Collin County Politics: New Year, New Momentum

January 11, 2022

Covid Update: Collin County has 158,256 confirmed Covid cases. That’s 21,998 more cases than I reported in the 3 weeks since I last tracked cases and 1,227 of our Collin residents have died (an increase of 29 people). Remember how I said omicron is coming? Well, it’s here and it’s a doozy. If you think you’ve been exposed or are experiencing symptoms, I’d tell you to get tested but good luck finding one that doesn’t have a huge wait. And if you’re uninsured in Collin County, you’re definitely on your own. That’s our tax dollars not working for us. For some reason, our county commissioners believe having a few extra dollars in our pockets is better than being able to access the Covid tests we need to keep omicron from spreading. Please let them know that’s not the case. If you really want to get under their skin, tell them that once again, the Biden administration is coming to the rescue as home tests will now be covered by insurance and will be offered for free later this month.

Although the Republicans aren’t making it easy for us, the best thing we can do is stay home as much as possible, avoid large crowds like the plague (see what I did there?), and wear a KN95 or N95 mask. I truly don’t know how much more our healthcare system can take as 1 in 5 healthcare workers have quit since the start of the pandemic. Even the 1,000 traveling nurses coming to help won’t be able to fill the gaping holes. It’s not just hospitals feeling the strain. Beds in rehab and skilled nursing facilities are being taken up by the slow recovery of post-Covid patients, so new post-Covid patients have nowhere to go. And the influx of Covid patients is causing other types of procedures – including needed surgeries and cancer treatments – to be delayed. Thanks, unvaccinated people! You’re the gift that keeps on giving!

Commissioner’s Court: The court was back from break in its usual stomach-turning form. CD4 Representative Pat Fallon showed up to waste everyone’s time talking extensively about nonsense. I had a hard time listening to him because he was so awful but I did appreciate that Fallon makes Van Taylor (my congressional representative), appear less odious. This is a real accomplishment since Taylor is why we have guns on college campuses. However, even that dipwad isn’t horrible enough for the current GOP as they’re primarying him from the right. Yikes! I was startled to hear Fallon say something I agree with: “If Americans aren’t safe, then we’re not free.” Yes, that’s exactly right! Of course, he was talking about the border but I’m sure he’d admit that applies to public health crises as well. Just kidding! He’d never agree that having freedom involves responsibility. Republicans aren’t big on personal accountability but they’re definitely all-in on being selfish. If I never hear from that Fallon idiot ever again, it’ll be too soon.

Justice of the Peace Paul Raleeh asked about moving the monthly foreclosure property sale to the courthouse steps so the influx of people in the building won’t disrupt work. While Raleeh wants attendees to be able to go to the bathroom, he doesn’t like them congregating (once a month) in front of his office. Listening to Raleeh talk made me wonder about the qualifications for JP. Basically, you have to be a US citizen over the age of 18 and have lived in Texas for a year. That’s it. This position has a great deal of power over people’s lives – everything from truancy and tenant disagreements (which often means evictions) to minor criminal cases and civil disputes – and definitely needs someone with empathy and education. Raleeh has served in JP1 for 20 years and is up for re-election. He has a primary challenger but whoever wins there will run uncontested in the general election. Fellow Democrats, we have to do better! If you think you have what it takes to do this job, start planning your campaign now.

During their long executive session, the commissioners discussed the $600,000 settlement to former judge Suzanne Wooten who was treated terribly by Collin County and certain individuals, including John Roach Senior (whose son is currently on the bench) and then-Attorney General Greg Abbott. If there’s an abuse of power Abbott doesn’t like, I haven’t seen it yet. In 2011, Wooten was convicted of several felonies, kicked off her judicial bench and stripped of her law license but was exonerated in 2017. In 2018, she filed a federal civil lawsuit. She said she was targeted “for not playing ball with the powers that be.” She claimed there was “pressuring of witnesses, destruction of evidence and a clear misuse and abuse of the grand jury process.”

She appears to have been right. At least five grand juries were used to gather evidence before Wooten was indicted even though (in 2009) one grand jury sent a letter to the presiding judge, stating it thought the case “was unnecessary, a waste of taxpayer dollars and that no crime had been committed.” So regular citizens tried to warn Collin County they were being fiscally unsound but they didn’t listen. As a result, our tax dollars – the very ones Chris Hill claims to value so much – are going to Wooten. Frankly, she deserves all that and more. If putting her through so much misery wasn’t enough, the county GOP refused to put her name on the 2020 Republican primary ballot, citing her conviction (which was no longer true) and Wooten was forced to drop out of the race. That’s the Collin County Republicans for you: if you don’t go along with their plans, they’ll try to destroy you.

After their executive session, Cynthia Jacobson from Human Resources gave a presentation addressing their recruitment issue. She did some fun with math to tell them what we’ve been telling them all along: our turnover rate is high (42%). She addressed the “but they’re retirees!” idea floated by Cheryl Williams by pointing out that while more people are retiring, the number isn’t significant. Throughout her presentation, it was evident that HR has no idea how to truly do a comprehensive survey to get to the heart of the matter. Take the retirees issue for example. There may be more people retiring but no one seemed to be curious about why. I doubt they asked the retirees if they’d planned on retiring this year anyway or if they retired early in order to get away from a toxic environment.

In addition to rapidly losing people, we’re also struggling to find new hires as there’s a much smaller number of new applicants applying for county jobs. It’s taking over 4 months to fill a position, especially in the sheriff’s department. Chris Hill actually asked if this decrease in applicants to the sheriff’s department is because of “liberal Democrats” trying to defund the police. I’d ask if he’s just stupid but you already know my answer. I hate to break it to Hill that people choosing not to apply to a department that’s known to be toxic isn’t defunding anything. Plus, if he thinks “defund the police” means simply not filling positions, he clearly doesn’t understand the meaning of that phrase.

Jacobson looked into where applicants and new hires are coming from. Most are coming from the website because job fairs, employee referrals, and outside vendors (like Monster or Indeed) don’t show much gain. They didn’t hire a single person from their college recruiting efforts. Although HR is largely ineffective at getting people to apply, Jacobson said we don’t need a recruiter, we just need someone to build up the number of people coming in to apply. No one pointed out that this is exactly what a recruiter does but the commissioners did vote to hire 2 recruiters (one for the sheriff’s department and one for all the other departments).

Jacobson’s analysis of office environment issues was superficial at best. She casually mentioned that many supervisors have left, which sounds like an atmosphere problem. But instead of addressing the actual issue – or at least discovering what it even is – future considerations focused on work from home policies (which all the large surrounding counties already do but Collin does not), letting employees wear jeans, and providing funding for employee appreciation. However, they did discuss possibly revamping the paid time off system and offering higher salaries (moving from 50% of market value to 75%). Darryl Hale isn’t in favor of increasing PTO though because he doesn’t know of anyone who takes their full amount of PTO now. Again, their lack of curiosity is exasperating. Why are employees not taking their full amount of time off? Is it due to overwork or the belief that if they do, they’ll get in trouble? I doubt it’s because people love their jobs that much.

After 2 hours, the Nutbag Squad showed up for public comments. They must have a lot of time on their hands because some of their group are taking it upon themselves to canvas neighborhoods to determine if there’s been voter fraud. So, if crazy Republicans show up at your door demanding to know how many registered voters are in your house, slam the door in their face! They continued to waste time by yammering on about election integrity, offering “alternative facts” and suggesting the commissioners do things that aren’t legally possible for them to do. Mark Brugge even asked Sheriff Skinner to open an investigation into voter fraud! Uh, that guy can barely manage his job as it is! He’s not going to be off chasing imagined complaints.

I would’ve brushed it all off as the Crazy Train except for two interesting takeaways. First, Chris Hill spent the last 20 minutes of the meeting actively engaged with these 3 people, asking questions and treating their concerns as if they have a basis in reality. He said he too is worried about election integrity. Second, when Hill asked Brugge to stop interrupting him, he said, “Oh sorry, Chris.” Although it’s possible Brugge was just being overly familiar (and he quickly corrected himself), it sure looks like Hill is friends with these people. That seems dangerous. 2021 started off with these crazies trying to overturn our democracy. It looks like they’re starting 2022 beating the same drum. This is why we must remain vigilant.

Frisco City Council: Frisco is starting their special election for the vacancy for Frisco City Council Place 5, the seat vacated by Dan Stricklin. Although municipal races are the ones that impact our lives the most and are elections in which our votes truly count, many voters sit them out. This is a mistake. If Democrats show up in large numbers to vote, we can turn this seat blue! Although this is a non-partisan race, the candidate who most aligns with Democratic values is Tracie Shipman, who has the experience, leadership abilities, and inclusivity that’s required for Frisco. Early voting is going on now! Don’t sit this one out!

McKinney City Council: McKinney is in the midst of a special election to fill the At Large seat left by Frederick Frazier. As I mentioned above, since municipal racers historically have low turnouts, this is an election where your vote can make a HUGE difference! Although this is a non-partisan race, the candidate who most aligns with Democratic values is Patrick Cloutier, who has the experience and heart for service. If he knows that Democrats are the ones who got him elected, we’ll have a seat at the table! Election Day is January 15th from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. Please vote!!

Richardson School Board: Rather than try to keep schools open with a wing and a prayer (like almost all the other ISDs in Collin County), Richardson ISD remains a community leader by requiring masks through January. The school board and interim superintendent took a clear-eyed view of the numerous Covid cases amongst students and staff and decided to actually do something about it. Plano School Board should definitely follow suit, especially since some parents and students are demanding it.

Liberal Women’s Action Network (LWAN): If you enjoy reading these columns, please join LWAN (men welcome). It’s a new year and we need eyes on our local politicians now more than ever! Democracy dies in darkness, so please step up to save our country! Anyone can do this work (even from home) and I promise it’s interesting. Please contact me at and let me know if you’re willing.

Comments 2

  1. I watched the Commissioner’s Court video myself and I simply could not believe how embarrassing and dangerous the partisan rhetoric was.. as usual,, we are uncovered. Thanks, Dr. Misty Hook!

  2. Thank you … your two new nicknames “Nutjob Squad” and “Crazy Train” are right on the money. These people are delusional or at least live in an alternate reality of their own creation. The sad part is our county commissioners seem willing to go along for the crazy train ride.

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