TWO TEA PARTIES AND A BOND DEAL

Did County Judge favor PAC because they were  easier target?

County Judge uses Political Consultant to initiate talks with MCTP then cuts them out

Political Consultant calls meeting at County Judge Office

Chief of Staff not utilized

PAC with-held deal information from MCTP for a week

Some discord between parties

08/31/2015

County Citizen learned form a reliable source that members of MCTP were held out of ongoing  secret talks between Commissioners Court Operatives and the Patriots PAC related to the desire of both Tea parties to have a revised road bond on the November 2015 election ballot, in particular because MCTP deals points were more demanding that those of Patriots PAC.

News of a “DEAL” broke on Friday August 21st, followed by a Courier Editorial Politics, road bond battle match unlikely bedfellows August 23rd, Commissioners Court met in a special session August 23rd and then Patriots PAC response to Courier editorial August 24th.

Below are questions and comments offered by  MCTP co-founder John Wertz.

County Citizen

On Sunday (8/23), the Conroe Courier published an editorial article  suggesting back room deals by the Patriot PAC organization.  Is that really true?

John Wertz(MCTP – Co-Founder MCTP, Vetting Committee Chair).

It’s partially true, where the PAC is concerned.  They were approached by the courts surrogate Mark Davenport on August 11th, to do a deal.  Instead of contacting us right away, as had been decided at a previous meeting of groups and individuals working with MCTP and the PAC, the PAC actually sat on it for the better part of a week.  That is, until we got wind of it at our MCTP regular meeting on August 17th that something was going down.  It so happened that Davenport was there at our meeting and so I confronted him about it.  He would neither confirm nor deny it, but was visibly upset that they’d been caught.  He started texting people right away.

County Citizen

Who tipped you off?  How did they know?

Wertz

Sorry, sworn to secrecy.  You’re right, we’d probably never known.  Very underhanded.

 

 County Citizen

What was Montgomery County Tea Party’s part in this and how long have you been involved?

 Wertz

Fellow MCTP Co-founder and former Oak Ridge No. City Councilman Larry Rogers and I formed an ad-hoc transportation committee a couple of years ago, to keep our group informed on developments around the county, such as the So. County Mobility Study.  When we found out that our researcher, Ken Vaughn, we tried to get him in the So. County Mobility Study Group through Commissioner Noack.  As an expert, chairing an international board of transportation standards, he ( Vaughn ) would’ve been the most qualified of anyone serving on that committee.  We were denied.

 County Citizen

So what is your position now and how did you get involved with the group opposing the road bond and who did the group consist of.

 Wertz

I’m Vetting Committee Chair (but no longer on the board, as we like to get others involve, who’re willing to work).  As noted, we’d been monitoring the progress of the Mobility Study.  One night, I got a call from former state Rep. Steve Toth, asking if I wanted to participate on a steering committee to look into this bond further and work with Gordy Bunch to defeat it, knowing he’d just come out against it, based primarily on opposition to Woodlands Parkway Extension(WPX), a developer road. 

 County Citizen

Who made up the group?

 Wertz

It was actually a good cross section of talent:

Bill O’Sullivan – Patriots PAC Treasurer

Gordy Bunch – Township Director and Road Bond Committeeman, who was the only one opposing the bond.

Steve Toth – former state representative.  He brought the legislative experience to bear.

Ken Vaughn, PE – transportation expert and MCTP board chair.

Laura Fillault – Process Engineer and Indian Springs Village Association Member

Penny Benbow – Rayford Road Corridor; Bender’s Landing HOA

Moi ( John Wertz ) – Oil & Gas Technical Sales and Recruiting

 Steve headed up our debate team, that also consisted of engineers Ken and Laura. Every time we debated the other side (Nelda Blair , County Judge Doyal, Joe Michaels and Jason Millsaps), we mopped the floor with them.  That team participated in a variety of events went along way to the bond’s defeat.  Funny thing is, the Courier to this day hasn’t recognized Ken Vaughn or his expertise.

 County Citizen

Is there bias against those that opposed the bond?

 Wertz

No, not really.  It just seemed to be the fact that Ken was with the MCTP.  Catherine Dominguez, who covers the political beat most of the time, chooses to ignore us in every situation

 County Citizen

OK,  What was the basis for your arguments in the online comments at the Courier?

 Wertz

The whole thing, according to Ken, was a backward way of doing things, hence our “patchwork” descriptor.  The whole county should’ve been studied, instead of just the Pct. 3 area that Noack wisely did.  With that document, he then had a “plan”, which he could take to the H-GAC (Houton Galverston Area Council) to apply for federal and state matching dollars.  At MCTP, we took the individual precinct lists and went out to see each road listed on ththeir lists.  The result was we came up with our famous pie-chart, which illustrated that the bond consisted on of 60% pork, including $80 million in Maintenance and Operations (a category that should be paid for by our taxes, and never in a bond).  Between that and the repulsion by the Woodlands residents against WPX led to the demise of the bond.

 County Citizen

What happened after the election?  It was apparent that your group was pushing for a reduced bond this November rather than no bond at all.

 Wertz

Yes, we’ve attended every court session, as well as letters-to-the editor, since the election to help the court to get this on the ballot.  Actually, their surrogate, Mark Davenport approached me through another MCTP board member, just after the election.

 County Citizen

What was that all about?  The word out there is that you were unreasonable to deal with. What’s behind that?

 Wertz

(Laughs) Well, he approached us and asked what we wanted.  I told him personally, I wanted the following:

1.  A Financial Statement, with Cash Flow on it so that we know how much actual cash we could apply to M&O.

2.  An integrated countywide M&O list, ranked and sorted, so we could apply the cash flow indicated in No. 1.

3.  I also conveyed WPX was a non-starter.

4.  And finally, I pointed him to our website repository write up on the bond at USVoteSmart.org.  It listed what we wanted at MCTP.

 I then reported that back to Gordy’s group.  Interestingly, they suggested and we all agreed to not interact with anyone else, from here on out, unless a commissioner was involved.

 County Citizen

Wait, that’s all that Davenport had against you as being unreasonable? According to the article, didn’t Davenport call Bill O’Sullivan?

 Wertz

Yes, that’s it.  Regarding Bill O’Sullivan, one of our board members gave Davenport Bill O’Sullivan’s number.  At that point, per the agreement above, O’Sullivan should have engaged the rest of us.  He didn’t.  In fact, the PAC unfortunately sat on it for piratically a full week before we were engaged.  Had someone not tipped us off at our MCTP meeting on Monday (8/17) as to something going down, we may have never known something was going down.  Why would we?   Fortunately, Davenport was at our meeting with one of his candidates.  So I went to confront him about it.  He would neither confirm nor deny it.  The next morning, Ken Vaughn finally got a call, a full week after the PAC was brought in the loop, with an MOU (Memo of Understanding), as well as Penny Benbow, Gordy Bunch and Steve Toth.  This was only days before Friday, when the Special Meeting needed to be called.

 County Citizen

That seems like the PAC was going around you guys, against what you agreed upon.  What did you think about that?  Were they just trying to grab the headlines?

 Wertz

It sure has the appearances of that but you really need to ask O’Sullivan.  It was especially disappointing, since O’Sullivan was at the meeting when everyone decided not to do what the PAC did. Up to that point, we’d all been working pretty well.

County Citizen

Bill O’Sullivan justified the secrecy of the recent negotiations as being a trust issue?

Wertz

Trust issue?  That’s ironic, as the group(MCTP, PAC, etc.) opposing the bond agreed to work together to the end, as agreed to in a meeting on or about 5/20/15.  Except, the PAC was contacted by Mark Davenport, the court’s surrogate (8/11) but the MCTP wasn’t involved until someone other than the PAC gave us a heads-up (8/17) on the on-going negotiations between the PAC and the Court’s surrogate.  MCTP wasn’t contacted until the next morning 8/18, just days before the deadline to call a Special Election and the negotiations were already practically concluded.  Trust?  Hmmm.

County Citizen

Ok, So when did you first meet with Doyal or his surrogate Davenport?

Wertz

Speaking only for myself, the 1st meeting requested by Davenport, through Bob Bagley, was on or about May 19th, 4th floor of and after commissioners’ court.
The only people at the 4th floor meeting were Bagly, Davenport and me. No one else was present.

As noted, I asked for and they said they had in the works:

1.  Cash flow avaliable for M&O (they never came up with that and MD pretended like I didn’t ask it;

2.  Provide an integrated countywide M&O list.  Again, said they were working on it for two months, but provided nothing, despite my pleas over and over again in practically every court session to move for a plan.

3. No WPX

4.  Directed them to go to USVoteSmart.org for the rest of the plan.

 As I said, the court wanted me/us out of the picture because we were driving a harder bargain.

 County Citizen

None of this is mentioned in the Courier, it sure seems like the PAC has a more favorable relationship with the Courier.

 Wertz

That’s a fair observation.

County Citizen

This whole deal looks like it was concocted in a cigar-filled back room.  What do you say?

Wertz

Considering the way this went down the last 10 days, it certainly came across that way.  At MCTP, and particularly Ken, we’d been pushing for open meetings all along.  As a matter of fact, in their diversifying of meeting locations for outreach, the PAC had summer meetings in Magnolia and Montgomery.  We were of the understanding that these would be public input meetings.  Ken even prepared a PowerPoint presentation.  But once Julie Turner found out about it, we fell off the agenda.

County Citizen

Why would Julie Turner do that?

Wertz

You’d have to ask her her motives.

 County Citizen

You indicated that MCTP has come out with their opinion on this new bond

 Wertz

Yes they have.  It has the points I raised above, as well as others.  You may want to reach out to them for a copy.

 County Citizen

Thanks for your time.

Wertz

Any time.  Thanks for your interest in getting the facts out there.

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