Image: Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley (always on the left) treats Montgomery County taxpayers icily, as he celebrates his exorbitant salary with Ms. Frosty (right).
The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Conroe, October 22 – Montgomery County, one of the most politically conservative communities in the United States, suffers one of the most corrupt County governments in America. The County government is little more than a funnel for pouring money into the pockets of rich vendors and greedy politicians.
A few weeks ago, one of the readers of The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, asked a question in response to an article the newspaper shared on social media. Jonna Johnson of Magnolia asked, “When are the commissioners going to actually run numbers and be responsible with OUR checkbook?”
“When are the commissioners going to actually run numbers and be responsible with OUR checkbook?” – Jonna Johnson, Magnolia
$344,605,268, that’s $344.6 million, is the total amount of the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget. Of that Budget, sixty-eight percent (68%) is for the bloated salaries of Montgomery County government employees, according to Budget Office Director Amanda Carter. Not only does the County government have far too many employees for the necessary tasks but also compensation is through the stratosphere.
For example, the salary of a Montgomery County Commissioner is $177,174.92. Benefits exceed $71,401.49 per year. Therefore, total annual compensation for the County Commissioners, two of the four of whom barely have high school diplomas, is $248,576.41, among the highest paid government salaries – federal, state, or local – in the entire State of Texas.
Take the example of Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley. Riley was a failed truck driver and then a failed restaurant operator. He went to work in a political job for his friend Craig Doyal who had recently become a County Commissioner. Riley and Doyal ran one of the worst road and bridge operations in the area, as Precinct 2 roads were in terrible condition under their supervision.
In other words, County taxpayers are rewarding Riley and his Commissioners Court colleagues with massive compensation for doing a terrible job at what they do.
Riley’s main contribution to the Montgomery County government has been his adroitness at corruption. Riley enjoys a massive revolving door of political contributions from County government vendors seeking his favor as they reach for lucrative government contracts. Riley delivers more than anyone else in the County government.
Just in the past three years, Riley has been responsible for:
- The failed Enterprise Resource Planning software, costing taxpayers $16 million, after County Purchasing Manager Gilbert Jalomo promised it would never exceed $14.8 million. Worse still, Montgomery County Tax Assessor-Collector Tammy McRae argued vehemently in public and behind-the-scenes for the County government to spend a mere $250,000 on a new accounting system instead. In other words, Riley cost the taxpayers $15,750,000.00!
- Riley just shoved an $18 million Forensics Center down the throats of County taxpayers without revealing any plans, drawings, or specifications to his colleagues on the Commissioners Court. With Commissioners Mike Meador and James Metts voting along with him, the Commissioners Court voted 3 to 1 (James Noack) to approve the massive expenditure. It turned out that Riley hid the actual drawings and specifications, which revealed that Riley’s Forensics Center is a massive bloat of fat situated to provide services in 2052 and enormously overdesigned and overbuilt for 2020’s needs.
- Riley was largely responsible for the unpopular TX-249 Tollway Extension, also known as the “Decimation of Hope Highway,” a $99 million, 3.1 mile road, which is the costliest road per mile in American history. The Tollway is losing money, according to the independent auditors who examined it.
Therefore, to answer Johnson’s question, i.e., when will the Commissioners be responsible with County tax dollars, the answer is rather straightforward:
- #1, voters need to wake up and either get rid of Commissioner Riley in the 2022 election or send him the message that he needs to stop wasting money.
- #2, Montgomery County desperately needs to go to a “unit road system,” such as those in Fort Bend County or Comal County, where individual County Commissioners don’t oversee their own Precinct’s roads but rather a unit road department implements economies of scale to coordinate all road projects at a much lower price to taxpayers. By taking the road function away from County Commissioners, Montgomery County would end the terrible cycle of vendor political contributions utilized by county vendors to buy lucrative contracts at the expense of the taxpayers.
- #3, implement a strict rule County Commissioners may not vote to approve contracts with County government vendors whose employees or principals gave political contributions to the County Commissioner during the preceding 4-year period. (Where is the Montgomery County Ethics Commission?!)