Collin County Politics: Belief in Absurdities Must Stop

August 2, 2022

Covid Update: Collin County has 240,619 confirmed Covid cases. That’s 5,147 more cases than I reported last week and 1,526 of our Collin residents have died (7 additional deaths). Transmission level is still High for every DFW county except Denton County which is maintaining their Medium level. I’d love to know what, if anything, they’re doing differently.

Monkeypox Update: According to the Department of State Health Services, 454 Texans have been diagnosed with the disease. Of those, 228 are in the North Texas area, the most of any regional group. The symptoms of monkeypox mimic the flu but sores and lesions are what set it apart. Transmission is primarily through direct contact with infectious lesions, scabs, or body fluids. Although the threat level is low, it’s important to be aware there are 8 reported cases in Collin County. 

Education: Monday was the first day of public hearings for the State Board of Education (SBOE) on what students learn in social studies class. If you’re interested in what they’re considering, drafts of the proposed state standards, known as Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), are available online. The last major overhaul of the social studies TEKS was in 2010, so this clearly is a big deal. In the past, the SBOE has done crazy things like including Moses (!!) as an “individual whose principles of laws and government institutions informed the American founding documents.” When I first read that, I thought it was a joke but, sadly, it’s real. With the Critical Race Theory nonsense energizing the extremists (a ton of whom showed up to the meeting), we desperately need people like Alex Cornwallis, who has an emphasis on education and teachers on the board.

It’s another episode of What Terrible Thing Has Ken Paxton Done Now. This week, he joined 21 other Republican attorneys general in suing the Biden administration to ensure they can discriminate against students in the LGBTQ community. The lawsuit claims the federal government is trying to force states and schools to follow antidiscrimination requirements (the horror!) that “misconstrue the law.” The law they’re referring to is Bostock v. Clayton County, a landmark decision for the LGBTQ community in 2020 in which the Supreme Court (before they became partisan extremists) ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees against discrimination because they are gay or transgender. 

In May, the USDA announced that it would include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as a violation of Title IX, the 1972 law that guarantees equity between the sexes in “any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Thus, all states and schools receiving federal funds must follow civil rights laws. This is what the 22 jerkwads are objecting to, like civil rights are bad. As for Paxton, his smug tweet on the issue mentioned that this is his 30th lawsuit against the current administration. Instead of our tax dollars being used for things we want and need, this is what Republicans do instead.

Collin College Board of Trustees: I’d love to know how they’re able to recruit anyone to work there given that the lawsuits against them continue to rack up. In what is now the 6th lawsuit against them, administrator Linda Wee claims race-based discrimination and says “employees who speak out against civil rights violations is widespread and established within the College.” It’s hard to argue with that given another former employee who sued last year over race-based retaliation and discrimination claims, a black former professor who quit following years of racial harassment, and college president Neil Matkin who has publicly made racist statements.

Since these lawsuits keep happening, do the Trustees even care about how this looks and the consequences for faculty and staff? It’s weird. Educational institutions usually are quite risk averse but Collin College almost seems to welcome these lawsuits. Something is going on that we have yet to learn. In the meantime, their lawyers sure are earning their paychecks!

Commissioner’s Court: I’m sure Duncan Webb was grateful he missed the meeting last week since almost the entirety of the 30-minute meeting was taken up by the right-wing extremists going on and on about our lack of election security. Seriously. Other than the votes on the consent agenda and appointing Hill to the Farmersville TIRZ Board, they did nothing.

Apparently, the local Republican party must be brainwashing their new precinct chairs about the lack of election security because the last 2 weeks had 17 speakers rambling on about paper ballots, poll books, and disparities on the voting lists between the county and the state. Some want to reduce the number of days we can vote and move voting back to precincts only. One guy spouted a weird conspiracy theory while struggling to pronounce the word totalitarian.

It’s clear these speakers aren’t part of a brain trust. I’d love to ask them where their concern was in 2018 when voting machines actually switched votes from Beto to Ted Cruz (who “won” by a slim margin) and the Secretary of State refused to investigate. It also would be interesting to hear their answers to why they’re so convinced of shady dealings in 2020 when Republicans swept the state and county races. If I truly wanted a conspiracy theory about Texas elections, I’d ask why 10 out of 10 of the races statewide believed by both parties to be won by Democrats ended up being won by Republicans during that election. Yet these geniuses are arguing that their party’s wins may have been illegitimate.

This would all be amusing if it wasn’t so dangerous. Historians and political scientists alike believe “the Big Lie” is setting the stage for the state legislature to overrule voters and substitute their own people, both at the state and national levels. The Republicans in power want their minions to mistrust the electoral process so that when they seize power (or manipulate paper ballots), their sheep will go right along with them. This move coordinates nicely with their attempts to ban schools from teaching about systemic racism (they call it CRT; we call them “memory laws”). This feeds into authoritarianism by providing cover for attempts to disenfranchise non-White voters. If they ban discussion of things like voter suppression, then we won’t know it when we see it.

This is democracy being destroyed in slow motion. We ignore it at our own peril.

The commissioners can and should do better with practically everything. Part of the problem we have in Collin County is that we’ve been under Republican rule for so long that many people don’t know what we should be expecting from our county representatives. They don’t know how much they’re failing us. For example, take the lousy job they did on protecting us from Covid and the disaster that was the vaccine roll-out. They learned no lessons from that (although Josh Murry implored them to do an after-action report) and are set to fail us again with Monkeypox.

To wit: in early July, there was an email exchange between Bill Bilyeu and Chris Hill (ccing the other commissioners) about the first recorded case of Monkeypox in Collin County. The two men agreed there shouldn’t be a press release about it (no reason to let people know the state of our public health; I mean, Covid went so well, why do anything different?) and used misinformation as reasons why they shouldn’t make it public. Josh Murray commented on this email in a Facebook post, saying correctly that recommendations & guidance should be provided by medical professionals and there’s no excuse for Hill not providing real-time data or informing us about the resources available. Darrell Hale – who clearly has too much time on his hands – waded into the discussion defending Hill (typical for a lapdog) and saying general Monkeypox information is on their website.

As I’ve mentioned before, their website is a mess and it’s difficult to find information there, particularly on healthcare. I went to the website and there’s nothing about Monkeypox on the home page. For that matter, despite our High level of transmission rates, there’s nothing about Covid on the home page besides information about vaccines. Entering “Monkeypox” into the Search function got me no results. Way to keep your constituents informed, commissioners! And the one time Hale could’ve been useful – by providing information about the status of the individual with Monkeypox and possible additional infections – he refused to discuss the issue citing HIPAA for patient privacy. That isn’t how HIPAA works but I wouldn’t expect Hale to know much in the first place.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.


Allen City Council: In an extremely long meeting, Dave Shafer showed his true colors and ignorance, to the disgust of most of his fellow council members. He pulled the creation of the Community Engagement Advisory Board item off the consent agenda so he could talk trash about it. He threw his all against it, saying everything from it serves no legitimate purpose to the board could deprive city employees of personal time because they might have to stay late. Yeah, like he cares about city employees.

No one joined his lone crusade against the board, not even his buddy Dave Cornette. This was an interesting turnaround from Cornette since he stated on Facebook that it was an “unnecessary” board because the county has something similar although he couldn’t provide any details. This is because there isn’t one. The commissioners want less community engagement, not more! All the other council members spoke in favor of the board. Ben Trahan went so far as to suggest Shafer should serve on the board since he has so many ideas about how it should be run. Shafer’s death glare towards Trahan was a hoot. The creation of the board was passed 6-1.

But Shafer wasn’t done wasting time and showing he has no business being on a city council. Despite the Allen Parks and Recreation Department being recognized earlier in the meeting, he pulled the approval of the Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Master Plan off the consent agenda. He said he wouldn’t support any item from this plan and definitely not anything that spends a single penny from the general fund. The Parks and Rec Department is the pride of Allen and the services it provides were a lifesaver for many people during the pandemic. Clearly, Shafer doesn’t understand that the ultimate goal of a city is to provide services to its residents.

In this instance, some of the other council members dropped the ball as well. Daren Meis asked to table the item since he only saw the 10 Year Master Plan document the previous evening. Cornette and Chris Schulmeister agreed that they needed more time to consider it. The Parks and Rec Director pointed out that the plan had been presented back in March and they have some grant funding opportunities they’d miss if they don’t have an updated plan in the next few months. In other words, several council members haven’t been doing their homework. Not a great look. Trahan agreed with Meis’ idea of a workshop but wants specific questions about specific projects to be presented to staff beforehand in order to have a more effective discussion. He was looking directly at Shafer while saying this and received another death glare in response. Hee. They voted to table the item until after their workshop.

Shafer still wasn’t done. He objected to authorizing a standard contract for third-party services although he eventually joined everyone else in voting for it. He also objected to authorizing the city manager to execute an agreement for shade installations at various parks and was the lone vote against approving the item. It’s clear Shafer doesn’t want to spend any money for pretty much anything. He’s so terrible. I remain amazed at the idiocy of those who voted for him.

McKinney City Council: At the July 19th work session, they decided to slow down replacing the 4-way stop at Glen Oaks and Ridge with a roundabout so they can “sell the idea” to the public. That’s utter nonsense. Clearly, some of the more influential people living in Stonebridge Ranch (where it would go) don’t want it for whatever stupid reason they have. This one is personal to me as I was involved in a serious accident there and was told by several residents who live near the intersection that there are accidents there all the time. I’ve witnessed a few myself. The council needs to stop kowtowing to rich people and do the right thing for public safety.

They also discussed redistricting, an ongoing thorn in their side. Districts 1 and 3 must add voters (12,000 into 1 and 5,000 to 3). Two plans, C and D, are under discussion. Mayor Fuller mentioned his surprise that some of the HOA presidents in Craig Ranch are upset at the thought of being moved from District 4 to District 1 because District 4 is their identity. I’m sure it has nothing to do with District 1 having a more diverse population in terms of race, ethnicity, and income level. This objection has the whiff of racism and/or classism to it. Not a great look. Rainey Rogers decided to pile on by saying District 4 people wouldn’t want a low-income housing project but District 1 probably would welcome it, so they don’t want the same things. Sheesh! Rogers stumbled along trying desperately not to sound racist or classist but failing miserably.

It got even worse. Justin Beller was adamantly opposed to Plan C because it significantly dilutes minority representation. Given that the council wanted to create a majority-minority district but couldn’t (although they might’ve been able had they gone with the Luton plan), further lessening minority representation is a bad idea. But Rogers wouldn’t be deterred. He accused Beller of being an advocate of low-income housing (the horror!) with Beller replying that he’s an advocate of housing. Damn straight! To my great disappointment, Fuller interrupted. If he hadn’t, Beller would’ve taken Rogers down and I’m here to see it! Fuller tried to stand up for the richies saying Stonebridge and Craig Ranch would have their own priorities but Beller was having none of it. He said (correctly) that’s true of all neighborhoods.

When Feltus made it clear she was in favor of D, Rogers tried browbeating her by accusing her of being worried about her voter base and getting re-elected. I’m confused by his animation throughout this entire discussion. Due to term limits, this is his last year as a council representative. Why does he care? He also didn’t seem to understand the electoral implications of the plan he supports. What a shock. The discussion continued with Beller mentioning the possibility of having 6 districts instead of 4. Sounds good to me. No one jumped on that idea though, so they continued to argue until Fuller asked that Beller, Feltus, and Rogers have a workshop to work it out. Given who donated to his campaign, Fuller probably wants to vote for the richies, so we have work to do.

Action Item: Email and call your representatives and tell them you support Plan D.

Plano City Council: Short-term rentals continue to be an issue with five public speakers who want them all to be banned. They’re clearly not thrilled with the council’s decision to do registrations. Another speaker also talked about STRs but she was in favor of property owners being able to do what they want with their property. She made good points but the angry people against STRs have some legitimate complaints as well. It seems like the council needs to find a middle ground.

Shanette Eaden (who’s amazing!), Plano’s Community Services Manager, presented the Resolution to adopt the 2022-2023 Action Plan regarding the use of Community Development Block Grant and HOME Investment Partnership Programs. There was a lot of concern about money just sitting there being unused but Eaden said that wasn’t true. Rick Grady was incredibly focused on utilizing Community Housing Development Organizations because he believes they can use the funding more efficiently. From what I could tell, that didn’t seem like a great option but he never gave up on it.

Rick Smith spoke about the need for utility assistance. Anthony Ricciardelli wanted to know if the funds can be used for the Great Update Rebate program, a program created to assist Plano homeowners with the financial burden of caring for older homes in Plano. Eaden pointed out this program doesn’t prevent homelessness, so funding can’t be used for this. Ricciardelli didn’t give up and I, per usual, felt sorry for anyone who has to deal with him. Mayor Muns tried to kick the can down the road with a delay but was told it was time-sensitive. The council voted 7-1 to approve it with Grady (of all people!) being the lone no vote. That seems odd for him on this issue.

The other big discussion revolved around an appeal for an Independent Living Facility (ILF) to be built on the 7 acres at Plano Parkway and Dallas North Tollway. The land is zoned commercial but has been undeveloped for years and the developers think they can make the ILF work. Despite several speakers being in support of the project, the council voted unanimously against it. They listed noise (it’s close to an active railroad), lack of walkability, and quality of life considerations as reasons to deny the appeal. It may be that this plot of land isn’t suitable but the question then becomes: where else can an ILF be built in Plano? Affordable housing for seniors is important and we need to figure this out.

Richardson City Council: The big issue at the July 11th meeting was the expansion of the water pump station at Point North Park. They’re planning on adding a 5-million-gallon tank and pump station. Several residents showed up to ask the council to move the pump station and save the park. They also complained that they only heard about the motion to authorize pre-construction services (they’re prepping for the upcoming construction) 24 hours prior to the meeting and demanded more transparency. Unfortunately for them, the discussion about this issue showed them to be very uninformed.

The land was always designated as a water distribution system; the park amenities were added later. The city plans on simply moving the park amenities; they’re not removing them completely. The size of the tank is driven by water needs and isn’t open to change. Due to engineering reasons (like water pressure), they can’t locate the facilities anywhere else; this is the only place they can expand the water facilities. Apparently, the Canyon Creek Homeowners Association was told all of this in January, so the residents only have their HOA (or themselves) to blame if they didn’t know this was happening.

The motion passed unanimously as it should have. However, this brings up a big issue Collin County and perhaps the entire state seems to be ignoring: water. We’re in the middle of a massive drought and our water capacity is dwindling, especially as our population grows. City councils are starting to get concerned about our limited options yet few want to make the hard choices we must if we are to survive. Conservation has to be on the table as does expanding water reserves and facilities. I had little sympathy for the Richardson residents who were more upset about losing the park in their backyard than they were getting fresh water. Priorities, people!

Local Politics: Too many people think that one person can’t make a difference, that we just have to take whatever our terrible leaders throw at us. Nancy Thompson disagreed. She made a protest sign, headed to the state capitol, and launched Mothers Against Greg Abbott, a group that now boasts over 50,000 members and several chapters across Texas. If you haven’t checked out the videos being put out by the group, you definitely should. They’re great.

As I cannot reiterate enough: local politics is where we can make the most difference. This is where we speak up about the Big Lie, the necessity of city services, public safety needs, affordable housing, and water conservation. Our strength is in our numbers, so we must come together to show our elected representatives that we’re a force to be reckoned with. 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. Roundabouts scare people for some reason, but they’re easy to use and keep traffic moving steadily without the risk of accidents from running stop signs.

    Water is really worrying me, and our state doesn’t seem to be paying enough attention. Actually, the entire COUNTRY doesn’t seem to be paying enough attention. I’m just waiting for the time when we begin to look like the landscape in “Mad Max.” Mel Gibson played Mad Max, and we all know how he turned out.

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