Collin County Politics: Awards Edition

December 28, 2021

Most Persistent, Deadly, and Annoying Disease: Covid19

It’s been quite a ride. We went from being terrified of getting the ‘Rona to being desperate to get one of the vaccines. The government of Collin County itself (aka the Commissioner’s Court) demonstrated its overwhelming incompetence when asked to provide vaccines for residents. Vaccine delivery was inconsistent and frustrating even after the Allen Fire Department stepped up and showed everyone how it should be done. How many of us spent hours online searching for vaccine availability, continually putting in our family’s names for waitlists, and then anxiously waiting? Yet the commissioners still crow about what a great job they did. There’s a term for that and it’s called gaslighting. Don’t fall for it. Winner of the Let’s Get It Done Award: Allen Fire Department for their foresight, organization, and determination to serve their community.

Despite our fear and desperation, Collin County schools returned to in-person instruction, mostly without mask mandates in place. Several pushed back though and 2021 saw numerous lawsuits against Governor Greg Abbott by frantic parents and various school districts in an effort to protect our children. Many school boards weren’t honest about the rate of positive Covid cases on their campuses and kept quiet about the consequences. Substitutes were incredibly hard to find, many students had their education disrupted as they were shuffled from classroom to classroom, and those who were immunocompromised or had family members to protect ended up being home-schooled or fighting for appropriate accommodations. Winner of the Momma Bear Award: Kelly Karthik (running for FISD) who led a group of 1200 parents in Frisco to sue for greater protection for their children.

School board meetings became a battlefield as parents yelled at each other and at school board trustees over science (pro mask mandates folks) and political misinformation (MAGAts). A few brave school boards implemented mask mandates. Richardson trustees held firm while the Plano school board put one in place for only a few weeks. Despite decreasing cases throughout the district, the majority of the Plano trustees cravenly caved under pressure and removed what was working in an effort to silence the naysayers. Overall, Collin County schools are lucky that our vaccination rate is so high (close to 70%) because that meant we didn’t suffer as high a rate of deaths and infections that we could have. However, school boards need to do a better job of protecting the most vulnerable among us. Winner of the Holding the Line Award: Richardson School Board for suing Abbott to protect their students.

Biggest Baby (and Most Likely to Spread Covid): Chris Hill

There was no competition whatsoever for this award. Collin County Judge Hill (who kind of even looks like a baby) has an astonishing amount of power for someone who knows so little about how a county should be run and is a terrible administrator to boot. Instead of being a role model for public safety, Hill refused to shut down any businesses, instead claiming all are essential. This, by the way, is insulting to those that truly are. He also categorically refused to issue a mask mandate for the county despite some city leaders requesting he do so. If that wasn’t bad enough, Hill paraded maskless around polling locations while he had Covid. There’s no telling how many people he personally infected. Winner of the Trying to Do the Right Thing Despite Bad Bosses Award: McKinney Mayor George Fuller who issued a mask mandate for businesses before Hill and Governor Abbott made him stop.

Although he was elected to represent the interests of those he serves, Hill focuses on his own self-interest and cannot tolerate even the slightest bit of disagreement with him or his policies. He’s pissed off many of the people who work for him (like Sheriff Skinner, Tax Assessor-Collector Kenneth Maun, and numerous judges) and actively set out to embarrass and chastise District Clerk Lynne Finley. He runs his court like a mini fiefdom, limiting transparency and doing whatever he can to restrict citizen input. After numerous protestors for Marvin Scott III (who died terribly in custody at the detention center) spoke at the court for weeks, the commissioners created legally questionable rules for behavior for public speaking and made a show of defending it. Winner of the Getting Under His Skin Award: Joshua Murray (running for County Judge) for his persistence in speaking truth to power and his grace when being unfairly held in contempt of court.

Strongest Wind Beneath Our Wings: Healthcare Providers & Teachers

If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that our community utterly depends on those who take care of our health and education. We literally could not function without them. These noble, highly educated, dedicated, courageous, and selfless people stepped into chaos and crisis and gave it their all. They still are even though they’re exhausted and have been subject to hostility, threats, and sometimes even violence. We owe them so much, including (but not limited to) increased pay and benefits, accessible and affordable counseling – many have or will have PTSD – and the gratitude of us all. Winner of the Holding Steady in the Face of Idiots Award: #FReadom fighters, a small group of Texas librarians dedicated to highlighting the positive work of librarians and speaking out against censorship. They also provide resources for librarians, teachers or authors facing book challenges.

What Were You Thinking Award: Allen Voters

Despite having an incredibly brave, thoughtful, intelligent, and dedicated council member in Lauren Doherty, Allen voters inexplicably voted to replace her with an idiotic guy with a criminal record, Dave Cornette. Allen residents went from having a Princeton graduate with a degree in astrophysics and a heart for service who ably represented their best interests to someone who thinks it’s funny to joke about violence towards Muslims. Cornette and his cronies on the council have minimal knowledge about how government works, so Allen residents may find themselves in a world of hurt sooner rather than later. Winner of the Sarah Weddington Award for Leadership: Lauren Doherty for standing firm in her beliefs despite the consequences. We all would be lucky to be represented by someone like her.

Biggest Bozo: Shelby Williams

This award was hotly contested but I went with Plano City Council’s Shelby Williams for his overall lack of knowledge about how things work, an aggressive disregard for others, and a willingness to kowtow to his GOP overlords. Williams came onto the council as a blowhard wanting nothing beyond keeping taxes low and certain people in their place and he hasn’t changed. He’s opposed apartments, rational city development plans, the Turning Point Rape Crisis Center, and helping the homeless. He lacks compassion and vision, using his religious beliefs as a weapon against people. In a discussion about programs to reduce homelessness, he was against everything except for a hotel for emergency shelter but only if it’s truly used for emergencies and not by people who are “between apartments.” He also wastes a lot of council time asking useless questions, gets into meme flame wars against his constituents when they try to engage in actual conversation, and is sexist and racist in his social media. Winner of the Most Passionate Appeal Award: Plano City Council’s Rick Grady for his tearful speech about the realities of homelessness during a council meeting and for his dedicated work in trying to make sure no one else suffers the indignities of homeless like he did.

Dishonorable Mentions for Biggest Bozo:

  • Frederick Frazier (McKinney City Council) for his refusal to wear a mask, his denial of any need for police improvement, getting into arguments with constituents from the dais, bullying tactics, and his consistent lack of good solutions.
  • Brian Livingston (Frisco City Council) for his refusal to wear a mask and his close association with Kingdom of Life church and its pastor, Brandon Burden, who encouraged violence and the Big Lie.
  • Cody Weaver (Plano School Board) for his refusal to wear a mask and his willfully obtuse yammering around Collin County about Critical Race Theory in schools.

Biggest Advocate for Covid: Dr. Heather Wang

Plano School Board Trustee Dr. Heather Wang has made some amazingly wrong statements just in the last few months. In August, she claimed that wearing a Covid mask gave her heart palpitations. She also suggested, through mortality rate statistics, that parents who inform their children of the potential risks of this pandemic could literally be scaring them to death. In September, she claimed that children don’t wear seatbelts on the bus because there is a very low chance of them dying in an accident, just like Covid-19. She voted against a mask mandate for the district in that same meeting. Defying expectations of an educated person (she has PhDs in German Language and Literature), Wang only makes nonsensical and emotional pleas to get her point across. Winner of the Most Courageous Conduct Award: Richardson Police Officer Kayla Walker put her career on the line to speak out against unethical and harmful policing practices. Despite getting a lot of pushback from some Richardson City Council members (looking at you, Ken Hutchenrider), Officer Walker is bravely trying to change the system from within.

Best Newcomers: Dr. Lauren Tyra & Justin Beller (tie)

Plano School Board Trustee Dr. Lauren Tyra is the only person on the Plano school board who still wears a mask for the entirety of meetings and always uses science and actual data (as opposed to emotion) to make decisions and suggestions. She’s consistently been one of the most well-informed public officials. Dr. Tyra never stoops to the level of her counterparts when responding to their idiotic claims and always has something really interesting to say to students when they’re recognized instead of the usual “we’re so proud of you.”

McKinney City Council member Justin Beller hit the ground running in his service on the council. His dogged insistence on getting relevant information from the city and constituent presentations instead of just paying lip service to oversight is exactly what we should expect from our city council members. He truly seems to care about his constituents. Beller holds an open meeting for constituents every Monday before the council meeting, consistently attends activities inside his district, and is a strong advocate for the people of District 1 via distribution of CARES Act money, infrastructure improvements, and representation on boards and commissions. He also promotes the engagement of women and people of color in city leadership positions and actively supports helping civilian employees.

Best Watchdog: Liberal Women’s Action Network

While the Republicans have their own monitoring organization, theirs is plagued by fear-mongering, misinformation, and outright lies designed to increase their power and bottom lines. It’s run by Michael Quinn Sullivan of Empower Texans infamy. Yeah, it’s that guy, the same one who secretly taped Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen in 2019, probably hoping to blackmail him. That’s who we’re up against: people who are incredibly well-funded and corrupt. In contrast, LWAN runs on about 5-10 awesome and dedicated volunteers who keep watch on the myriad Republican politicians trying to run our county into the ground. A tiny group of volunteers is nowhere near enough to hold back the tide of garbage headed our way. Please join the fight! Winner of the Making Politicians Shake in Their Boots Award: LWAN warrior Justin Neth whose finely tuned bullsh*t detector and willingness to make waves is a wonder to behold.

Happy New Year, fellow Democrats! May 2022 be the year we turn the political tide towards compassion, justice, inclusion, and true leadership. Let’s get to work!

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  1. Wow!! Love this!!! Thanks for taking g the time to keep us informed!

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