The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
The Woodlands, November 15 – Several Woodlands residents harshly criticized the Woodlands Township Board of Directors over its handling of the November 2 incorporation referendum during the Board’s November 12, 2021, meeting. In response, a stuttering and obviously nervous Township Chairman Richard Finley “Gordy” Bunch, III, spoke very defensively in attempting to respond to some of the accusations leveled against him and the pro-incorporation members of the Board.
More than 68% of Woodlands voters rejected incorporation as a city government in a relatively high turnout election, particularly for the off-year election when Bunch and four of his colleagues called the election.
Bunch spoke in a series of statements. “We didn’t spend $3 million on the incorporation study…It’s not true that we accumulated $100 million by overtaxing residents…You haven’t been overtaxed…It was not part of our financial model to lower the tax rate by using reserves…Social media is the devil…I’m not up here to enrich myself and I’m personally offended when people ascribe some financial motives.”
Neither Bunch nor any of the Township Board members were willing to acknowledge the very loud message Woodlands residents sent to the Board in rejecting incorporation of The Woodlands as a city government by more than two to one, a clear tidal wave of voter dissatisfaction with the pro-government direction Bunch and his Board colleagues had gone during the past six years.
Woodlands voters, many of whom moved to The Woodlands to get away from city governments, voted in a tidal wave against incorporation and sent messages that (1) they want a 20% homestead exemption and (2) they reject Bunch’s and his allies’ anti-business, pro-Big-Government sentiments.
To thunderous applause, Woodlands resident Linda Anthony said, “I’m concerned that the ballot is only a symptom of the problem. And in actuality, The Woodlands Township has already been annexed by the Board. We just haven’t changed the name yet to Boardville or Bunchville. But you’re acting like a powerful mayor and city council. You’ve raised the taxes over the years to gain a $100 million in excess. You set aside $20 million of taxes for incorporation. You had transition plans with the county for incorporation.”
Anthony continued while brandishing an organization chart for the governance of the Woodlands Township showing the constituents at the top of the chart: “Just as you would expect people beneath you to step aside if they were not following your orders, so the constituents on this org chart, the people of The Woodlands, would request that the Board member leadership aligned so strongly with an incorporation model would please step aside, so the citizens can fill the vacancies with other Township people who interested in representing a true Township governance model.”
Anthony also commented, “Many Woodlands residents are doing a quick study of how the Board has taken such singular control of our Township government…All Woodlands residents agreement is that their idea for government is for a transparent, ethical, and accountable government…This Board forced the incorporation issue on the off-year ballot in the last minute. In addition to using taxpayer money and resources in the promotion of the incorporation propaganda narrative, with no mention of additional opinions or relevant facts. Most egregiously, an Open Records Act request found that the Board spent at least $79,000 hiring a campaign group called Cooksey Strategic Communications for the campaign. This is something no one can feel good about. The grassroots efforts of all the citizens quickly grouped together using our personal time, contributing personal money, to enable an awareness of our fellow citizens as to what was going on…Here in The Woodlands we had a 20% turnout of angry citizens who handed a resounding 70 to 30 vote against incorporation. We the People have clearly sent our instructions to the Board: don’t incorporate; stop planning and spending our tax dollars on incorporation.”
Another resident, Alan Douglas, said, “You have overfunded taxes by over $100 million. You spent $3 million and squandered them for a scam. We told you people we do not want to incorporate. I don’t know how much clearer we need to make it to you people. The only recourse I see is for everyone of you who voted for it is to resign. We have no confidence in any of you. It’s a scam. It’s a shame what you’ve done in trying to destroy this community and incorporated like all of these other big cities around the country. You’re going to squander our money. 16,000 have told you ‘no.’ I hope you get the message, including you, Gordy.”
Ted Stanley, one of the leaders of the Township Future PAC, which opposed the incorporation referendum, very quietly said, “We see members of this board exchanging barbs with county personnel on social media. We see longtime public servants of our community disrespecting each other and calling names. We see volunteers at the polls threatening other volunteers over the possible outcome of the election. This is not who we are…Mr. Chairman, the time as come for us to focus on the work of the community. The residents have spoken in a very loud and clear voice that they do not want to incorporate the community, not now or in the foreseeable future. More residents voted against incorporation than voted against the road bond in 2015. With this resounding vote, you have heard the voice of the residents…Since incorporation is not happening, it is within your power to offer a homestead exemption for all residents…Let’s explore the possibility of lower taxes in general…It’s time to drop this cause.”
Several other residents spoke similarly. The Board did enjoy one pro-incorporation sycophant’s comments.