Collin County Politics: Combat the Flooding of the Zone

August 30, 2022

Picture: Activist Judy Cote, Commissioners Court candidate Jeff Williams, activist Tina Brannon, and CCDP chair Caroline Werner attend the Stop the Asian Hate rally in support of our Asian sisters and brothers.

Covid Update: Collin County has 250,995 confirmed Covid cases. That’s 2,031 more cases than I reported last week and 1,540 of our Collin residents have died (4 additional deaths). Our transmission level remains at Medium.

Monkeypox Update: The only recent information I can find about cases or even transmission rate was an August 17th release about Collin County expanding the criteria for people eligible to receive a monkeypox vaccination. Dallas County issued an emergency declaration in early August to help slow the spread of the virus but Collin County isn’t as concerned. Perhaps our transmission rate is still Low but why not just say that? Why do we have to guess?

Statewide: Greg Abbott didn’t have a good weekend. Early on Saturday morning, a group of family members and friends of people killed in Uvalde stood in front of the governor’s mansion playing recordings of their dead children. In between recordings, the parents shouted their children’s names and let Abbott have it. “If we can’t sleep, neither can you!” one parent screamed. Another yelled, “These are the voices of our children! This is all we have left because you don’t give a damn!” Many members of the group then joined the March for Our Lives rally held on the capitol steps later in the day. They demanded Abbott and the state legislature raise the minimum age for buying an AR-15-style rifle to 21.

The protest came on the heels of yet another Moms Against Greg Abbott video. This one shows a young child getting ready for the first day of school…in full body armor and a helmet. It really hits home, doesn’t it? I can’t wait for the debate between Beto and Abbott. It’s going to be epic!

Am I wrong in assuming Ken Paxton’s ultimate goal is to become a cartoon villain in a Batman series? It sure seems like it. Maybe we should have a contest to see who can pick the best name. The Felon? The Cheater? Mr. Gross? You decide. If Rochelle Garza manages to get him to debate her (no way that coward ever shows up), I fully expect her to ask just what he thinks the job description of Attorney General entails. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t include the AG getting involved in the private medical decisions between people and their physicians. Yet that’s exactly what he’s been doing for a while now.

Paxton has twice inserted himself into the private lawsuit brought by Dr. Ximena Lopez against Children’s Medical Center of Dallas. Lopez sued in March to reverse the decision to halt certain treatments for new patients and remove the branding at Genecis, a program for transgender adolescents that Children’s ran with UTSW until November. In June, a Dallas County Judge ruled that the state had no interest in the case. One of Lopez’s lawyers accused Paxton of playing politics: “This Attorney General is — and has been for some time — abusing the legal system and exceeding his legal authority so that he can generate Twitter content and play to his base. Worst of all, he does it through the unauthorized use of the name of our great State.” Yep. That’s what he was doing during the J6 insurrection too.

Paxton appealed the ruling, claiming that the state has an interest in the case because Lopez is challenging his interpretation of Texas law and has accused the governor of pressuring the hospitals to make changes at Genecis. I’m pretty sure Abbott did do that, so I’m on her side. Another of Lopez’s lawyers absolutely nailed Paxton: “The State’s involvement is merely a political stunt in an election year, for no apparent purpose other than to allow our disgraced attorney general to show off his allegedly conservative bona fides while he is actually disrupting the ability of some of the most vulnerable members of our society — children — from receiving proper medical care and counseling.” But that’s just it, isn’t it? Paxton doesn’t care about anyone other than his donors. If he did, why would he try to prevent kids from getting the care they need?

He’s doing the same thing with abortion. In July, Paxton sued the Biden administration over its guidance about emergency abortions. The administration reaffirmed federal rules saying women must have access to abortion services in situations where their life is in danger. This seems like a no-brainer unless you just want women to die. Paxton doesn’t care. He sued, claiming the federal law – the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) – doesn’t preempt the Texas abortion ban. He claimed EMTALA doesn’t say anything specific about abortion, so hospitals don’t have to provide abortion but only the care they would normally provide to patients. This is ridiculous and dangerous. Paxton’s essentially using our tax dollars to demand pregnant women don’t receive lifesaving care. I’ve changed my mind. Perhaps his villain name should be The Nazi.

ICYMI: Remember the fights over the Confederate statues we had in 2020? They aren’t over. In the summer of 2020, a grassroots organization called Pro Gainesville organized sit-ins and marches in Gainesville, hoping they’d take down both yucky Confederate statues they have on display. They were somewhat successful as the Gainesville City Council did the right thing and voted unanimously to remove one of them. However, the Cooke County Commissioner’s Court got their good ole boy feathers ruffled (would it shock you to know that all 5 of them are middle-aged white guys?) and voted 4-1 to keep the second one.

The Pro Gainesville group – mostly young people of color – protested peacefully. The counter-protesters – mostly ugly middle-aged white guys with penis enhancers, er, I mean guns – were not as pleasant. They actively blocked traffic and held their guns with fingers on their triggers, terrorizing Gainesville residents who lived close by as well as protesters. They also stalked and threatened the protesters online. I’d love to know if any of them knew anything about the statue they were determined to “protect.” The police refused to listen to complaints against these brave patriots facing off against scary young people chanting and holding signs (so terrifying!). They also didn’t seem concerned about the MAGA’s interference with public safety.

The police and the Cooke County attorney didn’t care about doing the right thing or figuring out what the people of Gainesville – not the white supremacists bused in – wanted. The only thing they cared about was stopping the protests. Toward that end, they arrested 3 of the Pro Gainesville protester for…wait for it…jaywalking. Ok, it’s officially listed as obstructing a roadway but it’s still ridiculous. Yep. The dangerous, cowardly, racist MAGAs could actively threaten people and disrupt traffic but the people wanting justice were arrested for walking on the shoulder of the road to avoid a puddle of water on the sidewalk. With no criminal records, the protesters should’ve received a pretrial diversion or even deferred adjudication but instead got a trial.

If you know people living in Gainesville or Cooke County, please let them know how much of their tax dollars were wasted on a jury trial for jaywalking. The county attorney called 12 witnesses to testify against the defendants and the judge made rulings unlikely to hold up on appeal. The jury took 15 minutes to deliberate and then sentenced them to seven days in Cooke County Jail and a $2,000 fine. As you might expect, they’re appealing and, if they have any kind of fair judicial process next time, they’ll win. That isn’t the point.

The Cooke County Commissioners, the Gainesville Chief of Police, and the Cooke County Attorney don’t care if they win or lose this case. Their intention is to scare off any future protesters so they can continue their cowardly, racist ways. This is what the southern states did for decades to keep black people in their place; clearly, some of those people are still around. If we ever want our country to move forward, we cannot let them get away with this evil behavior.

Although Gainesville isn’t Collin County, what’s happening there affects us too and we still have our own racist battles to fight. The butt-ugly statue of Throckmorton remains in the McKinney town square and one of our streets still bears the traitor’s name. It’s truly unacceptable.

My dad, Denny Hook, is running for Cooke County Judge. As should be clear, a Democrat on the Cooke County Commissioners Court is badly needed. Please feel free to donate to his campaign and tell all your friends in Cooke County to vote for him.

Education: After the Grapevine-Colleyville School Board passed their heinous “don’t say trans” policy, the board president (obviously a Republican) said it reflected the community’s values. Last Friday, over 100 GCISD students proved him wrong by walking out of their 3rd-period classes to protest outside. One of the organizers wrote, “We are here to show that the school board cannot get away with treating our education, our lives, as a playground for politics. We will not let this school board treat the existence of minorities as a controversy.” A small crowd of parents and supporters gathered on the sidewalk off-campus in support.

Other adults protested in a different way. The ACLU of Texas said the policy goes far beyond Texas law, threatens First Amendment rights, and will have a chilling effect on the classroom. I hope that means they’re planning legal action. An interfaith coalition recently sent a letter to the district, calling the changes to protocols “nothing short of persecution.” Damn straight. These groups stand in stark contrast to the state GOP which is eagerly fundraising off of the controversy. They hope to bring this type of policy to every school district in Texas. This is why I wrote last week that we have to be aware of what’s happening around us. They’ll never stop.

You know who else won’t stop? The students. Although they eventually returned to class, the young activists vowed to continue fighting. I hope they do, even though the school will make it hard for them. The Grapevine High principal told families that all students who participated in the walkout will receive an unexcused absence. While it’s stupid, that’s also a small price to pay for demanding human rights.

Commissioner’s Court: Imagine my surprise and delight when google showed me a link that took me directly to the Collin County Covid dashboard. Finally! We’re getting somewhere, I thought. Wrong! The Covid dashboard was confusing and said they’d no longer provide counts of new and confirmed cases, those who have recovered, and Covid-related deaths in Collin County. They’re only providing hospitalization data mainly because it’s easy to obtain. We wouldn’t want them to work hard or adequately fund our public health department or anything. The dashboard helpfully provided a link to the Department of State Health Services but, when I clicked it, I got an error message saying the item may have been deleted or you may have entered an incorrect URL. Typical. To make matters worse, when I tried to find this information from the actual site and not from a google search, I had to hunt for it. This is how they handle our public health? Pathetic.

The commissioners are doing their budget workshops, so if you care to see how they’re not allocating funds to anything other than the sheriff’s department, be sure to watch online or attend in person. Last week’s 27-minute meeting consisted almost exclusively of Public Comments. Extremist watch: 8 crazies. While I know Josh Murray gets under the commissioners’ skin for being way better than they are, it’s super irritating to watch all of them completely ignore him. They’re public servants which means it’s literally their job to listen to constituents. Ugh! These people are the WORST!

Josh was asking them to implement the 2015 International Building Code standards in all rural schools so they can have tornado shelters. That seems like something they should care about but nope. It does nothing for them, so why should they care? In lieu of safer building codes, Josh asked for an Emergency Management Response Plan for mass casualty events. That sounds reasonable but, remember, these are the same people who couldn’t do better than a decades-old initial draft of a public health disaster response plan. That’s why our Covid response was so poor (be sure to have your smelling salts available because this will shock you): they didn’t plan well.

McKinney School Board: I wish I could tell you all about the presentation on the tax rate and how several board members expressed their disgust that the state now has $27 BILLION from recapture funds from our schools that they’re under no obligation to spend on public education. They even mentioned how people should contact their legislators but refused to go so far as to tell people to quit voting Republican. That would take care of the problem but whatever. No, I can’t tell you about that because there are so many other things that happened at the most recent meeting.

Before the public meeting even started, Stephanie O’Dell tapped Chad Green, known to loyal readers as the Big Hathole, on the arm or shoulder with some papers to let him know the meeting was about to start. He was busy talking with a fan and was unaware of the time. Instead of responding like a regular person and doing what he was elected to do, he filed an assault charge against her. Sigh. I’ll come back to this later.

The video of the meeting was a little over 3 hours which does not include the 2 executive sessions they held. Yikes! They went over their usual agenda items plus 18 speakers during Public Comments, only one of whom was reasonable. In case you’re wondering, the extremists have moved on from CRT, SEL, and mostly from porn (although the Chair of the Collin County Republican Party is still heavily invested in it). Now their attention is on pronouns. I imagine they can’t identify what part of speech pronouns even are but yet are completely against them. I guess we’re now just supposed to call everyone by their names or maybe we’re supposed to just point at who we mean.

President Amy Dankel also had to spend time at the start of the meeting reading a statement from their lawyers, referencing the Texas Open Meetings Act, the Texas Penal Code, and the Texas Education Code regarding appropriate behavior. Sheesh! The middle school behavior of the extremists is why we can’t have nice things, like short meetings! Privilege, entitlement, and brainwashing are indeed a toxic brew. A proper upbringing seems to be in short supply with that crew as well. But don’t feel too sad for Dankel. She got to go home early (more on that in a minute).

The tail end of the meeting was taken up by the Level III appeal filed by Brittany Hendrickson. She was sad because, during the April meeting, she and 5 other members of the brain trust failed to fill out the speaker form correctly. As a result, they were unable to speak their nonsense. Never mind that she got to speak at several meetings prior to that one and at least one following it. No, Hendrickson needed to speak in April, for the children, you understand. Incompetently assisting her was Paul Davis, the lawyer fired for his participation in the J6 insurrection. He’s a peach. He spent most of his time giving the timeline of the sad saga of Hathole. He also demanded the censure and removal as president of Amy Dankel. Sure, that’s how this works. The good news for Dankel though is she got to avoid hearing any of this since it was directed at her. She probably couldn’t leave fast enough.

Lawyer Giana Ortiz ably represented the administration, pointing out that this whole thing is nonsense. I was hoping she’d just say, “Nope!” and sit down since that was the type of response they deserved. But no, she was very professional and presented appropriate case law and board policy to back up her position. The school board members asked a few pointed questions but then voted unanimouously (with Dankel and Hathole abstaining) against the appeal.

Prosper School Board: Prosper ISD better get ready to shell out some dough because a lawsuit filed last week against the district is a doozy. The family bringing the lawsuit alleges that a former bus driver abused their two daughters on more than 100 occasions and that the district and its employees didn’t do enough to protect the sisters. It seems like they have a point given that all the incidents occurred while on district property and were captured on bus surveillance footage. If that isn’t bad enough, multiple district employees noticed the older girl was repeatedly kept on the school bus alone but didn’t report the behavior.

PISD officials couldn’t have handled this situation worse. Not only did they refuse to notify the parents of other children on the bus route about the reported abuse but the superintendent also asked the family to keep quiet in order to prevent media attention. I understand that they couldn’t admit to the abuse but they certainly could’ve acknowledged the difficulty of the situation, taken steps to inform parents, and talk about ways to increase bus safety. I guess PISD administrators missed class the day they taught that secrets usually end badly.

If you’re wondering about the bus driver, he was arrested in May shortly after the family found out about the abuse and notified the school and the police. However, days after being booked into the Collin County jail, he jumped off the second floor of the facility, was paralyzed, and then died in June. I wonder if anyone is looking into how he was able to jump. That jail is unsafe!

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.

Edmund Burke

Local Politics: You might reasonably ask why so many of these ridiculous things are happening. In McKinney, no one sane thinks Hathole’s assault charge against O’Dell is going to stick just as no one believed Hendrickson’s appeal would amount to anything. The people organizing the sheep screeching at meetings don’t expect they will have an affect on the board. They’re just utilizing the same strategy as the Gainesville racists. While they’re trying to prevent protests in Cooke County, the McKinney extremists are trying to scare away good people from running for the school board.

Republicans are also closely following Steven Bannon’s playbook and “flooding the zone with shit.” Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, and Ken Paxton (the Axis of Evil) are throwing everything they’ve got at us. So are the local Republican politicians, like 4 of the GCISD school board. No one thinks state representative Jared Patterson will be able to take away social media from teenagers. That’s not the point. He’ll make it such an issue that people will get exhausted. They want to wear us down so we’ll get drained and let them do whatever they want to do. That was probably Putin’s strategy in Ukraine too.

We can’t let them do this. The only way we survive the onslaught and get our country back is to win by numbers. That’s why it’s vital more people sign up to join the team covering your city council or school board. As no less a patriot than Ken Paxton said, “Public access to the proceedings and decision-making processes of government is essential to a properly functioning and free state.” So, follow his lead and show up to make sure our local government is working. Everyone is welcome. Contact me at and let me know you’re interested.

Comments 1

  1. It’s all just so much, isn’t it? Just wave after wave of incompetence and outrageous behavior. Thank you for continuing to keep us informed. And I’ll add about your Gainesville story that at least two of the people arrested were people of color, social workers, and single moms. So that fine is intentionally meant to hurt vulnerable populations. I found a letter to the editor about the protest, and the witness (he wasn’t part of the protest) said one of the “patriot” counterprotestors accidentally discharged his gun and another one kept dropping his until the police escorted him to his car (but didn’t take away his weapon, of course).

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