Collin County Politics: Money, Money, Money

April 20, 2021

Commissioners Court: Fiscal responsibility was on their minds this week as all of the commissioners besides Duncan Webb (who’s the least worst) believe they’re there to save taxpayer dollars instead of providing services. First up was the ERAP program (federal funds from the American Rescue Plan for apartment rental assistance). This program hasn’t been utilized much but they’re checking to make sure no double payments are occurring. Given the level of hardship in North Texas, it’s difficult to believe a lot of people aren’t in need of rental assistance but the commissioners don’t seem concerned. True public servants would worry that their efforts to publicize this program aren’t good enough or that people may not be receiving the help they need to fill out paperwork. But no, these people are just concerned that double payments aren’t happening.

Next up was a modification of annual agreement between the Healthcare Foundation and the Samaritan Inn (finally, an inkling as to what the Healthcare Foundation actually does!). The change they wanted to make was a good one that would ensure Samaritan Inn is able to use all of their funds. However, Susan Fletcher wanted to make certain residents were using their private health insurance before the county money kicks in. It’s simply amazing how these people are way more concerned about others somehow “gaming” the system and getting more than they’re due instead of guaranteeing everyone gets their basic needs met. So selfish.

Then there was the commissioner’s desire for a resolution supporting HB749 and SB 234 that prohibit taxpayer-funded lobbying. Texas Republicans are all over this, including Angela Paxton and Dan Patrick. Their support should tell you all you need to know about how terrible these bills are for the common good. Taxpayer-funded lobbying is when local governments—such as cities, counties, and school districts—use taxpayer money to hire lobbyists. While taxpayer-funded lobbying may sound bad, the alternative is for local officials to express their policy views and feedback directly to state officials, just as citizens do. In other words, local governments wouldn’t be able to lobby legislators effectively while industry lobbyists would have free rein. Thus, Empower Texans could lobby to their heart’s desire while your local school district’s voice would be muted. This isn’t acceptable.

Fletcher’s concern was that counties should be able to belong to associations that stay abreast of events in Austin so they can know when to speak out. Although she’s against taxpayer-funded lobbying (because she assumes it’s against taxpayer interests which oftentimes it isn’t), she still wants to make sure the county has influence. Such a typical Republican sentiment: this is terrible for others but we need our power. Webb was the only commissioner who disagreed. He pointed out that lobbyists tend to get legislators’ attention way more than individuals do. He claimed Paul Bettencourt (author of SB1879) will take a lobbyist’s call before Webb’s. Hill pushed back on this because he’s an ass. Unlike Fletcher though, Webb refused to back down.

Finally, we heard the disturbing news that Collin County has moved from serious to severe in the EPA’s ozone designation. Ozone season began in March. We’re close to meeting the 2008 standard but not even near meeting the more recent 2015 standards, which is why our air is now ranked as SEVERE. This is about the air we breathe and it was tacked onto the end of the meeting, almost as an after-thought! I have no words.

Collin College: The situation is so awful that the Chronicle of Higher Education just published a lengthy negative article about college president Neil Matkin. President of the Board of Trustees Bob Collins didn’t come off well either. He crowed about the Board being mostly conservative although they’re trying to convert the liberal members as fast as possible (wink, wink). Yuck! The stench of Good Ole Boy is strong in this one. I’m privileged to know one of those excellent liberal members and can assure you he’ll have no luck converting her. Collins also continued singing Matkin’s praises although he’s clearly terrible for both faculty and students. Matkin is culturally insensitive, authoritarian, and unpleasant.

It seems obvious that the only reason he’s there is because conservative Board members think Matkin’s good for the bottom line. It’s worth reminding them that Collin College is not a private business but a public institution of higher education. Not everything is about money and these guys need to get that message. We have the opportunity to make changes in the Board of Trustees this election. Please vote for Helen Chang, Misty Irby (running against Collins), and Jacoby Stewart.

Parker City Council: Three seats are up for election this cycle. Since all are At-Large positions, the three candidates with the most votes will win. As such, it’s important to have a strategy for how to reward the best candidates. Although there aren’t any liberal candidates in ruby-red Parker, the two candidates who care most about the city and all its citizens are Dr. Diana Abraham and Ed Standridge. In order to maximize votes for these two, just vote for the two of them in that race.

We particularly don’t wish to see Cindy Meyer re-elected. When two Parker citizens asked to donate a Little Free Library to the city, Ms. Meyer launched into a racist and anti-LBGTQ rant. Her problem was that the Little Free Library website runs a Read in Color program that distributes books incorporating perspectives on racism and social justice and celebrating BIPOC, LGBTQ, and other marginalized voices. In other words, Meyer objected to inclusivity. The council voted to accept the gift from the citizens but only if they built the Library Box themselves and had nothing to do with the Little Free Library. I hope the citizens of Parker decide they want nothing to do with Meyer.

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