Conroe, June 24 – With Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner James Noack on vacation and Precinct 4 County Commissioners Court Jim Clark ill but still in attendance, Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, and Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador went on a spending spree unfettered. Despite their election as Republicans, the five-member Commissioners Court displayed a voting record that made one wonder if Nancy Pelosi (D-California) was leading the proceedings.
The Golden Hammer‘s rating system follows the Platform of the Republican Party of Texas. The Republican Party just adopted a new Platform on June 17, 2018. If you’re interested in reading the entire Platform, here’s the link to it: https://www.texasgop.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Report2-of-2018-Permanent-Platform-Resolutions-Committee.pdf. In order to assist the members of the Commissioners Court, particularly those three or so who have obviously never read the Platform of the Republican Party of Texas on which they ran for office, this newspaper will begin to refer to the appropriate Platform Plank for each item on the Commissioners Court Agenda which this newspaper rates.
One Republican Party Platform Plank is particularly germane to The Golden Hammer‘s ratings, Plank 144, the first sentence of which provides:
“144. Government Spending: Government Spending is out of control at the federal, state, and local levels, and action is needed.”
The editorial staff of this newspaper sincerely hopes that Plank 144 is simple enough that even the members of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court might understand it.
The Golden Hammer‘s ratings measure Commissioners Court votes that affect spending in comparison to the provisions of the Republican Party of Texas Platform. Points are good. The number of points depends upon the amount of money involved in each vote.
Commissioners Court meeting, June 12, 2018, 9:30 a.m. All Court members, with the exception of Noack, were physically present.
The only positive event at the meeting was that, for a change, Doyal treated Clark with some common courtesy. (Perhaps, Doyal received a copy of Amy Vanderbilt’s book on Etiquette for his birthday.)
Vote #1: Approved spending $14.4 million without any oversight by any member of the Commissioners Court. Violates Platform Plank 144. Major vote. 25 points. Passed unanimously. All get 0 points.
Vote #2: Approved budget amendments claiming there is a “grave necessity” and “emergency” for 20 departments. The amendments involved more than $12 million of spending. There was no oversight. Violates Platform Plank 144. Major vote. 25 points. Passed unanimously. All get 0 rating points.
Vote #3: Approved supposedly completed audits from the County Auditor. None of the audits were part of the agenda or the backup materials. The Commissioners Court approved audits which they never saw. Violates Plank 144. 10 points. Passed unanimously. All get 0 points.
Vote #4: Approved over $7.4 million of purchasing decisions without discussion or oversight. Several of the purchasing proposals were not even attached to the Agenda, so the Commissioners Court approved contracts which they never reviewed. Violates Plank 144. 25 points. Passed unanimously. All get 0 points.
Vote #5: Approved bylaws change for the County Airport. Once again, the Airport Maintenance Department and Assistant County Attorney B.D. Griffin failed to make the bylaws changes available to the Commissioners Court for their review before they voted to approve them. They passed the bylaws changes anyway. Give them something on which to vote and they’ll approve it! 10 points. Passed unanimously. Violates Plank 144. All get 0 points.
Vote #6: Animal Shelter. The Commissioners Court voted to offer veterinary positions at a higher salary than the present salaries for the vacancies. Although this decision involved spending some money, it will actually save money by providing staff to help to move the animals out of the shelter more quickly into permanent homes. The Sage, Bill O’Sullivan, made that point during a citizen comment. 10 points. Passed unanimously. Clark, Doyal, Meador, and Riley all get 10 rating points.
Vote #7: Amend Wild Animal Control Ordinance to permit private park in East Montgomery County to have alligators and crocodiles on display. As long as the animals are secure inside of cages, who cares? Passed unanimously. Has nothing to do with GOP Platform. No rating.
Votes #8 to 18: Approve road and bridge purchasing decisions. All of these approvals involved road projects that the voters had previously approved. Therefore, The Golden Hammer does not question the propriety of the projects themselves. The problem here is that there is no contract oversight whatsoever to determine whether the County received a fair price on the projects. The six new engineering contracts didn’t involve competitive bidding. There were two change orders to previous contracts which should have received very strict scrutiny of the pricing. Of course, the Commissioners Court approved all of these contracts blindly. Major vote. 25 points. All receive 0 points.
All four of the Commissioners Court members in attendance received 10 rating points out of a total of 105, which is a failing score.
The following are the cumulative scores for Fiscal Year 2018, which began October 1, 2017.
DOYAL -1,815/8,089. Grade F.
MEADOR -470/8,089. Grade F.
RILEY -470/8,089. Grade F.
NOACK 6,761/8,089. Grade B.
CLARK 7,395/8,089. Grade A-.
The citizens must remain vigilant.