Collin County Politics: Don’t Allow Ignorance to Ally with Power

July 12, 2022

Picture: Liberals who care about women and privacy at a pro-choice march in Frisco

Covid Update: Collin County has 232,422 confirmed Covid cases. That’s 5,256 more cases than I reported last week and 1,519 of our Collin residents have died (5 additional deaths). That’s a sharp increase in cases and hospitalization numbers are slowly rising. Our test positivity rate is very high, indicating that cases are being significantly undercounted. This makes sense given many people are testing at home and not reporting positive results. A lot of people are living as though Covid is over. It isn’t.

Abortion: The Parliament of the European Union recently voted 324-155 to condemn the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. The entire democratic world recognizes the illegitimacy of this rogue SCOTUS but that doesn’t shame or restrain any of the Republicans in the Texas legislature. Neither do stories about how the situation for women in need of reproductive care in Texas is exceedingly grim. One woman whose fetus had a fatal condition that also put her at risk had to drive 19 hours to New Mexico to terminate. Other pregnant women with ectopic pregnancies and incomplete miscarriages have had to wait for hours so their physicians could consult with LAWYERS about their care. Some with incomplete miscarriages were told to come back when their fever got too high. It’s only a matter of time before we start hearing about pregnant women dying and that’s IF the mainstream media even reports on them.

President Biden’s Executive Order may help some but it’s pathetic that he has to mandate legal coverage for physicians to save the lives of pregnant women. I appreciated the EO also covering the loss of medical privacy. I’ve been wondering how anti-abortion nutjobs were going to get around HIPAA violations even though I know they will. While Biden’s EO was welcome, it can’t overcome terrible laws. Physicians still must wait until pregnant women are on the precipice of dying before they can intervene, so there will be preventable tragedies. There will be a lot of them.

Has that stopped any Texas Republican politicians? Nope. In fact, members of the incredibly misnamed Texas Freedom Caucus recently doubled down with a threatening letter to a Dallas law firm that’s covering the costs of out-of-state travel for female employees seeking an abortion. In this letter, they mentioned their plan to introduce legislation prohibiting such reimbursement and opening up businesses to “private civil-enforcement mechanism” (the $10,000 bounties). I hope other businesses – especially those seeking to relocate to Texas – read this letter. This is moronic and authoritarian type behavior which absolutely will not stop here.

But what can you expect from a state that has Republican legislators with names like Brooks, Mayes, Briscoe, Tan, Jacey, and Four? Perhaps it’s time these pretentiously named idiots get a taste of reaping what they sow. Maybe we, like ShutDownDC, should protest anywhere they’re trying to have a nice meal or be out in public. Brett Kavanaugh didn’t care for that, so these Gang of Fools likely won’t either. If they don’t like not having the freedom to do what they want at will, then perhaps they’ll rethink their actions. Either that or they’ll threaten protesters with guns. After all, this is Texas where almost everyone has the right to carry a weapon of mass destruction but some of us can’t even control our own bodies.

One Plano woman, Brandy Bottone, is pointing out that Republicans can’t have their cake and eat it too. She was ticketed for driving in the HOV lane even though she was 34 weeks pregnant and pointed out that her fetus is now considered a person. As such, there were 2 people in the vehicle and she was following the law. Although Bottone isn’t necessarily pro-choice, she recognizes the inconsistencies in the law and is fighting the ticket.

If personhood is granted at conception or even at 6 weeks, then pregnant women should be receiving child support, tax exemptions, no deportations (the fetus would automatically be a citizen), jail time (since the fetus would be unjustly imprisoned), and other benefits. I have a sneaking suspicion that Republicans’ generosity (there’s an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one) and protection aren’t going to extend to any of those things, especially since their goal of criminalizing abortion has nothing to do with life and everything to do with controlling women.

I read articles about Bottone’s situation in both the Dallas Morning News and the Washington Post. The variations between the two outlets are worth noting. The main difference was in the amount of context and background WaPo gave; the DMN article was short. The other change was in who the reporters quoted. The DMN reporter made sure to get a comment from an anti-abortion group while the WaPo journalist quoted a Dallas-based appellate lawyer. Frankly, I’m always suspicious of DMN articles and you should be too. They rarely give us the entire story or one free from bias.

We should all be aware of – and mention often, especially to Republicans – the statistics behind reproductive issues in Texas. We have an abysmal record. According to the CDC, Texas has some of the highest rates in the entire country of teen pregnancy, infant mortality, and maternal mortality (ranking in the top 10), especially for women of color. More than 25% of women of childbearing age in Texas are uninsured (the highest rate in the nation).

Despite all these terrible statistics, Republicans opted not to expand Medicaid services under the Affordable Care Act thereby significantly hurting families. According to the Texas Department of Health & Human Services, over 1,000 children every year will go without getting adopted, becoming permanent placements in the Foster Care system. You’d think Republicans would care about having to financially support these kids but no, they’ll just underfund the foster system. I guess the “party of family values” doesn’t care much about children! Or women. Or families.

Dedicated volunteers for Sheena King (HD61) brave the heat at the Pro-Choice March in Frisco

Guns: According to the CDC, gun deaths among Texas children (people ages 0 to 17), have more than doubled since Greg Abbott took office in 2015. That’s a startling statistic, one I’m confident most Republicans don’t know. Make sure those in your life do know this, especially since Beto’s been trying to do something about that for years! Start telling Republicans that Greg Abbott doesn’t care about dead children and if they vote for him, neither do they. It’s time to get ruthless, people! Civility is no longer on the table. If we truly care about our children, then Greg Abbott needs to go!

He’s not the only one who needs to be relegated to the dustbin of history. Believe it or not, Texas doesn’t rank in the top 5 states with the most deaths from guns (shocking, I know). But I’m sure you guessed that the top 5 death states have something in common: they’re all red. Go figure. This type of information is why Republicans have banned the CDC from collecting adequate data on firearm violence. They want to keep us ignorant about what’s truly going on. Don’t let them!

Harassing Kids: Banning books isn’t enough for state representative Jared Patterson (HD106). Instead of focusing on solutions to real problems plaguing Texas (like fixing the grid, increasing access to healthcare, adequately funding public education, and water conservation as we’re in the middle of a drought), he’s choosing to focus on social media. He announced plans to file a bill during the next legislative session that would ban minors from using social media until they’re 18. I have to say, his weird obsession with what kids look at is creepy. Patterson says it’s because he’s concerned about their mental health but that’s nonsense. It’s clear he has no ideas for how to improve anything other than to ban stuff.

Given that Patterson’s running unopposed in November, all his posturing means one thing: he’s got his eye on higher political office. Frisco, you deserve way better than Patterson! Find a good candidate NOW who’s willing to challenge him in 2024 (for whatever seat) but also search for someone to run for HD106.

It is certain, in any case, that ignorance allied with power is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.

James Baldwin

Commissioner’s Court: Due to the holiday, the commissioners didn’t hold a meeting last week. Chris Hill did send out an email informing us about the great financial report card Collin County got from S&P Global & Moody’s. While they phrased it positively (otherwise, Hill wouldn’t have included it), Moody’s mentioned our “very high reserves relative to revenue, as well as low debt and pension burdens.” If you read between the lines, this means Collin County is sitting on a ton of money. How can they do this? By not providing services to residents. Our public health department is severely underfunded, county healthcare is next to impossible to access, there isn’t anything county-wide to help people struggling with homelessness, and our infrastructure isn’t keeping up with growth. In short, our “leaders” aren’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing. They exist to provide services to residents, not crow about how much money we have.

Also, I received this email from…you guessed it…Hill’s campaign address. At the bottom, it had a handy “About Chris Hill” section along with gigantic Endorse and Donate buttons. This is exactly what Josh Murray is talking about. I shouldn’t have to suffer through Hill’s campaign nonsense to be an informed citizen. And any emails he sends to constituents should be subject to FOIA requests. By sending information this way, Hill is thumbing his nose at democracy in general and us in particular.

But no one should be surprised by this. The commissioners as a body don’t care if we’re informed or if we participate in our own governance. In fact, they prefer for us to be ignorant so they can do whatever they want! That’s why they don’t have a work session in which we get to hear presentations and discussions about the various issues. All we get are brief meetings in which they all vote in unison with minimal debate. Other local governance organizations, like city councils and school boards, all have work sessions. But the commissioners seem to think they’re above that. We cannot let their behavior stand. It’s undemocratic.

Jesse Ringness, candidate for HD66, and Stacey Agens at a pro-choice march in Frisco.

McKinney City Council: A solid waste management strategy presentation mentioned that only a fraction of apartment properties offer recycling to residents. Since nearly 25% of McKinney’s population lives in apartments, we need to do something fast to rectify that situation. We also need to increase opportunities for recycling at the city’s parks, public spaces, and special events. I can’t believe we haven’t done that already! Have you ever looked in trash cans at parks, athletic fields, and during special events? They’re filled to the brim with recyclable materials! Please contact council members to let them know we need to fix this!

The real upsetting news though was a decision made in Executive Session to authorize the city attorney to take civil action seeking compliance with all McKinney code violations on 800 N. Waddill Street, the home of Cabana Living Spaces owned by Vicki Baker. Perhaps this is legitimate but it certainly seems retaliatory because McKinney has a history with Baker.

In July of 2020, a man on the run with a 15-year-old girl barged into Baker’s home. Police were called, McKinney’s SWAT team was dispatched (why do we need a SWAT team?), and a standoff ensued. The man killed himself while inside but, in their efforts to get him out, SWAT did $50,000 worth of damage to the property. When Baker tried to get compensated by the city, she was told the police have complete immunity and they refused to pay. She sued.

In April, the judge rejected McKinney’s argument that police action should be categorically exempt from the general requirement that government pay for property it destroys, holding that the argument “rests on an untenable analysis of police power and eminent domain.” He said that because “the destruction to Baker’s home was intentional and foreseeable,” compensation was required. Damn straight! The police don’t get to do whatever they want without consequences. Since compensation was required, the jury awarded Baker $60,000. They gave her the amount of damages plus extra because McKinney’s refusal to pay violated her civil rights. Yep.

So the question is whether the civil action against Cabana Living Spaces is related to the court case. Is it the same Vicki Baker? If so, that’s despicable. If not, then you all read a good story about the need for police accountability.

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Comments 2

  1. Regarding Covid hospitalizations in Collin County, the number fell to 29 on April 16, and remained very low throughout April and most of May. In June it rose quite a bit. On July 11 the number of Covid hospitalizations in Collin County was 129.

  2. Re: Vicki Baker … I’m not sure it’s the same person, but if it is … BAD LOOK, McKinney, even if the code violations are true. You’d think the PR department would all over this.

    The Commissioners Court is run like Chris Hill’s royal fiefdom. Anyone who questions is bullied (or arrested) and all information is handed out by carefully curated reports. It’s the very definition of undemocratic.

    I wonder how most families will feel about Patterson controlling what their children can do on social media. You’re right, Misty, he is CREEPY in the way he obsesses over what children are looking at/reading.

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