This story keeps getting more interesting by the day. Catherine Dominguez of the Montgomery County Courier:
Montgomery County Attorney J D Lambright believes that the Commissioners Court meeting Aug. 24 and vote to place a $280 million road bond on the November ballot would be upheld in civil court.
On Friday, the County Judge’s Office released a seven-page opinion issued by the County Attorney’s Office addressing the meeting and vote. It did not address the criminal investigation into whether certain members of Commissioners Court and other individuals possibly violated the Texas Open Meetings Act prior to the special meeting and vote.
“It is our strongly held opinion that the action of Commissioners Court in calling the November 3 Road Bond Election complied with TOMA and was lawfully made,” the opinion stated. “As a result, we find no basis in law or in fact (including the furnished email) that would provide for the Commissioners Court’s action setting the election to be voided or subject to either mandamus or injunction.”
As investigations into the validity of the $280 million Montgomery County road bond set for this November’s ballot are underway, The Woodlands Township is taking heat from some residents who believe the board’s decision to publicly oppose the bond last week was premature.
“The facts concerning this investigation are not even out yet,” said Penny Benbow, a resident from the east side of South County, at the board’s meeting Wednesday.
“This bond affects everybody on the east side of 45. We need these roads for our infrastructure – we’re growing like crazy,” Benbow said at the Feb. 25 meeting. “I’m almost in tears to think that the extension of Woodlands Parkway could keep this bond from moving forward.”
She returned to Wednesday’s meeting to speak on behalf of this revised bond, which does not include the Woodlands Parkway extension, and to ask The Woodlands to return the favor that other South County residents who voted against the May bond did for them.
“Rayford Road now is in gridlock, motor vehicle accidents are a daily occurrence,” she added. “To fix it, we need this bond … Your neighbors stood by you in May, now it’s time for you to stand by your neighbors.”
Chuck Meyer, vice president of the Panther Creek Village Association and a candidate for The Woodlands Township Board, took a more aggressive approach to rebuking the board for its resolution against the bond.
“I’m in the sad position of having lost respect for this institution,” he said at Wednesday’s meeting. “Many county residents see (The Woodlands) as spoiled, petulant and arrogant … We need to work with our county leadership and our fellow residents in the county – not throw them under the bus.”
It appears that proponents and opponents are divided by geography more than anything else. The perception now appears to be that those that live exceptionally wealthy, leafy Woodlands Township don’t want their taxes to go up in order to benefit the proletariat in the other parts of the county. When I first read about the possibility of an investigation about this bond election, I was fairly sure it was a no-go. Knowing how Texas voters, particularly suburban voters, vote down anything that brings up visions of “back room deals,” I didn’t have much hope. However, it’s certainly possible that traffic is so bad, so absolutely awful that voters are willing to stomach it. The coalitions forming in this case are interesting, and to be sure the Woodlands Township certainly has major sway; however, their influence may not be enough to counter the desire by others in the county to fix a problem that’s quickly getting worse.