Eric Yollick, The Golden Hammer
The Golden Hammer endorses Conroe ISD President Melanie Pryor Bush for Montgomery County Treasurer in the November 6, 2018, General Election. Since the retirement of the remarkable Martha Gustavsen as County Treasurer in 2013, Montgomery County citizens have suffered with a Treasurer who has no finance background, no education beyond high school, and who had little work experience other than a brief stint as a secretary in the Treasurer’s Office and odd jobs such as making bars of soap at her home.
The incumbent whom Bush will replace got her job by appointment as a result of her political connection to then-County Commissioner Craig Doyal. The incumbent has made a mess of the Treasurer’s Office and chosen secrecy and lying as her primary office policies.
Getting rid of the incumbent by electing Bush would constitute a giant step towards reform and away from corruption of the Montgomery County government.
Bush, as a reformer, needs always to remember who is at the top of the government organizational chart: the citizens. She will work for us. She will need to do the citizens’ will, not her own.
Who is Bush?
Melanie Bush owns a successful bookkeeping firm that employs 18 individuals with offices in The Woodlands and Georgetown to serve their clients. Bush graduated from SMU in 2002 with degrees in political science, public policy, and economics. She founded Better Bookkeepers in 2010. Lone Star College’s Small Business Development Center named her firm the “Small Business of the Year” in 2016.
The citizens elected Bush to the Board of Trustees for Conroe Independent School District, where she has served as Secretary and is currently President. She is the Past President and Past Lead Mentor for the Executive Women’s Alliance, as well as a Power Mentor for the Montgomery County Association of Business Women. The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce gave Bush the “Citizen of the Year Award” in 2016.
Her husband, Alan Bush, is an attorney who focuses on employment law. The Bushes have two daughters who attend Conroe ISD schools.
Bush and CISD Trustee Ray Sanders led the effort within the Conroe ISD to provide reappraisal relief to victims of Tropical Storm Harvey, even though some of the liberal members of the Board of Trustees opposed anything which would lower the school district’s tax collections.
Issues in County Treasurer’s race
There are some major issues in the County Treasurer’s office. Getting rid of the incumbent will improve the office immensely, although there remain important questions of how the citizens should organize the County government.
The incumbent revealed her misunderstanding of finance and accounting, as well as the County Treasurer’s Department, during the July, 2017, budget hearings before the Commissioners Court when she claimed that her payroll operation was less expensive than utilizing a outside contract payroll service for County employee paychecks. Bush demonstrated in an independent report and video that her opponent had left out many of the inputs that constitute costs in the County’s payroll operation. It’s apparent that Bush has a superb understanding of payroll and accounting and could bring important reforms that would make the Montgomery County government more efficient.
There’s another major payroll issue, however, in the County Treasurer’s Office. During the late spring of 2017, the incumbent’s husband began to post private information about the County’s payroll on his Facebook page. The incumbent’s husband is not even a County employee so he had no business whatsoever having access to that information. Numerous County employees have told The Golden Hammer that they have gone from electronic payroll payments back to issuance of paper paychecks, so that the incumbent and her husband would not have private bank account information about them.
In other words, the County Treasurer’s Office needs to protect payroll privacy rights of County employees while, on other matters, it needs to enact the openness and transparency which are state policies under Chapter 552 of the Texas Government Code (the Texas Public Information Act.)
Nepotism has become a gigantic issue in the County Treasurer’s Office, because, as the incumbent describes the situation, she “houses” County Judge Craig Doyal’s daughter as an employee (payroll supervisor). Even the incumbent told The Golden Hammer, “nepotism is an abuse of power.” Nevertheless, the incumbent secretly tried to get a major promotion and salary increase for Doyal’s daughter as part of what she labeled a “reorganization.”
The “reorganization” was little more than a pretext for crass politics and nepotism. The incumbent repeatedly lied that she had never intended to give Doyal’s daughter a promotion or raise. Documents which this newspaper obtained from the County Human Resources Department revealed that the incumbent had specifically sought the promotion for Doyal’s daughter in writing in a document the incumbent prepared and provided to the HR Director.
On March 14, 2017, when the whole ugly issue had boiled over to the front page of The Golden Hammer, the incumbent went into Commissioners Court and childishly announced from the podium that “there is a huge lack of integrity” in the County HR Department. The childish behavior and finger-pointing reflected right back upon the incumbent herself.
Transparency versus Secrecy
Bush has made an important point during this electoral contest with respect to the lack of appropriate office procedures in the County Treasurer’s Office. On December 1, 2017, Bush requested a copy of the incumbent’s office procedures manual, pursuant to the Texas Open Records Act. The incumbent refused to disclose her office procedures. Thanks to the efforts of Bush, a brave citizen by the name of Justin Pulliam, and this newspaper, the incumbent didn’t get away with that stunt.
Bush, told The Golden Hammer, “One of the core tenets of my campaign is transparency. These documents directly involve how the County Treasurer’s Office and the entire County government spend our tax dollars. We should know how they’re doing it. The public has every right to know whether those measures are the most efficient measures possible.”
The incumbent’s other bizarre behavior
Bush’s opponent is just plain bizarre. Bush’s opponent went around a Doyal campaign fundraiser on June 20 telling people, including the Chief of Staff for a State Representative, that those people were on her “Hit List” because they dared to “like” Bush’s posts on Facebook.
Bush’s opponent’s behavior is downright adolescent. Please see “Conroe City Councilman Duane Ham: ‘The Davenports’ Threats Against County Judge Craig Doyal Are An Insult To The Law Enforcement Community And The Citizens” (The Davenports, Part 1),'” The Golden Hammer, May 31, 2017.
Bush is a mature lady, good parent, and great business lady. She’ll bring those attributes to the County Treasurer’s Office. Melanie Pryor Bush, the Republican Nominee, is the clear choice to be our next Montgomery County Treasurer.
Oh, and by the way, Melanie Pryor Bush is not kin to the family of George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Jeb Bush, and George P. Bush. (That’s good.)