THE GOLDEN HAMMER’S JANUARY 24, 2017 COMMISSIONERS COURT RATINGS: Commissioners Pass Ethics Policy Under Tx-DOT Threat of Funding Withdrawal!

Conroe, January 28 – The Golden Hammer released Commissioners Court ratings for the January 24, 2017, meeting, with cumulative scores as well for the Fiscal Year 2017 reporting period.

Points are good.

COMMISSIONERS COURT MEETING JANUARY 24, 2017, 9:30 A.M. (Judge Doyal and Commissioners, Meador, Noack, Riley, and Clark were present.)

The Consent Agenda was a debacle for taxpayers.

Agenda Item 8A1 – Consider and Accept Report of Cash Count and Deposit Findings, Quarter 1, FY 2017 – County Auditor Phyllis Martin and her staff did a fine job on these cash counts and reports. No vote taken.

Agenda Item 8A2 – Budget Amendments for FY 2016 – It’s ridiculous that they’re still cleaning up the accounting mess they created during the past Fiscal Year. None of the Commissioners showed any knowledge or interest whatsoever in ensuring that these accounts were proper, correct, or within the budget. A “NO” vote is proper under those circumstances. 10 points.

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack YES

Clark YES

Agenda Item 8A3 – Consider and Approve More Budget Amendments for the Current Fiscal Year – There are some large multi-million dollar budget amendments which the Commissioners passed without review, discussion, or concern. A “NO” vote is the proper vote. 10 points.

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack YES

Clark YES

Agenda Item 8A4 – Consider and approve Payment of Accounts – None of the County Judge or Commissioners seem to review these accounts. 25 points. “No” vote is the proper vote, or at least some review and discussion. Incredibly, these payments included millions of dollars for the Tx-249 Decimation of Hope Highway and additional payments to the “on-call” contract transportation engineer John Holzwarth. All of the Commissioners Court members slept.

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack YES

Clark YES

Agenda Item 8A5 – Consider and accept reports of Chapter 59 Asset Forfeitures – The Commissioners Court members should at least pretend to review these reports in an open, transparent meeting.

Agenda Item 8C – Approve multiple purchasing items. There was little disclosure of these purchasing items all of which are a great secret. It is clear, however, that they involve hundreds of thousands of dollars of expenditures. 10 points. “No” vote is the proper vote.

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack YES

Clark YES

Agenda Item 8E1c – Transfer $6,479.96 in salary and cell phone use from one of Commissioner Meador’s secretaries to another, twice, for a total of approximately $13,000. There was no discussion of why a secretary would need a cell phone allowance or why these changes should occur in the middle of the budget year. A “NO” vote is the proper vote. 5 points.

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack YES

Clark YES

Citizen Comments

Rigby Owen, Jr., spoke in favor of moving the Veterans Memorial Park to a location under the control of the City of Conroe.

Kelli Cook urged the Commissioners Court to appoint Jill Savory to the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District Board of Directors and to support a resolution to elect all seats on that board. (Interestingly, the LSGCD’s attorney, James Stilwell, later expressed to county officials his unhappiness that Cook and other members of the Liberty Belles Republican Womens organization would urge specific appointees. Stilwell has asked to speak to the Board of Directors of the Republican Womens group, a request which seems rather inappropriate for the attorney representing the District as a whole.)

Stacy Buick asked the Commissioners Court to appoint a conservative woman to the LSGCD Board.

Bill O’Sullivan spoke in favor of passage of a strong ethics policy.

District Attorney Brett Ligon urged the Commissioners Court to adopt a strong ethics policy that went far beyond the minimum legal requirements of Texas criminal laws.

Agenda Item 10A – Consider and discuss a countywide safe clear towing program. HGAC Director of Transportation Alan Clark made a lengthy and boring presentation in favor of a monopolistic towing policy that would involve the County limiting tow truck operators who may clear stalled or damaged vehicles from trafficways and paying those operators fixed fees for their services. Commissioner James Noack and Commissioner Jim Clark both questioned whether establishing such monopolistic practices would be appropriate. Noack asked the HGAC’s Clark whether any specific studies were done for Montgomery County’s traffic patterns and needs. The HGAC bureaucrat first attempted not to answer the question but eventually conceded that no such studies backed any of the broad statements in his lengthy power point presentation.

Agenda Item 10B – Consider and take appropriate action on decommissionin the Montgomery County War Memorial Park and moving it to another location. Former County Judge Jimmy Edwards made a stirring, patriotic presentation. The Commissioners Court voted unanimously to adopt his recommendations.

Agenda Item 10C – Consider, discuss, and approve appointment to the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District Board. The discussion eventually resulted in a motion by Commissioner James Noack, which the Court adopted over the objection of Commissioner Mike Meador, to conduct a public interview workshop after the February 14, 2017, Commissioners Court meeting in order to interview candidates for the LSGCD Board of Directors publicly. Commissioner Meador expressed his support for conducting the interviews in secret, although he did vote for the workshop motion in the formal vote. Each member of the Commissioners Court will suggest one person for the interviews. Those five (or fewer) individuals will be the finalists for the public interviews during the workshop. The candidates are Duane Cantrell (Noack suggestion), Randy Councill (Doyal suggestion), Jack Curtsinger (Riley and Clark suggestion), Webb Melder (Clark and Noack suggestion), Robert Secrest (Clark suggestion), Jill Savory (Meador suggestion), and Mike Winkler (Riley suggestion).

Councill and Melder seem to have the most community support. The Golden Hammer will run a story on LSGCD on January 29, 2017.

A “Yes” vote on Commissioner Noack’s suggestion for a public interview workshop is proper. 10 points.

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack YES

Clark YES

Agenda Item 10D – Consider, discuss, and take appropriate action on proposed resolution in support of legislation making some or all of Lonestar Groundwater Conservation District Board seats elected. 10 points. “Yes” vote is proper.

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack YES

Clark YES

Agenda Item 10E – Consider, discuss, and take appropriate action regarding adoption of a Code of Ethics for Montgomery County. 25 points. Major Vote. “Yes” vote is proper.

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack YES

Clark YES

Agenda Item 12 – There was discussion that Constable David Hill, Precinct 5 (Magnolia area) is actively enforcing narcotics laws.

Agenda Item 13C – Authorize carryover unspent funding for the Mental Health Court Services into future fiscal years. The Commissioners didn’t ask, discuss, or consider how much money this motion involved.

Agenda Item 16 – Animal Shelter. Director Charles Jackson made a succinct and critically-important presentation which resulted in the Commissioners Court adopting the following changes to the Animal Restraint Ordinance:

  1. Eliminating the “animal establishment” regulations for individuals who own ten or more animals;
  2. Making the stray hold 4 days but to include the day when the animal comes into the shelter;
  3. Exempt puppies and kittens from the 4-day stray hold in order to accelerate their adoption and protect their health.

A “Yes” vote was proper. 10 points.

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack YES

Clark YES

Agenda Item 17A – Consider and authorized information technology and insurance purchases totaling several hundred thousand dollars. There was no discussion, review, or transparency whatsoever. A “No” vote was proper under those circumstances. 10 points.

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack YES

Clark YES

Agenda Item 20A – Consider and re-appoint Airport Advisory Board members. 10 points. No discussion, no transparency. Commissioner Meador carefully mumbled the identity of the reappointed board members so that no one in the room could hear him, including the other members of the Commissioners Court. As a result, his motion passed unanimously. A “No” vote was proper. 10 points.

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack YES

Clark YES

Agenda Item 21A – Consider and approve payroll change request forms. No discussion, no consideration, no transparency. Nothing within the agenda. These changes gave merit raises and cell phone allowances to Commissioners Meador’s two secretaries. 5 points. “No” vote is proper.

Doyal YES

Meador YES

Riley YES

Noack YES

Clark YES

Citizen Comments.

Eric Yollick presented “The Golden Sledgehammer” Award to County Judge Craig Doyal and Commissioner Charlie Riley for their work for the $100 million Tx-249 3.6 mile Decimation of Hope Highway spending debacle.

Bill O’Sullivan briefly discuss some concerns about county road projects.

Jessica Shorten suggested that the County’s Ethics Committee should consist of public members elected from each Commissioners Precinct. The youngest person in the room offered a very wise suggestion that, of course, the County Judge and Commissioners Court members ignored.

TOTAL SCORES FOR JANUARY 24, 2017 MEETING.

Doyal 55/140. Grade = F.

Meador 55/140. Grade = F.

Riley 55/140. Grade = F.

Noack 55/140. Grade = F.

Clark 55/140. Grade = F.

CUMULATIVE POSSIBLE SCORES FOR FY 2017 = 1,292 Points.

Cumulative Scores through January 24, 2017:

Doyal = 125/1,432. Grade = F.

Meador = 215/1,432. Grade = F.

Riley = 200/1,432. Grade = F.

Noack = 355/1,432. Grade = F.

Clark = 80/1,432. Grade = F.

Disappointing (again). As citizens, we must remain vigilant and raise our awareness.

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