out of existence.