Collin County Politics: If You Aren’t Worried, You’re Not Paying Attention

September 28, 2021

Covid Update: Collin County has 122,807 confirmed Covid cases. That’s 1,999 more cases than I reported last week and 1,004 of our Collin residents have died.

Although the delta surge is supposed to be cresting, we’re still in the middle of the crises in our hospitals, especially with burned-out healthcare professionals. Many have quit, retired, or moved. The lack of staff then affects how many ICU beds are available. For some reason, people keep thinking it’s about the actual beds. It isn’t. This is about staffing. You can lay in a bed all you want but if you don’t have a healthcare professional to tend to you, it won’t matter. In Texas, we were short on nurses before the pandemic and it’s even worse now.

Many healthcare professionals are suffering from PTSD, compassion fatigue, and exhaustion. They’re turning to mental healthcare professionals for assistance even as we’re overloaded with the rise in depression and anxiety, grief, suicidal thoughts, and myriad family issues. We also had a shortage prior to the pandemic and are in worse straits now. There’s going to be hell to pay for this in the healthcare field and for years! I sure wish the unvaxxed and anti-maskers would think about that but they don’t tend to be long-term thinkers.

Collin County: Collin County is making both state-wide and national news since we’re the largest Republican county in Texas. That’s why we’re a battleground for both electoral shenanigans and redistricting.

In a bid to be Trump’s favorite lapdog, Governor Greg Abbott decided the Texas Secretary of State (a position currently unfilled) will conduct a “forensic audit” of the 2020 election results in Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, and Harris counties. The counties were selected because they are the two largest Democrat counties and the two largest Republican counties. However, since President Joe Biden narrowly won Tarrant County, Collin County is the only one of the four that Trump won.

As of this moment, we have no idea what the audit will entail, who will conduct it, or when it will take place. The county judges for both Dallas and Harris counties were out in front questioning the relevance of this audit. Tarrant County officials remained silent while our county judge (Chris Hill) let elections administrator Bruce Sherbet speak for us. This audit is nothing more than an attempt to undermine Texans’ trust in the electoral process.

With Republicans in control of both the state House and Senate, we knew redistricting was going to be bad. In the past, every Texas redistricting plan has been either changed or tossed out by a federal court after being found in violation of the Voting Rights Act. While Republicans have said they’re going to draw fair boundaries, we’d be fools to believe them. And Collin County is uppermost in their minds as we could get one of the two new congressional districts.

The new state senate proposal bolsters SD8 for Republicans, which would help incumbent Angela Paxton. You should check out the article. It has a disgusting picture of the Paxtons, with him smirking in the background while her hands look enormous. SD8 had been trending in favor of Democrats, so of course, they want to put a stop to that. They also want to strengthen CD3 in favor of Van Taylor.

Our only hope of a fair electoral map is if the U.S. Senate passes the voting rights bills. Otherwise, we’re in trouble. We absolutely must continue our voter registration work!

Collin College: Backed by the National Education Association, former Collin College professor Suzanne Jones filed a federal lawsuit against the college, President Neil Matkin, and Senior VP of Campus Operations Toni Jenkins. She claims she was illegally fired for making use of her First Amendment rights and her right to organize. Dr. Jones is highly accomplished in her field and held in great esteem by her colleagues, students, and (before Matkin showed up) by Collin College itself. Keep your fingers crossed for her victory. It’s important to note that Dr. Jones couldn’t undertake such an expensive and time-consuming process without the help of a teacher’s union. That’s just one of 1,000 reasons why we need to change Texas from a “right to work” state to one that’s welcoming to workers and labor unions.

Commissioner’s Court: Last week’s meeting was brief, taken up mostly by transportation issues. At the start of Covid in March of 2020, the number of people using public transportation dropped far below 50% and has just now rebounded to about 50% of pre-Covid numbers. This makes sense. A lot of people are still working from home while others may be avoiding mass transit due to safety concerns. However, officials are panicking. One even suggested the D2 Project – the subway project that would be the 2nd line for downtown Dallas – be dropped and the funds allocated elsewhere. This seems premature. It would be more fiscally responsible to wait for Covid to actually be over (which it currently is not) before making such a big decision based on ridership that will likely increase once people feel safe again. There’s that pesky long-term thinking again. Goodness knows the DFW area needs more public transportation! I wonder if having an enforced mask mandate on public transportation would help people feel safe enough to start using it again.

In more evidence of Texas not using their money wisely, it came to light that TXDOT allowed $73 million of funding to lapse last year. Their policy of using federal funds first (because they’ll evaporate if not used) was forgotten. I find it so odd such an important policy was just forgotten or ignored; there must be more to the story. Transportation authorities across the state have been assured it won’t happen again but, just to be safe, staff will provide monthly information.

The HOV lane on 75 will be changed. Everyone will be able to use it now but there will be monetary incentives to drivers for carpooling during rush hours (2 hours in the morning and evening). The funding ($10 million) is in place to pay users and should be approved next month. I doubt this will do much to combat climate change. How many electric cars, incentives for public transportation use, and additional public transit vehicles would $10 million fund? It would help if the city of Allen would agree to allow DART to have a stop there so it can continue into some of the northern-most communities.

McKinney City Council: They had a kerfuffle over term limits and appointments to the boards and commissions. I’d love to pick on McKinney for an unfair process that isn’t equitable in terms of demographics, residential area, and length of service but I’m sure other city councils do the same (I know the Commissioner’s Court does). Serving on boards and commissions tends to be a stepping stone into leadership positions, so we need to not only apply for participation but also keep an eye on how these positions are selected. Justin Beller asked for a work session on the procedures in order to make it better represent the residents.

The council debated on whether to adopt a policy with regard to Public Improvement Districts (PIDs) within McKinney. PIDs are a special district that the legislature authorized to fund public improvements, specifically special benefits to the property subject to the PID. They’re becoming more common in North Texas although there are definitely drawbacks. Since they’re not infrastructure-related, they can be difficult to explain to residents, especially when they realize they’re paying fees other residents are not. Moreover, if the project goes belly-up and the PID fees are not complete, the debt would have to be satisfied, perhaps by selling the asset (the property). The debt would not impact the city’s bond capacity or credit rating, but the city would be issuing the notes and would have to satisfy the debt. This is different from a Municipal Utility District (MUDs), in which the bonds are issued by a different entity and the city has nothing to do with the debt.

Beller pointed out that, if a PID is not paid, the city would have to foreclose. Charlie Philips added that the PID assessments cannot be factored into a mortgage, so the property owners would be responsible for paying them without a loan. Beller continued his rock star ways by saying he doesn’t like granting a governmental power (like collecting taxes) to a developer and believes it may lead to an imbalance in housing offerings. Yeah, I definitely don’t want developers to have any more power than they already do.

Later in the meeting, Beller mentioned he’d like to see the council put the same amount of effort into beginning a comprehensive housing plan as they did into developing procedures for PIDs (which haven’t even been used in McKinney yet). He fears we’re going to “get what we get” with housing because of where we put our efforts. This is an excellent point. Many of the cities in Collin are just winging it rather than creating an inclusive housing plan.

Plano School Board: Despite evidence that most people are in favor of masks (given the low number of opt-outs and results of public opinion polls) and that the mask mandate was working (positive cases in PISD have declined by 2/3), the majority of the board decided to eliminate it. The vote not to extend the mandate was 4-3 with President David Stolle, Angela Powell, Heather Wang, and Cody Weaver voting against public health and safety.

The willful ignorance and political pandering among these members was staggering. Stolle tried to play both ends against the middle by saying that he believes masks work when worn properly but doesn’t believe students wear masks effectively (if they can enforce dress code, they can enforce proper mask-wearing) and trends aren’t significantly different between mask mandating and non-mask mandating districts. That’s not true. His own district provided evidence that masks work!

Weaver apparently has never encountered teenagers since he claimed letting the mandate expire will not affect the current mask-wearing patterns among students. Has he never heard of peer pressure? I know he’s experienced it (he’s a Republican). He later added that medical professionals don’t have data to back up their claims. This is absolutely a lie and I wish he’d get called on it by the media. According to this genius, all experts did to become experts was go to school and learn about stuff (umm…isn’t that supposed to be what he supports given that he’s on the school board?); their opinions are just their best-educated guesses. Even if that’s true (which it isn’t), I’d still take their best-educated guesses over the uninformed ranting of the selfish.

I would’ve thought Weaver would take the cake for the most ridiculous comments but that award went to Wang. I don’t know what her doctorate is in but it isn’t science and it can’t be critical thinking. In addition to her ridiculous suggestion (an opt-in policy for masks), she actually said (out loud!) that she cares about children’s health and every death is tragic, but you have to put things into perspective. Whoa! How do you put “into perspective” children getting sick and dying unnecessarily? Whoever runs against her needs to hammer that one home.

To add insult to injury, Plano ISD isn’t going to use Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds – federal Covid relief given to schools for addressing the impacts of Covid – to combat the negative effects of the pandemic. Instead, they’re going to use it to fund an accelerated learning requirement for students who did not pass the STAAR test. Due to HB 4545, students not passing the STAAR are no longer held back by the state. Instead, in a switch from Abbott’s attempts to subvert local control, retention and grade placement decisions are given back to local boards. Plano ISD is not the only local entity to use their Covid relief funds for projects only tangentially related to Covid (see previous columns for what the Commissioner’s Court is using theirs for!) but it’s still disgusting.

Richardson School Board: President Karen Clardy resigned suddenly, sending a short letter to fellow trustees noting she would step down immediately but not saying why. Perhaps it has something to do with the amount of pressure public officials doing the right thing are facing from unreasonable citizens. This is happening across the country, with many officials resigning after receiving death threats against them and their families. It’s absolutely unacceptable to allow this to continue. We need to insist law enforcement take such threats seriously.

There are ways to respectfully protest unpopular decisions. Democrats know this because we do it all the time. Giving into mob rule is dangerous. Not only does it embolden people to become even uglier but It often leads to experienced and rational officials leaving, opening the door to those less qualified and more evil.

The rest of the RISD trustees will discuss Clardy’s resignation at their next meeting. They could decide to appoint another board member to fill the remainder of her term or hold a special election.

Comments 12

  1. This is the best, only really, political truth-telling journalism anywhere. This shows the ruling junta for what it is because there is nothing interpreted, guessed at or assumed. There is no need for interpretation when the opposition writes the scripts, acts the parts and makes their true intentions plain and indelible via digital recording.

    So, Misty and her crew have solved the content problem and the production/editorial problem. The next step is the distribution problem; market penetration.
    Is anyone interested in this next step?
    This is going to be new, not an added burden to Misty’s work, but in support of it. I’m thinking way, way beyond the current footprint; an exponential force multiplier using an available, incredibly sharp weapon with a modest reach to cut farther and deeper.
    If anything can reach and activate sleeping Democrats it is Misty’s work.

    Thank you Misty and all who work with her.

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      Gregg, thank you so much for the kind words. It is indeed my hope that we use these reports to activate people to work harder to create the wonderful society we know is possible.

  2. The accelerated learning use of funding by PISD is appropriate as it addresses the negative effect of remote learning required during earlier COVID time. Since that effect was racially and economically disproportionate, it appears that assistance in making up resulting learning gaps is appropriate use of the funding referenced.

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      Thanks for the information. I’d agree that accelerated learning is needed to address disparities in Covid impact but I’m not thrilled they’re tying it to the STAAR test.

  3. Thanks for your well-researched article. Real information always rules misinformation.

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  4. Thank you Misty for all of the informative and important politics going on right here. It is sometimes hard to believe the dangerous direction we are taking with Covid, and all the areas you covered in the article. In addition to The Rally, maybe we need a free magazine on Collin County politics advertising liberal businesses, events, and organizations with your articles (like the Observer). Thanking you educating us, I like your style.

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      Thank you so much for the kind words. I’d love for the articles to get wider readership because too many people don’t know what’s going on. If they did, they might get involved.

  5. Wait till you hear about what happened last night at the allen school board. Astonishing both outside at the protest where boogaloo boys showed up, and inside too

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  6. Your articles are always so informative. I wish I could say they’re uplifting but they’re not. This state is just going downhill as fast as the Republicans can push it.

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