Wasting Tax Dollars, Part 1: Sylvia Olszowy’s government through intimidation

County government secretary Sylvia Olszowy (left) with her boss Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal (right).

Conroe, October 28 – Power-crazed secretary Sylvia Olszowy, who works for Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal, costs Montgomery County taxpayers many thousands of dollars, if not a lot more, in performing what should be a very simple function: putting the Commissioners Court Meeting Agenda together every two weeks. Olszowy (salary $57,027.10, plus approximately $22,981.92 benefits, totaling about $80,009.02) spends enormous time standing around Doyal’s office doing nothing and glaring at people who dare approach her.

More than three dozen County employees, on condition of anonymity, confirmed they’re afraid of Olszowy’s explosive temper and her rude retorts to them when they ask her for help merely in submitting agenda items for the Commissioners Court Agenda. In reality, Olszowy, who didn’t return attempts to reach her for this story, has cost taxpayers a lot of money and continues to do so.

How the Commissioners Court Agenda comes together

Under the Texas Open Meetings Act, which Doyal and Riley apparently do not recognize as legal authority to govern their actions, there is a requirement that a governmental body must post the agenda for meetings of the governmental body 72 hours in advance of the meeting. The agenda must be posted outside of the Montgomery County Courthouse and filed with the County Clerk. The Commissioners Court also makes the agenda available online through the County website.

In order to comply with the Open Meetings Act posting requirement, at least the other three members of the Commissioners Court require that the entire Court post the agenda by the Friday before the Tuesday Commissioners Court meeting. Usually, Doyal’s secretaries, Patti Werner and Sylvia Olszowy, complete the agenda by approximately 4 p.m. on Friday afternoon.

Doyal’s County Judge office requests that County Departments submit agenda items to them for inclusion on the agenda by the Wednesday before the Court meeting at 10 a.m. Since the Destiny Host computer program permits Department heads to post their own draft agenda items, there is not problem with that process.

The problem arises with a deadline five (5) hours later for Departments to submit the backup materials for attachment to the agenda, for which Doyal and Olszowy require submission to them by 3 p.m. the Wednesday before the meeting. Olszowy enforces that rule quite strictly unless the County Department director is a close political ally of Doyal’s. For example, County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport has submitted items for attachment to the agenda as late as Friday morning. Other members of the Davenport Ring, the group of politicians who work for corrupt political boss Marc Davenport, generally may submit their agenda items to Olszowy late.

So far, so good (other than a bit of favoritism and corruption).

The problem arises

The problem arises, however, with an arbitrary rule the headstrong Olszowy has imposed. She will absolutely not accept electronic submissions of the backup materials. County Departments may not, under the Olszowy Rule, email or otherwise electronically transmit the backup materials for their agenda items, because Olszowy refuses to take the trouble to print those items at her office.

The Olszowy Rule has resulted in three ridiculous options. First, some County Departments just don’t take the trouble to submit the backup material for their Commissioners Court Agenda items at all, so the public and Commissioners Court members never have the opportunity to review those items before, during, or after Commissioners Court meetings. The resulting secrecy from Montgomery County citizens probably garners Olszowy praise from her secretive boss Doyal.

Secondly, some Departments will send an employee to the Sadler Administration Building’s 4th Floor where they must genuflect before Olszowy and hand deliver her a paper copy of the backup material. Not only is this process inconvenient but also it’s time consuming and expensive to the taxpayers who will lose the services of County Department representatives for several hours each week just so they can drive to Olszowy and hand her papers that could easily transmit through email.

The third option, which seems most ironic is that many County Departments, especially those in New Caney, The Woodlands, and Magnolia, which are a healthy distance from Olszowy’s office, regularly email the backup material to a “more friendly” County Department in the Sadler Administration Building with the request that the people in the receiving department deliver the materials in paper form to the difficult Olszowy.

What waste!

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