Collin County Politics: Protest is American

May 10, 2021

Commissioner’s Court: The public comments continue to be gold. The first speaker commented on the double standard of police behavior. During a recent protest for justice for Marvin Scott III, a huge white man named David Godber (you’d be excused for thinking he should be called Goober) threatened and assaulted some of the protesters. He was aggressive with a police officer, swatted a phone out of one woman’s hand, and swatted at another. He cocked his fist like he was going to hit someone and, to top it all off, was concealed carrying (of course he was). However, the Plano police did nothing and let him go without so much as a ticket. The speaker concluded that we expect the police to intervene when we tell them we’re being threatened. Chris Hill responded, “I’ll just point out that what you’re doing is actually illegal.” Besides the fact that the protest was not illegal, it’s against the rules for commissioners to comment on public comments that don’t refer to items on the agenda. So, in addition to Hill being wrong (a common occurrence), even his speaking was against the rules.

Other speakers schooled Hill on the error of his ways. One pointed out that Hill didn’t show any concern for the legal, peaceful protesters or police officers being threatened by a man who had no problem being aggressive towards women and children. Another mentioned that Hill is not, in fact, a real judge (he’s a CPA), so he has no authority to make a determination of legality. He scolded the commissioners for not listening to citizens who take the time to come (on a Monday in the middle of the workday when few can attend) and talk. The commissioners do indeed need to listen to citizens. The ONLY oversight this “court” has is from the people who elect them which means they work for us. A third citizen wondered why, if the protests are illegal, no one’s been arrested. She mentioned that the First Amendment gives the right for citizens to peacefully assemble and pointed out that the reason why Godber wasn’t arrested or ticketed is because of systemic racism.

Another citizen educated the court on the benefits of an expanded mental health crisis team. She discussed the RIGHT (Rapid Integrated Group Healthcare Team) Care program in Dallas. RIGHT Care was started in 2018 and works 7 am to 11 pm daily in lower income neighborhoods. Each team is comprised of a social worker, a police officer, and an EMT. Off-site clinicians answer over 200 calls per month diverting thousands of people dealing with mental health issues away from the jail. It’s changed the way DPD responds to the over 13,000 mental health crisis calls they receive. When the RIGHT Care team is in the field, they often offer assistance at the scene or transport the person needing help to a community outpatient behavioral-health setting for further evaluation and treatment.

And there’s the rub for Collin County. Dallas County can do that because they have mental health resources. We don’t. Due to our commissioners’ refusal to adequately fund mental health and substance abuse treatment programs, we have very few places to send people. Lifepath is overwhelmed and we have no public hospital. This problem is just going to get worse as our Republican state legislators’ refusal to expand Medicaid means Collin County will lose millions in government funding, mostly for mental health services.

McKinney City Council: May is Building Safety Month, a proclamation that’s bittersweet since Rick Herzberger, head of the city building department, recently died of COVID-19. Despite the death of one of their own, only two council members (Scott Elliott and Angela Richardson-Woods) and the city manager wore masks during the council meeting. Sadly, both Elliot and Richardson-Woods are leaving the council.

Dr. Gere Feltus, a family physician, will take Elliot’s seat. Rainey Rogers said he’s looking forward to Dr. Feltus joining the council and wished her well as she juggles being a doctor and a mom. How odd that Rogers didn’t mention the work-family balance skills of any of the male candidates. This isn’t truly surprising though, especially for him. It’s such a typical, condescending remark made when women step outside of our “place” in the home. Men get a pass since they’re not expected to do childcare. I cannot tell you how sick I am of the casual misogyny from many of our local elected officials!

Justin Beller will take Richardson-Woods’ seat. That position was initially headed to a run-off but Beller won when his opponent withdrew from the race. I look forward to the positive contributions both Dr. Feltus and Mr. Beller will bring to the council.

The municipal election in McKinney was quite ugly. Newly re-elected Mayor George Fuller mentioned that city council seats are nonpartisan for a reason although some tried desperately to make it about party. He commented that our community is made up of people of all political persuasions and no one should be demonized for their party. I disagree. If your party stands for treason, income inequality, racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and the lack of progress, then yes, you should be demonized. Get it together, Republicans! Speaking of….

The 87th Texas Legislative Session: I don’t even know what to say about this session except thank goodness it’s almost over and I’m glad it occurs only every other year. I can’t take this level of idiocy on a yearly basis! If we’re still able to vote after this session (despite Republicans’ best efforts), then we need to focus our energies on getting better state legislators. That means a massive voter registration effort and getting out the vote in 2022 like nobody’s business!

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