Collin County Politics: Safeguarding Democracy

March 8, 2022

Covid Update: Collin County has 204,432 confirmed Covid cases. That’s 1,234 more cases than I reported last week and 1,453 of our Collin residents have died (an increase of 17 people). The CDC has a program that tells you the overall rate of Covid transmission by county. Collin, Dallas, Denton, and others around us are Low. However, Tarrant County is Medium and some of the more rural areas (like Van Zandt County) are High. Be careful if heading in those areas!

Commissioner’s Court: Chris Hill was absent, so Susan Fletcher ran the 19-minute meeting. Still no mention of the inmate found dead in the jail. I found a blog that shared information from a report filed by the Collin County Sheriff’s Office. According to the blog, the 32-year-old Plano man killed himself while in his cell. They pointed out that the report provides no information about how often his cell was checked or whether he was on a cell check schedule appropriate for a person with mental health and/or self-harm issues. I don’t know how accurate this blog is but it does seem odd the mainstream news outlets don’t appear to be following this story.

The only interesting item from the meeting was two men concerned about a proposed change to deer hunting season. In 2012, four counties – Collin, Dallas, Rockwall, and Grayson – all agreed to have a deer hunting season (November and December) in which hunters can only use archery or crossbow. However, there’s now a petition from a landowner in Grayson County to include guns in the hunting methods. Sheesh! What is it with Texans and guns?

During public comments, Dale Moses, a retired game warden from Grayson County, and Steve Seals, a retired firefighter, were very much against this proposal citing safety issues, including (justified) worries about the use of high-powered rifles on small land parcels. Apparently, officers and game wardens already respond to a high amount of calls for high-powered rifles for shooting feral hogs that have missed and hit private property. Both men said state representatives are more likely to take the input of county officials over county residents and implored the commissioners to issue a resolution protesting the implementation of deer hunting with guns. I’ll be surprised if the commissioners do this since Republicans’ overall belief is that everyone should have guns and do whatever they want with them.

McKinney City Council: Several weeks ago, the council members held an over 3-hour long meeting during which they discussed goals and priorities for the council. This was a very interesting meeting because it really highlighted all the services the city provides and how they get them done. Some major challenges for McKinney include finding the funding for needed road maintenance, creating affordable housing (which is a problem for employers as they don’t have employees who can afford housing), and determining how best to recruit and retain talent. The “great resignation” is affecting city staff and we need to figure out how to balance workloads and make it desirable to work here. Another challenge is dealing with a Texas legislature that has an “anti-city” bias. I imagine this is true due to the solid Republican base being rural and because the legislature is backward thinking. That’s why we have to elect more Democrats!

Some other items of note. New councilmember Patrick Cloutier suggested that McKinney’s slogan “Unique by Nature” has run its course and Dr. Geré Feltus agreed. The slogan has been used as an attack every time there is new development and, if the meaning of “Nature” is environmental, it’s no longer even true. Cloutier also brought up that the East Side doesn’t have a grocery store. Rainey Rogers said Wal-Mart tried to come in and the neighborhoods shut that down (good for them!), so he thinks the city has done its job on that issue. Rogers is seldom if ever a champion for the underserved, so his dismissal of this problem was no surprise. He probably doesn’t realize that Wal-Mart is rarely a “good neighbor,” an aspirational goal the council was discussing.

Justin Beller continued to be awesome by bringing up sustainability and suggesting we need sustainable operational excellence regarding projects and plans. He also recommended developing a global housing strategy. He pointed out that we shouldn’t just require apartment developments to fund affordable housing, we should require any housing development to fund affordable workforce housing. This is an important point because it would include neighborhoods in the plan. Houses need to be affordable too. He finished with workforce development: McKinney is one of the largest employers in the city, and we could do a better job in designing and providing opportunities for job training for advancement. McKinney needs to be a place where people can grow up, raise a family, and retire here. This is sustainable growth, and it is our responsibility to help them to do that. Job training would certainly help improve that potential.

Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Prosper School Board: The book banners moved their Crazy Circus down the road to Prosper last week. They clearly didn’t appreciate the pushback at the McKinney School Board meeting and were determined to make a show of force. The Prosper Citizen Group PAC has been working with state representative Jared Patterson since February to remove Gender Queer from school library shelves. Superintendent Holly Ferguson and other district officials said they’d already removed Gender Queer but the Crazy Towners didn’t believe them and upped the ante to include 82 other books they wanted to be removed. Thus, the Prosper School Board has been under siege for weeks now and the Liberal Women of Collin County and pro-education allies (wearing gold) stepped up to help.

Fortunately, many of the pro-education allies arrived early enough to get seats and sign up to speak. The majority of the book banners either didn’t show or found themselves unable to get into the meeting room until it was too late to sign up. Thus, most of the speakers were in support of public education. Jim Herblin did manage to speak and did his usual schtick of vaguely threatening the Trustees. Thank goodness, we’re rid of that guy (for the moment) as he lost in the primary.

A few of the speakers opposing the banning of books said we can all agree to remove books that have explicit sexual content. Actually no, we don’t all agree to this. Who gets to decide what “explicit” even means? Are all descriptions of sexual interactions considered “softcore porn” as the book banners claim or are some appropriate? Close to 60% of high school students will have sex before graduation, so kids are having sex whether parents want them to or not. If we want our children to have a healthy sexuality, we need them to learn about sex and the Texas abstinence curriculum isn’t getting the job done. And (clearly) many of them learn nothing about it at home. Books are one good solution and we must fight to keep this resource available in schools. And it isn’t as if the books on ISD shelves just floated in from the ether. Every single one of them went through a vetting process by subject matter experts (like librarians and teachers) and was deemed appropriate. I trust them.

If the speakers were trying to find some common ground with the book banners, my best advice is: don’t. As I keep saying, this isn’t about book banning. This is about decimating public education so they can privatize it. Unless you think we all should pay for an inaccurate and dumbed-down version of what Republicans think we should know, then there’s no common ground there. We also need to keep in mind that there are areas in the world in which “uncomfortable” topics don’t get taught. Russia, the Republican party’s favorite country until recently, is one of these areas.

The common ground theory also won’t work because Republicans constantly move the goalposts. Just when you think you’ve found areas they agree with, they’ll throw in something else that’s even crazier, like wanting ISDs to pledge they won’t partner with book vendors that supply “pornographic materials” to campuses. Republicans are untrustworthy and aren’t acting in good faith. Don’t try accommodating them; you’ll just end up regretting it.

One positive piece of news in the fight over public education is that the College Board finally decided to step up. In a statement of principles just issued, the College Board said any high schools that ban “required topics” in their Advanced Placement classes could lose their AP designation. They also landed firmly on the right side of history by pushing out Todd Huston, a senior vice president, who also serves as the Indiana House Speaker. Huston (who’s a real piece of work) heavily promoted and voted in favor of an Indiana bill that prohibits teachers from promoting certain “divisive concepts” involving sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin, or political affiliation. Yes, sadly, Texas isn’t the only state that’s fighting for its teachers and public education institutions.

Local Politics: Collin County Republicans obviously are in a race to the bottom and are eating their own along the way. We need to let them. Quit voting in Republican primaries and start volunteering and voting for Democrats, the only sane people around. Otherwise, we’re going to be in an even greater world of hurt than we already are. Republicans are no longer reasonable, decent, or even interested in fixing problems. We need all of them OUT!

First to go is filthy rich Van Taylor, the guy who (from many accounts) essentially bought his first elected seat by flooding HD66 with mailers during a run-off with former Plano city council member Mabrie Jackson in 2009. Money has never been an object for Taylor but apparently, it doesn’t buy good morals or a happy marriage. In 2020, he began an affair with Tania Joya, the woman known as the ISIS bride. Joya told Suzanne Harp about their affair and Harp told a bunch of right-wing news outlets that published the information. Some disturbing texts from Taylor were included in the articles and he quickly stepped away from the race.

Of note here is that Taylor was targeted by the Dark Side for the only courageous votes he ever cast: to verify the 2020 election results and to approve of the January 6th committee. Yes, he did so in a calculated manner since CD4 was (prior to gerrymandering) trending blue but still. Trumpian Republicans were out to get Taylor but since they weren’t going to be able to oust him at the ballot box, they resorted to other means. Don’t let any Republicans tell you they care about him having an affair. They clearly don’t (hello…Trump!). I usually wouldn’t care either because two consenting adults can do what they want and anyone’s marriage isn’t my business. However, I found the texts disturbing due to the dismissive nature towards a woman who’s suffered a great deal in her life. I also didn’t appreciate the gross mental images.

Next up in the news is Collin County Commissioner Darrell Hale. He inexplicably texted Cris Treviño, who came in second in the race for Precinct 1 Constable, suggesting he concede the race and consider working for his runoff opponent. Treviño promptly accused Hale of asking him to commit bribery. Hale said he was just trying to help, adding that Treviño was “qualified to be on the ballot but not qualified for the job.” For his part, Treviño says he may file an ethics complaint. I’m not sure why any of this happened but we need to be aware of two things. First, we have no Democrat on the ballot for that race and that needs to change. Second, Republicans will do anything to win.

How much clearer can the Republicans make it that none of them are fit for governance? We must elect Democrats and that process starts with knowing what’s going on at the local level. So, please sign up to join the team covering your city council or school board. Everyone is welcome. All you need to do is contact me at and let me know you’re interested. Let’s do this!

Comments 9

  1. … “qualified to be on the ballot but not qualified for the job.” Much like Hale himself.

  2. Excellent summary . You are indeed the one to put all this so clearly and thoroughly. Thanks so much for your dedication and amazing work 💙

  3. Thank you as always for the hard work and the reporting. And THANK YOU for reminding everyone they need to vote for DEMOCRATS. While not all Republicans are bad, the Republican Party platform is INDEED just bad. That very platform makes it clear than any Democrat is an enemy unworthy of being worked with. We have to vote in Democrats who will represent EVERYONE or we will soon find ourselves being shipped out to other states or we may be leaving on our own as Texas Republicans destroy public education, public health, the environment, the right to vote, and civil rights.

  4. I have to weigh in on the Walmart question too. Do the lower income residents of east mckinney really not want an affordable grocery store? Do they prefer Aldi or Fiesta or what what?

    1. Post

      I’m sure they do want an affordable grocery store, just not Walmart. I don’t know anything more about their efforts to keep Walmart out than what was said at the council meeting. Perhaps they were upset because the city asked the Walmart next to Bonnie Wenk Park if they’d build a greenbelt between their building and the park and they refused.

  5. Your segment on Prosper is excellent; packed with insights and tools. The College Board/AP mention illuminates a major blind spot in the Banner’s dogma.
    In the local politics segment you mention the Red race to the bottom which is understandable but soft and undefined. I do not use the popular but ineffective synonyms of authoritarianism, despotic, autocratic, kleptocratic and totalitarian. All of these miss the mark but live under one roof: fascism. That is the bottom. Calling out Red behavior accurately and bluntly is essential in the current environment.
    Enough of that from me.
    Your work is THE essential, desperately needed, crucial political truth-telling in Collin County. I hope it spreads beyond your blog and The Rally.
    Thank you.

  6. I appreciate your insightful research and commentary. My personal and professional experience with Walmart leads me to dispute your characterization of them as a bad neighbor. As a Chamber of Commerce leader for 20 years in two DFW area cities including McKinney I value WalMart and their community involvement. I could expound at length about the community initiatives they funded or staffed. From seed money to start the Leadership McKinney program , to annual supplier golf tournament benefitting a different local charity each year, to cooking free hotdogs for the community at the annual crosstown showdown football games, Walmart has always been there. I do not know of a local charity or nonprofit that has ever received funds or support from Target, Kohls or any other big box chain. Please refrain from negative comments about one of the very few big retail community investors.
    But keep up the good work and keeping us informed.

    1. Post

      While I can appreciate that Walmart has some positive things they do, there are good reasons why the McKinney east side residents didn’t want them there. Walmart has a long and well-established history of running smaller stores, especially “mom and pop” ones, out of business. That’s kind of the epitome of a bad neighbor. They also have major problems with labor and environmental issues. But thank you for your response and for the kind words.

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