Collin County Politics: Fighting Fascism Requires Untiring Effort

May 24, 2022

Picture: MADC Candidate Development & Support Chair Tonya Dangerfield with Carroll Robinson, candidate for Texas Democratic Party chair. He spoke at a recent MADC meeting.

Covid Update: Collin County has 217,571 confirmed Covid cases. That’s 1,401 more cases than I reported last week (a sharp increase) and 1,509 of our Collin residents have died (an increase of 1 person). Our transmission rate continues to be low but public health officials are worried we don’t have accurate data because many are either not testing at all or are testing at home and not reporting their positive test results. If you get a positive Covid test, please make sure the Public Health Department is notified.

School Board: In yet another example of the consequences of liberals staying silent and out of the fray, the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) decided to separate from the National School Boards Association (NSBA) over a letter NSBA wrote to President Biden in 2021. TASB is the state group representing the 1,024 public school boards in Texas. If you google “NSBA letter,” what comes up is a number of right-wing extremist publications talking about it. In fact, I had to visit the website of one of those groups to find the actual letter! That should tell you everything you need to know. But, in case you want the whole story, here it is.

In September of 2021, the NSBA wrote a letter to President Biden explaining the attacks on school boards across the country and asking for help dealing with them. They detailed a number of scary attacks, including hate mail and threatening letters to school board members, verbal threats at school board meetings, and angry mobs. They didn’t mention this specific incident but there was a video of a school board meeting in Virginia where a public health officer was yelled at and followed to his car, all for the crime of providing facts about Covid and public health. That’s the kind of thing the letter was talking about. The NSBA requested assistance in dealing with these things and labeled the incidents domestic terrorism. This was an accurate description but, as you might imagine, Republicans lost their minds over it.

I’m not sure how the details of the letter got out but of course, Ken Paxton got involved. That guy! You have to wonder how “fiscally conservative” Republicans explain how his constant lawsuits are good for taxpayers. Yes, I know, that would require critical thinking skills. In March, Paxton joined more than a dozen Republican attorneys general and sued the Biden administration to force it to release correspondence with NSBA leaders related to the letter. I’m sure none of the AGs had any other pressing state business to attend to.

When details of the letter went public, Republicans immediately went on the offensive, bristling at the very idea that they should have consequences for their terrible and threatening behavior. Many state associations discontinued their relationship with NSBA. I mean, how dare they ask for help in dealing with fascist mobs who don’t care about public education! Whatever possessed them to want assistance in keeping school board members, teachers, students, and sane community members safe? Apparently, free-for-alls are perfectly fine. I hear they worked well in Nazi Germany. If anyone offered support for NSBA’s valid fears and accurate identification of domestic terrorists, I didn’t hear about it. The NSBA quickly buckled under the pressure. They apologized, changed leadership, launched an investigation, and implemented new policy directives.

That wasn’t enough for the TASB though because of course it wasn’t. It’s Texas. Yes, I’m entirely disgusted but, sadly, not at all surprised. We only care about the rights of rich people, corporations who do Republican bidding, guns, and private schools. The safety of our public schools isn’t high on our list of priorities. Clearly.

I wrote the above paragraph before the Uvalde school shooting but I’m not changing it. This is what I was talking about.

I’m also deeply saddened but not surprised we have yet another school shooting in Texas. This time, it’s 19 elementary school students and 2 teachers dead. Don’t let Republicans off the hook for this. There’s one party that promotes gun safety and that’s us. Republicans are the ones determined to let anyone anywhere anytime have any kind of gun. I’m so sick of this. I’ve written about gun violence nine times – Texas politicians, Parkland, the need for mental health treatment, Tucson, Newtown, Fort Hood, Florida State, Aurora, Ohio – and I’d like to stop. When is it going to be enough?

Commissioner’s Court: Miracle of all miracles, all 5 commissioners showed up last week for the 23-minute meeting. During the Consent Agenda, Duncan Webb went off-script and actually discussed why he wanted to pull a few items. This is new! One item had to do with their contract with Southwest Correctional Medical Group to provide inmate health care for $461,000. This was a request for increased wages and additional funding that he wondered about when he looked at the item THIS MORNING. Seriously, does he just cram right before the meeting? Do they all? That’s reassuring. Webb said the wage increase is outside the contract terms and he’s “philosophically opposed” to this because Purchasing has denied additional payment because of increased costs to other vendors. OK but are other vendors dealing directly with people’s healthcare?

Similarly, Webb was opposed to voting for the $102,904 for increased medical costs associated with the Juvenile Detention Center. According to him, $77,868 of this is due to a change in staffing approved by their Juvenile Board and if they want to make a change in staffing mid-year, they should use their own funds and not come to the court for help. Webb insisted this is a contract issue and they should adhere to the terms in it.

This seems disingenuous. With all the difficulties in finding good employees these days – most especially in healthcare – I imagine the Juvenile Board had to offer an increase. And while they may have the money in their budget to cover the increased costs, what other things will they have to do without in order to accommodate? It’s things like this that make you understand why the county is having so much trouble recruiting and retaining talent. By the way, if you don’t like the way Webb was minimizing the importance of healthcare for those in the county’s care, you can do something about it. Jeff Williams, the Democrat running against him, is someone who cares deeply for others.

The other item Webb disagreed with is paying $25,000 for annual membership in Tex-21 (apparently a lobbying group) because he hasn’t seen any benefits from participating in it. He’d rather use the funds to join NACO (National Association of Counties). which was instrumental in getting us CARES and ARPA funds without having to go through the state. I had to look up what NACO stands for since no one explained the acronym. That’s just one more example of them not being transparent. Annual dues for NACO are $8,069, a significant saving.

Susan Fletcher agreed with Webb but wanted to know more about NACO before voting on it although she was pleased to discover they’re working on a solution for healthcare benefits for county retirees from the time they retire until they hit 65 and can get Medicare. It’s great to know how deeply she’s concerned about the healthcare of county employees but does virtually nothing about the healthcare of those with limited means. Typical Republican. Cheryl Williams also wasn’t in favor of continuing membership in Tex-21 and self-righteously said she hasn’t been for some time. Given her long-held belief, it’s odd she hasn’t mentioned it before. Apparently, she’s been fine with wasting $25,000 until someone else took issue with it. What incredible leadership!

Remember how I wondered last week just what the commissioners do to earn their high salaries? Well, this week I confirmed how Chris Hill spends his time: harassing constituents and other elected officials. While poll greeting, McKinney Area Democratic Club President and friend of the column, Liz Michel, asked Hill how many employees the county has. The two then engaged in an exchange in which he asked her why she’s being so ugly to him and then proceeded to call her sweetie and a hot mess. I heard the whole conversation and can assure you she wasn’t being ugly at all; she was merely asking him a question, one Josh Murray has been trying to get the answer to for weeks. Liz is a constituent of Hill’s and has every right to ask him questions about the state of Collin County.

Unfortunately, Hill has such thin skin that he cannot tolerate uncomfortable questions or even the slightest bit of disagreement. That’s why he’s made it so that only his cheerleaders have access to him. If we want answers, the rest of us have to talk to him when we see him out in public (gag). That’s deeply problematic. It’s also unacceptable for Hill to be overtly misogynistic to his female constituents. I’d love to see him call a man sweetie or a hot mess but it would never happen. And Hill needs to do away with his whiny baby attitude. He’s a politician and it’s our job as citizens to participate in government. If he can’t handle the heat, he should get out of the kitchen.

More evidence of Hill’s misogyny and lack of leadership is in how he’s treated District Clerk Lynne Finley. Last year, Hill spied upon and stole emails from Finley in an effort to demonstrate that she wasn’t doing her job. Finley is an elected official and is not in any way beholden to Hill. And then there’s the fact that he was wrong. Like the majority of the country, she was working remotely. Hill got humiliated when his attempt to bully her backfired on him, so now he’s trying a different tactic.

Finley is involved in a lawsuit involving problems with her mortgage company. In his continuing efforts to smear her, Hill sent out an email on May 17th giving inaccurate information about it. Although he sent it via his “campaign” email, it’s basically his official one since he doesn’t have a formal one. In the email, Hill gives information he says is part of the publically available case file but, in fact, is not. He also said that he was called to testify in the case. That’s not true either. Her lawyer asked him to submit to questioning about his level of involvement in obtaining material not available to the public. That’s quite different, isn’t it?

I don’t care about Finley (vote for Alyssa Dequeant in November!) but I do care that Hill is using the influence and reach of his office to obtain documents not available to the public, just as he did when he stole her emails. He’s also using his official communication channels to influence the lawsuit (since a lot of prospective jurors might see it) and an election. He sent the email the day after early voting began in a run-off election in which Finley is on the ballot. So, he’s trying to influence the court case and an election. This seems like it should be illegal. And I have to wonder if he would go to all this trouble if she were a man. I have no doubt Hill’s awful to anyone who opposes him but he seems to reserve his extreme vitriol for women.

Democratic colleagues, this woman-hating, know-nothing baby is who we have in charge of our county. It’s intolerable. If we want a true leader at the helm, then support Josh Murray‘s campaign and make plans to take 5 friends with you to vote for him in November.

Allen City Council: While this isn’t an issue for the city council yet, it soon will be. Last Saturday, an extreme right-wing group led by Cee Rose hung their repulsive banners across the Exchange Bridge overpass off of 75 in Allen. They were advertising the Big Lie that Trump won the 2020 election. This is weird because their invitation to attend specifically said it was to protest the injustice against the “patriots” who’ve been mistreated by our school boards. I guess they’re not true to their word, even to their own people. Given what they’re promoting, perhaps they don’t view lying as particularly bad. Typical. This crew has draped their stupid banners before but this time, a guy placed a Nazi flag to the left of their banners.

The rightwing extremists were incensed – incensed I say – that this guy had the nerve to make them look bad! When the police were called, they said he wasn’t with them and they were disgusted by his flag. They even claimed this guy said he was a “liberal Democrat.” Uh-huh. Sure. I’m shocked Antifa wasn’t mentioned. I have no sympathy for the extremists. None. They were upset that someone took their awful rhetoric to its ultimate conclusion? They either don’t understand what it is they’re promoting or they’re being disingenuous. Since I don’t believe they’re good actors, what’s left is brainwashing and a lack of critical thinking.

Whatever their reasons, the city council needs to address this situation head-on. Things in Allen appear to be getting worse and they can no longer ignore this escalation. Silence is complicity; we can’t let them forget it.

Frisco School Board: I feel really sorry for school personnel. In addition to already having an incredibly difficult job, they’ve been on the frontlines of both the pandemic and the culture wars. They all must be both angry and exhausted. Some of this exhaustion bled through an email Superintendent Dr. Mike Waldrip sent last week.

The email began with the usual statement about not allowing inappropriate sexually explicit content in the schools and a reminder about the law forbidding the removal of books solely for unpopular viewpoints. But then he delivered some interesting news. Waldrip stated that district librarians identified one professional review publication that has positively reviewed titles with inappropriate content. As a result, they’ve drafted new guidelines and policies they’ll present to the board in June. Library staff will also re-evaluate titles selected under the old guidelines and additional staff will be hired to support this effort. This is disappointing and somewhat dangerous, especially given the huge exodus of teachers and the decreased funding from the state. Instead of spending money to retain or recruit excellent teachers, FISD is instead choosing to appease right-wing extremists (just like TASB).

Then the fun part of the email started as he took to task idiotic Representative Jared Patterson for being a power-hungry bully. OK, Waldrip said it more nicely but that’s the gist. He detailed how the district tried to work with Patterson but he disregarded the facts and took to social media with disinformation instead. In a paragraph that has to get under Patterson’s thin skin, Waldrip described how they refused to sign his pledge not to do business with certain vendors because it’s neither wise nor feasible. He continued to double down on Patterson by asking the community “to please not follow Representative Patterson’s example” and work with the district instead of against it.

The awful dynamic in Frisco hasn’t gone unnoticed by the larger community. When the Dallas Morning News editorial board (which leans right) publishes an op-ed telling a city their schools are in trouble because of rightwing extremists, you know it’s serious. While I was glad to see it, the op-ed was still incredibly lacking. For an article written by reporters, you’d think they’d have done some digging and revealed that the extremists are funded and organized by right-wing think tanks. They didn’t. Perhaps that was a bridge too far. They also published this AFTER the municipal elections when it’s too late to change the composition of the school board. Too little, too late if you ask me. So….thanks for something I guess, Dallas Morning News? If you want to help save our country, you’re going to have to do better.

Frisco ISD had another fun moment last week when a senior prank at Frisco Memorial High School went awry despite staff members being present. Students were supposed to place Post-It notes around campus but this somehow turned into overturned tables, security cameras covered in plastic, paint on the walls, destruction of furniture, and discharged fire extinguishers. Both the fire and police departments were called. The students caused thousands of dollars of damage to the school and the last 2 days of the semester were canceled due to unsafe air quality. Since Stephanie Elad was sworn in the same night as the debacle, I’m going to say it’s her fault.

One bright spot though was HD 66 candidate Jesse Ringness who decided to highlight the hardworking group of people who were tasked with cleaning up the students’ mess. I suppose it would’ve been too great of a liability to make the students do it (too bad because they absolutely should’ve had to), so these folks stepped up. I sure hope they were paid overtime! Labor issues are an incredibly important part of any Democratic platform, so check out Jesse’s video.

Democracy is never a final achievement. It is a call to an untiring effort.

John F. Kennedy

Local Politics: Today is Election Day and I went to the John and Judy Gay Library to support our brave Democratic poll greeters. It was a zoo. Almost every local Republican candidate was there along with their supporters and a million of their signs. Walking up to the library was like crossing a gauntlet. It was intimidating. Library personnel had to remind them several times to keep back to the 100-foot barrier. I watched a number of people try to get through as fast as they could. Many Republican poll greeters were meandering in the parking lot waiting to pounce on unsuspecting voters and library patrons and making it difficult for cars to get through. Several had tents set up specifically to hang signs.

In 2017, I was poll greeting and was told by the Parks and Rec Department that it was illegal to have a temporary structure on public land. I was forced to take down the tent we were using to keep out of the heat. Interestingly, Code Enforcement has been by the Gay Library several times and hasn’t made them take down their structures. Either that’s OK and they lied to me or it isn’t OK and they’re allowing Republicans to violate the rules. That seems like another “Rules for thee, not for me” situation and it’s unacceptable.

Democratic colleagues, we don’t have to live like this. We outnumber the right-wing extremists! If we vote in every election, we can have the community we want. But we must show up!

As JFK said, democracy requires unceasing effort and all of us need to step up and do more. One important and interesting thing you can do is 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. I love this picture of Tonya & Carroll. I’m glad he came to our event to speak! I can attest to your comment that Gay Library was a zoo. It was disgraceful and it was ALL Republicans acting the fools.

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