Montgomery County commissioners appointed 10 nominees to the board of the county’s newly established ethics commission during the regular court session Nov. 12.
The establishment of the county ethics commission was made possible by the passage of House Bill 1495, which was authored by state Rep. Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands, and signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott in June. County commissioners approved the creation of the new ethics commission, which will oversee the county's ethics policies and procedures, at the Oct. 8 meeting.
Five of the 10 ethics commission board members appointed Nov. 12 were named by the commissioners and County Judge Mark Keough. Those appointments included Amanda Whittington, Keough’s nominee; Nancy Mikeska, nominated by Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Meador; Anne Sundquist, nominated by Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley; Casey Loring, nominated by Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack; and Brian Stanley, nominated by Precinct 4 Commissioner James Metts.
The remaining five members were nominated by several county agencies prior to receiving commissioners’ approval. Bill Dornbos and Tony Fuller were nominated by the Civil Service Commission, and Francis Bourgeois and Charles John McBride were nominated by the Dispute Resolution Center. The Montgomery County Bar Association, which can nominate only one member for the ethics commission, submitted two names—Adam Looney and Janet Speilvogel—for consideration by the court.
“If you notice on this list the first four they have sent to us, so we accept those,” Keough said. “There’s a choice between the bottom two, and in my opinion, I would nominate Janet Speilvogel from the Montgomery County Bar Association.”
Commissioners unanimously approved the selection of Speilvogel and the first four submitted nominees to fill out the 10-seat ethics commission board. The new commission members' terms will run from 2020 through 2021. According to the Oct. 8 resolution approving the nominations, the commission will hold its first meeting Jan. 6.
Commissioners also approved spending for two flood mitigation projects submitted by the county's emergency management office during the Nov. 12 meeting. The first initiative, budgeted for $59,800, was the development of a flood mitigation assistance project grant application by Hagerty Consulting, Inc. If the grant is approved, the county would be allowed to purchase dozens of homes that are frequently affected by flooding.
“We did this same application after 2016 with another consulting company. We were successfully awarded that grant,” said Darren Hess, director of the Montgomery County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. “If we’re successfully awarded this grant opportunity, we’ll recoup that [$59,800].”
The second approved initiative, budgeted at $375,000, allows Hagerty to conduct countywide flood damage inspections in the wake of Tropical Storm Imelda and would bring the county in compliance with national flood insurance program regulations.
“This is a mandate from that program, that we have to go out and do these substantial damage safety inspections on flooded properties,” Hess said. “It’s a requirement, it’s an unfunded mandate. The original request was a little over $1.2 million ... We’ve reduced the number of site inspections down considerably, so our current ask is $375,000.”
Commissioners unanimously authorized the property assessments, which are projected to be completed within one month of the start of inspections, according to Hagerty.
The court will next meet on Nov. 15 to canvass the results of the Nov. 5 constitutional amendment election. The next regular commissioners court session is scheduled for Nov. 19.