Montgomery County is well known for its corrupt politicians and colorful politics. However, the “good ol’ boys” regime that has ruled the county for decades is perilously close to crashing down, in part due to the tremendous efforts of a man who has served as a catalyst for reform: Eric Yollick.
While Yollick, an attorney from The Woodlands, has become a very effective grassroots activist, he is also a genuinely interesting individual who has displayed a unique approach to activism; generating a firestorm of controversy and bringing down the wrath of the political establishment in the process.
For Yollick, fighting for limited government has been a lifelong passion:
“At the age of six, I became a taxpayer and have continued to pay a lot of taxes ever since that time, because local, state, and federal governments never relented, even around the holidays… I don’t accept funds or services from the government. I’m embarrassed when I enter air-conditioned or heated government buildings and utilize some of the government-treated air within them.”
Yollick became well known on the Montgomery County political scene in the 90s, founding an activist organization called the Republican Leadership Council after the local GOP’s failure to champion Republican priorities under the county’s party chairman Wally Wilkerson. It was during this time he picked up a “Bum Steer Award” from the ultra-liberal Texas Monthly, and earned the nickname “the bulldog” (he ended up keeping a large bulldog statue at his law office for years).
In 2003, Yollick was appointed to the Montgomery County Hospital Board, where he worked to cut waste and handouts, even opening an umbrella during one meeting and shouting, “the sky is falling!” to mock another board member’s opposition to cutting benefits for illegal aliens. Yollick resigned fifteen minutes after he pushed the board to pass a slimmed down budget in 2006, saying that his work was finished.
For about a decade, Yollick was less present on the political scene, instead climbing mountains in places like Russia and Nepal. He has ascended two of the world’s seven summits, and is on a quest to climb the highest point in all 50 states. However, an injury put a halt to his climbing for a time.
After a brief and unsuccessful run for a district judge position, Yollick reemerged as a formidable activist and set to the task of reforming Montgomery County government.
He started with the animal shelter, where dysfunctional leadership had run off volunteers and left the shelter a literal mess with a high kill rate. He shined a spotlight on the problems, and working with Commissioner James Noack and some other activists, was able to turn the shelter around into a much cleaner place with a low kill rate.
Yollick can be seen at every session of the Montgomery County Commissioners court handing out his notorious “Golden Hammer Award” to commissioners or department heads who are “hammering the taxpayers”. During citizen comment, Yollick gives a three-minute presentation detailing the various actions of waste and abuse which earned the official the award before handing them a golden spray painted hammer. He has also presented a golden sledgehammer and a golden ice axe.
To serve as a platform for his activism, he created a website, The Golden Hammer, where he publishes articles every day chronicling the latest corruption and waste by county officials. Yollick is continually pouring over public record requests, looking for anything amiss, and has created a covert network of disaffected county employees who provide him information. Through his various controversies, he has amassed a sizable social media following through which he disseminates his findings.
Most recently, Yollick was responsible for organizing a Citizens’ Budget Committee. Yollick and the committee, composed of ordinary taxpayers, spent months pouring over the proposed county budget, looking for spending to cut, and producing their own new budget, which they presented to commissioners during the budget hearings.
Yollick is a voracious reader, with a personal library consisting of thousands of volumes. He cites John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, and Robert Nozick as his main influences, although his eclectic reading has also encompassed such works as “Mau-mauing the Flak Catchers”. He is fluent in Latin, and has read the entire New Testament in Greek.
He is also a Lego enthusiast, with half the second story of his house being occupied by his creations, and an avid barefoot jogger. Yollick is involved with numerous charitable organizations, and is a life member of the World Toilet Organization.
“I’m singularly focused on reducing government spending in the Montgomery County budget,” Yollick says on The Golden Hammer, “Government should be the last resort to solve societal problems, including in our home community of Montgomery County.”