Collin County Politics: Protest and Politics

July 19, 2022

Picture: Amy and Beto O’Rourke with HD66 candidate Jesse Ringness at the Texas Democratic convention.

Covid Update: Collin County has 235,472 confirmed Covid cases. That’s 3,050 more cases than I reported last week and 1,519 of our Collin residents have died (no additional deaths). Remember, that’s an undercount of new cases due to at-home testing.

There’s good news and bad news about Covid. The good news is that the newest variants aren’t as severe, which is why deaths are holding steady. However, the bad news is that hospital cases are rising again because the new variants are extremely contagious. Even those lucky enough to have a mild case can still take two weeks to fully recover and the actual illness itself can be tough with extreme fatigue and severe cold symptoms.

If that isn’t bad enough, more people are getting long COVID, including breathing problems and organ damage months after they were ill. An estimated 2.1 million Texans have long Covid. That’s 2.1 million people who need longer-term care, may be unable to work or attend school, and are desperate for help. In addition to their suffering, long Covid is putting further strain on a healthcare system already stretched to the limit, exacerbating nursing shortages. Y’all, this isn’t good.

Although healthcare officials have given up calling for more extreme measures like mask mandates, that doesn’t mean Covid is gone. I can’t tell you the number of people I know personally who’ve come down with Covid following airplane trips or from attending large group gatherings without masks. I was very disappointed to see pictures from the Texas Democratic Convention in Dallas and realize how few people (including Beto!!) wore masks. Come on, fellow Democrats! We’re supposed to be the party that does better.

Abortion: Does Ken Paxton wake up every day looking for ways to be more horrible? In response to the flood of stories about pregnant patients having life-saving care delayed due to hospital fears of getting sued, the Biden Administration released a reminder that physicians are protected by federal law to terminate a pregnancy as part of emergency treatment. Moreover, they threatened to defund hospitals that don’t perform these procedures. The administration also released a statement warning retail pharmacies that they must fill prescriptions for medication that can induce abortion or risk violating federal civil rights law. I mean, thank goodness there are still people in government who value women’s lives! Not Ken Paxton though.

On behalf of the state of Texas – and using our taxpayer dollars to do so – he filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming the Biden administration’s guidance violates the state’s “sovereign interest in the power to create and enforce a legal code.” Uh, terrible dude? We already fought one war over state’s rights and YOUR SIDE LOST! Even beyond that, you’re fighting for the right to condemn pregnant women to death based on the say-so of a bunch of mostly white male politicians. I can’t even believe I had to just write that! It’s so insane yet this is where we are.

One day after Paxton’s cruel lawsuit was filed, the Texas Medical Association asked state regulators to step in because they’re already getting complaints about hospital administrators and their lawyers preventing doctors from providing medical care to patients with pregnancy complications. What many anti-abortion people either didn’t realize or just don’t care about is that abortion is used for a lot more situations than just elective termination. It’s also a needed intervention for ectopic pregnancies, hypertension, preeclampsia, fetal death, incomplete miscarriages, and the potential death of the mother. If we keep going the way we have since the 6-week ban, women will die.

Thus far, we’ve already had a physician instructed to not treat an ectopic pregnancy until a rupture occurred, which puts patient health at serious risk, and two hospitals telling doctors to send pregnant patients home to “expel the fetus” if their water broke too soon, which can put them at risk of infection. Tragedy is inevitable. And it isn’t just that. How long will physicians put up with being between a rock and a hard place with regard to abortion? They can get sued or lose their medical license for not providing adequate care but also can face six-figure fines and be imprisoned for performing illegal abortions. I’m guessing we’ll soon see physicians retiring or moving to states where they aren’t put in legal jeopardy for providing care. This will exacerbate an already dangerous physician shortage. Thanks, Republicans!

Candidate for Attorney General Rochelle Garza’s speech on the big screen for those watching from afar.

Commissioner’s Court: All commissioners were present for the close to 2-hour meeting last week. Much of the time was spent listening to presentations about the salary rates of county prosecutors. Cynthia Jacobson, head of HR, gave her usual dry – and I do mean dry (she speaks in a monotone) – description of how Collin County’s salary range puts us in the 50% category as compared to other counties. This is where the commissioners want us to be. I don’t understand this strategy. There are currently 7 open positions for misdemeanor prosecutors. We’re bleeding county employees and can’t seem to hire people to replace them yet we want to be mediocre in our pay structure? Is that what’s going to attract new talent?

District Attorney Greg Willis doesn’t think so. In a move surprising to all but Susan Fletcher, Willis took time out of his day to tell the commissioners that if we want to compete with other counties, Collin needs to raise salaries for those jobs. Otherwise, new lawyers with student loan debt won’t be able to afford to start their careers in Collin County. But salaries aren’t the only reason for our staffing woes. Prosecutors also are leaving the DA’s office for other positions. According to HR data, the projected turnover for 2022 is 22% for attorneys. That’s up from a 12.5% turnover rate in 2021, a huge jump. According to Ms. Jacobson (who said she’s not worried about any of this), 74% of the lawyers in the DA’s office left for other job offers in 2021 which is up from 64% in 2020, another large increase. Something is clearly wrong.

I shouldn’t be surprised (after all, when do Republicans ever worry about worker’s rights?) but I continue to be disappointed by how little the commissioners care about their staffing problems. Sure, they hired 2 recruiters to help find more people to hire but they don’t seem to be making a difference. Chris Hill’s response to the lawyer problems was to make sure the high turnover rate was because they’re moving into the private sector. That way, at least in his small mind, the fault isn’t his. Typical Republican, always shifting the blame. But the fact is, the commissioners don’t know why ¾ of their prosecutors are leaving. They also don’t seem to know (or care) why their retention rate for county positions overall is so high.

We should care though. It’s our services – or lack thereof – that are being affected. Case in point: so many people I’ve talked to about rising Covid cases have been surprised to hear about it. You’d certainly never know about it from our county public health department. And if you wanted to find out information about county case numbers, testing, vaccines, or treatment options for Covid, good luck finding it on the county website. I’ve looked! This is not acceptable.

As I keep mentioning, two commissioner positions are on the ballot in November. Imagine what we could do with a court run by Josh Murray with Jeff Williams backing him up!

If we want to bring about real change, then the choice isn’t between protest and politics. We have to do both.

Barack Obama

Local Politics: I frequently sprinkle my conversations at the dog park with political talking points just to see the reaction (yes, I’m super fun). Based on this, I’ve come to believe that most Texans are either ignorant or willfully blind about what’s happening in our state. That’s why I frequently encourage readers to share the information in this column with their friends and family. Republicans and independents desperately need to hear it but other Democrats do too. If people know what’s happening at the local level, they’ll get more invested and are more likely to agree with you. No one wants the grid to fail. Hopefully, most want women to get the healthcare they deserve. Everyone likes water. Few strive to get Covid. This means that one of the most important things we can do (besides vote) is talk about the issues we face daily. That means being informed.

Since our national political landscape is a disaster and rapidly spiraling into fascism (seriously people, it’s practically here!), it’s imperative we focus on what we can control. All the experts talk about local politics as the most important area in the future. That means doing the hard work. We must be attending, listening to, and speaking at city councils, school boards, and commissioner courts. We must hold our elected (for now) representatives accountable. We must be informed.

You don’t have to do any of this alone. In fact, our strength is in our numbers. There is a structure and there is a plan for how we take back our cities, schools, counties, and (eventually) state. But you must show up! 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 2

  1. First of all, great picture of Beto, Amy, and our very own Jesse Ringness for HD66 (donate to him here: Second, the women-hating, secession-approving, climate-denying, racist-spewing Republicans ARE THE WORST. Plus, they’re incompetent at running our governments. If you ask the normal person if 50% is good enough, they’re going to say NO, that’s not even a passing grade … but not the Collin County Commissioners. That’s the grade they’re striving for. UGH.

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