Image: Throughout the Chinese Coronavirus response, Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson led in accordance with Constitutional principles and with a tender heart for individuals, families, and businesses suffering.
The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Conroe, May 19 – The Golden Hammer has received substantial feedback from our readers and the Montgomery County community in general with respect to the response of elected government officials in Montgomery County, statewide, and nationally to the Chinese Coronavirus scare. After lengthy consultations with others and amongst our Editorial Board, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper rates our government officials with respect to their response to the virus scare. We list those officials in order of their rating from highest to lowest.
Sheriff Rand Henderson ran under the claim that he is an adherent to the United States Constitution and the philosophy of Max Weber. His actions and those of the men and women of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office during the Chinese Coronavirus panic revealed that Henderson is true to his word. Henderson made clear to his team of more than 750 employees that they should not arrest people for violations of the Montgomery County Judge’s and Governor’s unconstitutional business closure and lockdown orders. Sheriff’s Office employees, especially the certified peace officers, have gently nudged people to comply with the orders “for the good of the community.” Nevertheless, they have not utilized any of the strong arm tactics which police forces have implemented in many of Texas’ largest cities and which two United States District Judges in Houston (one Republican and one Democrat) have declared in violation of the Constitution.
President Donald Trump has not hesitated to question health authorities, the Chinese government, and others during the panic. What the President clearly led, however, was a strong effort to disseminate information to the public, so that individuals and families would voluntarily take precautions to work to prevent the spread of the disease. The President has an unusual style of coming to his positions on important issues. He thinks aloud, which frustrates the liberal news media, because they want to pin him to positions, which they then oppose. Throughout the crisis, the President has fought for American businesses, for individual rights, and for sharing as much information with the American people as the government could possibly find. He has shown great leadership in the face of a very difficult situation where liberals wanted government mandates rather than relying upon individual voluntary actions.
Walter D. Wilkerson, Jr., the outgoing Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman, is not a government official. Nevertheless, he took one important action during the Chinese Coronavirus panic. On May 4, Wilkerson wrote a letter to Texas Governor Greg Abbott urging the Governor to allow all businesses in Texas to reopen, including salons, gyms, and bars, among others. As a Party official, Wilkerson didn’t have direct responsibility for the response to the Chinese Coronavirus threat, but he showed terrific leadership in that one action.
Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon hasn’t been at the forefront of media coverage during the panic. Nevertheless, behind the scenes, Ligon has shown sober contemplative leadership. He has backed Sheriff Henderson’s decisions with respect to law enforcement. DA Ligon made clear that his office would not prosecute violations of the County Judge’s and Governor’s orders to impose criminal penalties. In private consultations with other government officials, Ligon has made clear that the criminal penalties provisions in the Texas Government Code simply do not pass Constitutional muster.
Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley has fought for businesses and families in Commissioner Precinct 2 during the Coronavirus scare. In particular, Riley has taken two important actions which merit his score. First, Riley made clear that he wants the County government and Governor Greg Abbott to allow all businesses to begin to reopen, not just a select chosen few. Second, Riley, has stated his position that the County government cannot even consider increased spending and, instead, will probably need to go back to a budget with spending amounts in the range of several years ago.
State Representative Steve Toth, Republican of Conroe, has done a superb job representing the true interests of the people of his district during the panic. Toth has consistently urged the Montgomery County government and Governor Greg Abbott to stay away from unconstitutional “orders” requiring business closures and lockdowns. Toth has also provided his constituents with an excellent daily newsletter containing up-to-date information and statistics to aid citizens in their efforts to reopen Texas.
State Senator Brandon Creighton and State Representatives Cecil Bell of Magnolia and Will Metcalf of Conroe fought or the Constitutional rights of Texans during the Chinese Coronavirus response. They lobbied the Governor’s Office fiercely to limit business closures and lockdowns. They even tussled with Montgomery County government officials who wanted those closures and lockdowns to occur. Additionally the Senator and the two Representatives did wonderful work to support voluntary responses and charitable efforts during the crisis.
Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador did a wonderful job listening to his constituents during the past two months. He made himself accessible by telephone and was one of the most communicative members of the County government. During Commissioners Court meetings, Meador made clear that County spending must reflect the difficult circumstances of the taxpayers of Montgomery County.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, behind the scenes, opposed the lockdown and business closures throughout the Chinese Coronavirus response. He so advised Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Paxton made clear to government officials that the government did not have the Constitutional authority to close down churches and businesses. Paxton was not a decision maker on those issues but his legal opinions have had an important impact on the discourse about the government’s Constitutional overreach.
Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner James Noack and Precinct 4 Commissioner James Metts did a good job making information available to their constituents. Noack and Metts both have urged the Montgomery County Judge to allow the reopening of businesses as quickly as possible.
Montgomery County Attorney B.D. Griffin has said little other than what he thought the government officials for whom he is to act as attorney want to hear. Clearly, he didn’t give proper guidance to the County Judge with respect to the Chinese Coronavirus business closure and lockdown orders. During the week of April 27, when the County Judge first said he would not require hair salons to remain closed and then reversed his position, Griffin did little more than follow, rather than lead.
Director of the U.S. Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci did little more than scare people during the Chinese Coronavirus panic. Some of his statements sprang from scientific data but many of his comments, especially urging business closures and lockdowns, were innuendo and scare tactics couched as though they were scientific.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has certainly had a difficult job. He’s a very intelligent person and was a talented lawyer and judge. He has the mental ability to make his own decisions. Nevertheless, in numerous briefings of state officials, Abbott made clear that public opinion polls ruled his decisions. His GA-18 Executive Order which was completely unclear with respect to the closures of certain businesses, including hair and tanning salons, gymnasiums, and bars, seemed to choose to open politically powerful businesses while discriminating against those without a powerful lobby. The Shelley Luther case in Dallas illustrated how devastating the impact of his decisions has actually been. Abbott should have listened to Constitutional lawyers and epidemiologists, not pollsters.
The Montgomery County Public Health District handled the Chinese Coronavirus response as terribly as it possibly could have done so. This quite agency, which does not have an elected Board of Directors, scared the County Judge into implementing a mandatory lockdown order on March 27 when many of the physicians affiliated with the agency opposed such lockdown orders altogether. Their actions were shameful and led to the loss of lives in our community.