Collin County Politics: Be a Thoughtful & Committed Citizen

August 23, 2022

Picture: It was standing room only as over 70 people showed up last Friday for the McKinney Area Democratic Club’s membership meeting.

Covid Update: Collin County has 248,964 confirmed Covid cases. That’s 2,251 more cases than I reported last week and 1,536 of our Collin residents have died (5 additional deaths). Our transmission level has dropped to Medium.

Monkeypox Update: This virus continues to get short shrift across Texas, especially in Collin County. This is definitely due to incompetence but is probably also due to bias about who Chris Hill thinks is getting this disease. Pathetic and discriminatory. As of August 9th, we had 14 cases of monkeypox in Collin County. There haven’t been any further updates from our public health department since that date, so who knows what the situation is now.

Education: Although Grapevine Colleyville ISD (GCISD) is in Tarrant County, we still need to be paying attention to what’s going on there because it’s truly terrifying. If you’ll recall, GCISD is the district that fired principal James Whitfield – the district’s first black principal – over CRT. They didn’t stop there. Tammy Nakamura, one of the two school board members bought by the hard-right Patriot Mobile PAC, accessed his file and then bragged about it at a Republican conference. She seems delightful. If that wasn’t enough, they recently put forward a new policy that bans any mention of gender fluidity, or the “don’t say trans” policy. I just knew Texas wouldn’t let Florida grab all the headlines over their bigotry and idiocy. To create this awesome new policy, the GCISD board hired Cantey Hanger, a law firm that not only boasts a founder who was a Grand Cyclops (I’m not making this up) of the Fort Worth KKK back in the day but currently employs Tim Davis, chief counsel for the Tarrant County GOP.

On Monday, close to 200 people signed up to speak at the school board meeting in which they were rushing through this terrific policy. Many students and parents showed up to speak but so did people from extremist groups like True Texas Project and the Fort Worth chapter of the John Birch Society. Of course, the Patriot Mobile PAC extremists had to be there to get their money’s worth. So far, this PAC paid over $400,000 to buy school board seats across Tarrant County: 2 in Carroll ISD, 2 in GCISD, 3 in Keller ISD, and 4 in Mansfield ISD. We’d be foolish to assume they’ll stop with Tarrant County.

The conservative majority on GCISD’s board voted to suspend the rules and limit trustee discussion to only 3 minutes each. Despite significant pushback from the more reasonable trustees, the conservatives voted for the new “don’t say trans” policy and additional restrictions on library books. They also voted in the same debate limits on the discussion of a policy to amend rules for school board elections so candidates can win with a plurality, not a majority of the votes cast. In other words, no more run-offs. As one speaker pointed out, this would make it easier for wealthy interests to dilute elections. Exactly! That’s why they want it. This too passed along extremist versus reasonable party lines.

We need to keep a close watch on what’s happening around us, particularly on the groups threatening our current system, like the True Texas Project, Moms for Liberty, and Patriot Mobile PAC. Even if they stay away from Collin County (a vain hope, I’m sure), I’m already seeing their beliefs leaking out into our meetings. For example, the negativity surrounding social-emotional learning (SEL) is already here. The SEL program is one implemented with bipartisan support in 2019 after the shooting at Santa Fe High School. It was designed to help with students’ mental health instead of just focusing on punishment. It’s been working, so much so that extremists are upset that their kids are learning empathy and celebrating concepts like diversity, equity, and inclusion. The horror!

That’s why they’re using the Uvalde massacre to get what they want. According to Republican politicians, SEL is now too “woke,” too soft on kids needing discipline. Instead of prioritizing programs addressing the emotional needs of students, they’re turning to harsher disciplinary policies. Yeah, that will work. That’s why Greg Abbott’s $100 million for school safety is 90% focused on law enforcement measures. It’s also why both Allen ISD and McKinney ISD are pushing more SROs for school safety despite absolutely NO empirical evidence that they’re at all helpful in active shooting situations.

Republicans are deadly serious about this. State senator Charles Perry from Lubbock said recently, “Not all kids belong in the classroom anymore.” State Representative Steve Toth from Houston claimed Uvalde happened because of the school disciplinary policies pushed by the “woke left.” He lamented a 2013 Texas law limiting the ability of school police officers to issue criminal citations to students and plans to remedy that. He may get his wish. There’s plenty of evidence to support that SROs increase the school-to-prison pipeline for black and brown students. After all, that’s who all these extremists are targeting.

Commissioner’s Court: During their 34-minute meeting last week, Chris Hill put Public Comments at the end of the meeting. Not only is this disrespectful to people who’d like to voice their concerns but it’s perhaps illegal since citizens don’t have the opportunity to comment on agenda items before the court votes on them. I mean, it’s not as if commissioners offer any opportunities for those of us who don’t fund their campaigns to speak with them any other way. This was exemplified by Josh Murray, whose been holding up a mirror to their antics for several years now. He wanted to speak on an agenda item but only was allowed to talk after they’d voted on it. Hill tried to walk back this dereliction of democracy by holding another vote but that’s purely performative.

Josh pointed out that they’re defunding democracy by not properly staffing the Elections Department (and all the other departments too). Despite huge increases in Collin County’s population, the Elections Department has had 15 people on staff for the last decade. They’re also defunding democracy by refusing to pay temporary election workers what they deserve. Although they approved a dollar increase in pay for all election workers earlier in the meeting, only the election judges will make $15/hour. That’s not acceptable. The commissioners have been shortchanging election workers for a while now. Despite not having as many people willing to temporarily staff elections, the commissioners went with the second-tier temp agency because they pay their workers less than the other agency. Josh insisted that they pay election workers at least $15/hour as a measure of respect for their service to our democracy.

The usual parade of Republicans reiterating The Big Lie spoke. This time there were 8 of them. As I keep saying, this is dangerous. Not only do we have a number of people who believe the propaganda enough that they’re willing to spend their time this way but, as FOX News has unfortunately demonstrated, if you repeat a lie often enough, people start to believe it. This is how you brainwash people. We cannot keep allowing them to control the narrative.

MADC donates to Ro Omere (CD4), Sheena King (HD61), Jesse Ringness (HD66), Josh Murray (County Judge), and Kevin Morris (HD67).

McKinney City Council: Long-time readers of this column may recall that I raised the issue of electioneering at the Gay Library with the council a while back. They finally got around to discussing my concerns which included harassment of potential voters and an excessive number of signs. Although the Forces of Light (Justin Beller, Dr. Gere Feltus, and Patrick Cloutier) did their best to try and make voting a pleasant experience for everyone, the others concluded that making Code Enforcement insist Republicans act like decent human beings was a bridge too far and decided against doing anything.

Mayor George Fuller was especially worried about how difficult enforcing these codes and laws is on the people whose job it is to enforce them, probably because they’d be required to fine their friends. Boo frickin hoo. If we don’t want to enforce our codes and laws, then why have them? This type of reasoning is exactly why Republicans continue to act badly: because the people whose job it is to stop them refuse to do it. Breaking the 100-foot barrier between the voting location and campaigners is a finable offense ($500 per day) but I sincerely doubt they’ve fined many people or will do so in the future. As such, the majority of the McKinney City Council has let us know that they’re perfectly fine with Republican harassment of voters and library patrons during elections. Good to know.

The big story though was redistricting. The council has been struggling with this issue for months and had finally narrowed down the maps to C and D. Fuller even asked Beller, Feltus, and Rainey Rogers (aka Sexist Racist Uncle) to have a meeting to work out their differences, so it seemed like one of those two maps were what we were going to have. But in a surprise move, Fuller came in with Map A and tried to bully the rest of the council into passing it. It could not have been clearer that he, Sexist Racist Uncle, Charlie Phillips, and Clueless Sheep Rick Franklin previously agreed they’d vote for a map no one had seen since February or had a chance to discuss. By the way, the Open Meetings Act forbids politicians from discussing items outside the public purview, so the four of them colluding on this map is shady as hell (were they smoking the stereotypical cigars during their backroom deal?) if not actually illegal.

I’ve been trying to figure out what’s motivating the ringleaders of the Shady Cabal. All four of them receive hefty donations from either realtors or developers or both, so it may be something they want to build in a certain district. It’s also possible they’ve selected Sexist Racist Uncle’s replacement (he’s term-limited and will be gone in May). It also could be that they’re trying to significantly change the 2 districts that recently elected Democrats so that won’t happen again which, if so, is typical Republican gerrymandering in a process known as cracking (diluting the votes of big Democratic and/or marginalized groups). Whatever their reasoning, they’re clearly up to something and it stinks. This is why I keep saying we shouldn’t vote for ANY Republican at any level. They’re all terrible.

Fuller started the discussion looking like the cat who caught the canary. He insultingly presented Map A as one with the “cleanest lines” that was best because it removed all “biases” from the process. That’s bunk. If we as a country truly wanted to remove “all biases” from redistricting, then we’d have non-partisan commissions that used computer modeling to complete the process. We really should do that because it would be the fairest way. But no Republican has an appetite for fairness, so here we are. Fuller can take a seat with his pretense of wanting fair maps. He can also take a seat about the “simplicity” of the map. If that was the case, then divide the city into 4 straight lines and be done with it. But redistricting isn’t about simplicity or clean lines.

Redistricting is supposed to be about accurately reflecting population changes by joining together like-minded groups based on location. No district should get too large. It’s also about safeguarding the votes of historically under-represented people. Unfortunately, too many on the council don’t seem to care about honoring diversity and acting equitably. Case in point: the only person on council who got none of her requests on redistricting is the only woman and person of color. They also ignored a motion she made until a white guy made it and then it was fine. I was seething. Apparently, I keep having to say this but: not a good look unless they’re fine with being racist misogynists!

The Shady Cabal kept bringing up a number of irrelevant issues. Phillips rambled on about the “prettiness” of the map (seriously?) and having all big businesses in District 1 (unless businesses can vote, this doesn’t matter). Clueless Sheep bleated that he likes map A but gave no good reason. He also mumbled something about how he hopes this doesn’t impair the council’s good working relationship. I’ve got news for you, Rick: when you screw people over, they tend to dislike you. I would’ve thought you learned that lesson during your campaign when you screwed over a lifetime friendship for your support of Frederick Frazier, the dude who recently was arrested for campaign corruption. Guess not. Sexist Racist Uncle kept throwing unholy tantrums, much like a toddler not getting to play with his favorite toy. This time, he attacked Patrick Cloutier for having the nerve to disagree with what he wants. Kudos to Cloutier for holding his own.

The only reason the Shady Cabal didn’t get their way was because they realized the public hasn’t had the opportunity to examine and weigh in on Map A. The redistricting process isn’t supposed to go like this, so I hope we can do something different when they revisit the maps.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Mead

Local Politics: Shady, underhanded dealings are hallmarks of Republicans, so we must keep close tabs on them. We won’t know what they’re up to unless we keep watch. Sign up to join the team covering your city council or school board. Everyone is welcome. Contact me at and let me know you’re interested.

Comments 1

  1. The Colleyville school district meeting was awful, although slightly hopeful was the pushback from parents and students. They’re paying attention and they’re angry, so perhaps voting will be different next time. I’ll add that this school board meeting was being watched nationwide. Not sure how viral it went, but Lindsay Fagan for Texas (running for Tarrant County Clerk) was commenting on her Facebook page, and people who follow her page (which can be highly entertaining) from other states were also watching.

    The McKinney redistricting thing was VERY disturbing. This process started off so well, with the council hiring an outside consultant to ensure fairness and adhering to the Voting Rights Act for municipalities. Instead, we’ve gotten maps that actually dilute the minority vote more than needed (a certain amount of dilution is inevitable because of population increases) and don’t follow the guidelines the council set themselves … not to mention completely changing the makeup of the district of the only woman and person of color on council. I’m not sure why this is happening (although I’m sure your guesses are at least close), but this is so maddening.

    Just as an FYI: the McKinney Dems just bought big signs that say “Democratic & Independent Voting Info Here” in an attempt to reduce the need for approaching voters at the polls. We hope they’ll feel comfortable coming to us. We’ll see.

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