Collin County Politics: Step Up and Be Heard

October 11, 2022

Picture: Sheena King (HD61) at an Education Forum. Her opponent is a figurative empty seat.

Covid Update: Collin County has 258,363 confirmed Covid cases. That’s 644 more cases than I reported last week and 1,560 of our Collin residents have died (3 additional deaths). Our transmission remains Low. Let’s hope the news remains good but cities up north are reporting increasing cases.

Allen School Board: President Amy Gnadt was sorely missed at their September regular meeting because that meant Vice President Sarah Mitchell had to take over. Mitchell appeared hesitant and unsure of her role. She needs to practice more, especially when a hot topic comes up and parents are angry. The hot topic for this meeting was the potential closing of George J. Anderson Elementary and another elementary school on the east side. AISD has told the community that there’s an overcrowding problem on the west side that will likely result in longer busing for some students. Oddly, their solution seems to be closing two schools on the east side and making those students travel further to attend school. This doesn’t make any sense at all as the crowding is on the west side.

A number of parents were there to be heard on this issue. One pointed out that Anderson is the “only school named after a black man” and talked about what an asset Mr. Anderson had been to AISD and how involved he had been in the school named after him. She asked for full proposals about repurposing the school and for all redistricting maps to be released so people can understand what’s happening. She also requested an answer as to what problem they’re trying to solve by closing these two east-side schools. All of her requests seemed very reasonable.

Another parent brought up safety concerns as most students walk to Anderson. If they’re zoned for another school, families will have to find transportation, thereby placing an unreasonable burden on them. That’s an excellent point. Elementary schools in particular are supposed to be within a nearby community. The lack of communication was a huge sticking point for most of the parents. Almost all complained about the lack of specific communication about this situation as well as others. Apparently, AISD hasn’t been too forthcoming on the situation with the teacher at Curtis Middle School who’s now under indictment. I’m shocked.

AISD hasn’t been great at communicating with the community for years now. They downplayed the number of Covid infections in the schools, hid the impact of the ransomware incident, and are decimating the Special Education department (SPED) on the down low. Given the high number of SPED positions open, AISD lowered both expectations and the experience necessary for these jobs. Candidates used to need experience in special education but now that pesky requirement has been lifted. It’s not like SPED issues are complicated or handling behavioral issues can be tricky or anything. I’m sure it’ll be fine.

Part of the problem is that they don’t have adequate staffing for paraprofessionals, most likely because AISD doesn’t pay well. Compared to surrounding districts, AISD pay for special education is low. Para professionals make $13 an hour for a very important and difficult job. You know something is wrong when McDonald’s pays better than the people who educate and care for our children. There’s also a dangerous shortage of SPED professionals who handle medical accommodations (IEPs) and learning challenges (504s). The high school has 3 coordinators for both IEPs and 504s. The freshman center also has 3 coordinators. That’s just not enough. Come on, AISD. You can and should do better! If they don’t, they’re probably going to be looking at yet another class action lawsuit.

A Democratic Halloween

McKinney City Council: The last two meetings and work sessions have been relatively uneventful, perhaps because they’re gearing up for the “bloodbath” Mayor George Fuller predicts the October 18th meeting will be due to redistricting. This has been an incredibly contentious issue over the last several months, largely due to the shenanigans from Sexist Racist Uncle Rainey Rogers (can his term just be over already?), Greedy Clueless Sheep Rick Franklin, Good Ole Boy Charlie Phillips, and Mayor George Fuller. The map that the Feckless Four wanted to pass dilutes the majority minority voting population in District 1 to a much greater extent AND alters Dr. Gere Feltus’ district (the only woman and only person of color on council) to a great degree. The only reason it didn’t pass last time is because the 3 outnumbered council members (Justin Beller, Dr. Feltus, and Patrick Cloutier) all protested because the map they were voting on was a map that was “brought back” from last February without any prior discussion.

They need our help. The easiest thing to do would be to email the entire city council and ask them to approve a map that 1) specifically protects the minority vote to the greatest extent possible in District 1 and 2) protects the integrity of District 3 without changing its makeup any more than is necessary. Ask them not to pass Maps A & C, which put an avoidable burden on both our minority voters in District 1 by diluting their voting power and our voters in District 3 by changing the borders to the point where fully one-third of that District is changed to a different council member. Add any other language you’d like in support of Dr. Feltus and her status as an incumbent, which after all, was one of their criteria when beginning the redistricting process.

In other news, I’m extremely sick and tired of all the breaks the big donors get while resident wishes get squashed. One reason why it’s so difficult for poor people to get ahead is that they don’t have a lot of representation among the decision-makers who are too busy giving perks to their besties. Just take a gander at who certain council members nominate to sit on boards and commissions. If you start comparing the nomination list to donor lists, you’ll find a whole lot of the same people on both lists. Or they just let everyone know how great their people are. During the break between prayer and pledge, Phillips interrupts the speaker to make a special point of greeting him. He says that Crosspoint (Southern Baptist) is a “valued congregation” in this community. Aren’t all congregations valued in this community? #AllCongregationsMatter. OK, that was a minor good ole boy coziness but it still felt gross and alienating.

Certain council members also let businesses run roughshod over residents. For example, Brandon and Bob Tomes requested rezoning for the property North Brook Drive and West 75 because they want to add a facility to their site that would allow them to repair large delivery/van trucks. They acknowledge that the Planning & Zoning Committee wouldn’t normally approve this but brought in Bob Roeder – who’s a big, regular donor to Fuller – to speak on their behalf. I don’t know why they needed Roeder since Bob Tomes – also a regular donor to Fuller – has built things in the past despite protests from residential neighbors. The motion passed. Was there ever any doubt?

During public comments, Fuller expressed his delight that some dude stayed so long at the meeting in order to speak. Guess why? Because Dude has a nice story about how the mayor helped him get an elevator fixed. That’s lovely. Sexist Racist Uncle suggests that the mayor probably did so from his hospital bed (Fuller recently had surgery for kidney cancer). I’m sure Rogers was very disappointed to know that Fuller is already married and Uncle is too old to be adopted. Sheesh!

Compare that delightful interaction to when Sexist Racist Uncle rudely interrupted a citizen who wanted to know (brace yourselves) where the homeless – many senior women – who live in their car can park safely. They’ve been harassed by police when they park at the Wal-Mart at 380 and 75. Fuller asks her to email him and he’ll send her a phone number, saying that we have resources available. The speaker informed him that she’s someone who provides resources and hasn’t had much luck. He repeated his request to email him and then Good Ole Boy Phillips was condescending. The next speaker was an actual homeless woman who pointed out that the Rapid Rehousing program pays rent at 100% but the apartments around her refuse to take them. Her experiences are a perfect example of the difference between a program and reality. While the council members were serious during both women’s speaking times, there wasn’t that animated joviality or even a strong desire to help that they show to their friends. Super gross.

During council members’ speeches, it was mentioned that Police Chief Conley is stepping down. They, of course, lauded his service. Conley’s been chief since 2015 and presided over the McKinney Pool Party incident, instances of racial profiling, and adamantly refused to consider more mental health professionals working with the department. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, dude!

McKinney School Board: The last meeting was fairly calm despite having 23 speakers at the beginning of the meeting. Most gave their usual nonsense, leaving me to wonder if these people have hobbies or friends. Probably not. The only speakers of note were Mayor George Fuller calling out the divisiveness and troublemaker Kyle Sims who name-dropped Grapevine/Colleyville ISD and threatened, “We are going to take over this board.” I was wondering when the GCISD garbage was going to trickle down to MISD and here it is. We need to keep watch on this because the Patriot Mobile PAC purchase of 4 school board seats is tearing that community apart.

The rest of the meeting went the way school board meetings used to go before the right-wing extremists decided to make everyone’s lives miserable. Larry Jagours spoke about his experience at the Texas Association of School Boards convention. He learned that a bill has been passed for increasing mental health resources in schools but no funding for mental health has been allocated to Texas schools. Are you all as shocked as I am to hear that? I totally believe Republicans care about mental health treatment more than just using it as a distraction from gun safety reforms.

The trustees probably thought longingly of the end of that meeting as they sat through a 4-hour whinefest the next day. A special meeting was called to address the Level III grievances by Paul Elliott, Samuel Hall, and John Montes. Elliot was upset about pornographic books (methinks he doth protesteth too much) and Hall had his feelings hurt because he was ejected from a meeting for calling people pedophiles and was given a criminal trespass charge. Apparently, he dislikes consequences for his bad behavior. Montes’ complaint was in closed session, so I don’t know what it was but I’m 100% sure it was something stupid.

After a mind-numbing back and forth from these people, the board (except of course for Chad Green) voted against them. They did vote to allow Hall the ability to attend his children’s school functions as long as he has permission from the campus administrators. That seems fair because his presence also impacts his children. I’m not sure what these losers believe they accomplished beyond wasting everyone’s time and flooding the zone. Sigh. I just wish they’d move. There are probably places in Montana they’d find more to their liking.

Plano School Board: There were a few interesting moments in what was, overall, a quiet meeting. I’m sure MISD is super jealous. During the discussion over the PISD legislative priorities for the Texas 88th Legislative Session, the board held a lengthy discussion about how recapture, originally designed to create equity between rich and poor schools, is now creating inequity for PISD. Other legislative priorities included a focus on greater security (good luck with that as long as nothing is done about guns), mental health funds, and local control. The trustees want the state to fully fund all mandates and use all recapture funds for traditional public education only. They also will request fewer STAAR tests and a reconsideration of the A-F rating system as it oversimplifies and encourages teaching to the test instead of educating students.

Huh. These all sound like things Republicans will either ignore or vote against in favor of funding private schools at the expense of public ones. If only the trustees could actually do something about fulfilling their requests like, let’s say, VOTING IN DEMOCRATS who would work on solutions.

The other interesting part of the meeting was Public Comments. There were 11 people there to speak to the expansion of 6th-grade electives to include fine arts and theater as options. Three of the speakers thought this was a fine idea. However, the other 8 were against it, highlighting concerns that range from crippling the music program, teacher cuts, and a lack of PISD’s inclusion of middle school staff to help shape a successful program. These are all excellent points. PISD doesn’t seem to have any strategic plans for how it will actually support the expansion, since there wasn’t any communication about staffing, facilities, scheduling, or how they’ll fund it.

Ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.

James Baldwin

Richardson City Council: The saga of the 2 brave police officers who spoke up about illegal quotas continues. If you’ll recall, in 2021, Officer Kayla Walker showed up at the city council meeting to blow the whistle on an illegal traffic ticket quota system that uses them as criteria for advancement and demotions. The city council pretended to care, paid for a sham independent investigation, then patted themselves on the back for a job not well done. Richardson city council members: you’re supposed to be the good ones, the role models for the rest of Collin County. BIG FAIL!

It was explicitly said in council that Officer Walker would not face retaliation for her courage in standing up against a Texas police department. Right. We all knew that wouldn’t be the case. This is a good ole boy state in which police can do pretty much anything they want. Violating the “blue wall of silence” is a no-no and there will be consequences as Officer Walker and her fellow cop in courage, David Conklin, soon found out. The two were basically shunned and harassed for small mistakes. Anyone showing them kindness or friendship was warned off. So they sued in federal court. Let’s hope they caught the most recent John Oliver episode in which he reminded everyone that cops lie.

It’s important to watch how this plays out because, let’s be honest, policing is a big problem for Texas. We’ve had numerous people, especially people of color, die in jail (remember Sandra Bland), racial profiling still occurs, and a disturbingly high number of law enforcement officers are members of right-wing extremist groups like the Oath Keepers. Things need to change but nothing will if good officers are punished for doing the right thing and speaking out against illegal practices. The “blue wall of silence” cannot be allowed to continue. Richardson PD and the city council had a chance to do the right thing. They blew it. Let’s hope the feds can do better.

Local Politics: Last week, the non-partisan education group, Raise Your Hand Texas, held an Education Forum with the candidates running for House District 61. To my great surprise, Republican Frederick Frazier showed up. This is a shock because most Republicans are too cowardly to debate Democrats and answer citizen questions. It’s also puzzling because Frazier’s been keeping a low profile ever since he was indicted and insists upon his innocence. Sure. Isn’t it weird how many Republicans in Texas are indicted? It’s almost like they’re the party of corruption.

The Forum was a blowout. Sheena King came prepared with good answers to tough questions about how she’ll help public education. In contrast, Felony Frazier told irrelevant personal stories and gave his usual word salad. I watched him while he was on the McKinney City Council, so I’m used to him not making sense. At one point, he said something totally incomprehensible about creating private spaces for LGBTQ students. He also rambled his answers except for one where he rapid-fire listed 5 points he wanted to include. I’m sure Felony looking at his phone directly before answering had nothing to do with how much smarter he sounded on that question.

The crowd was almost entirely there for Sheena. Most had on Sheena King shirts. While I’m grateful for the opportunity to have both candidates in a room together, the forum model of engagement was frustrating. Candidates answered prepared questions however they liked with no follow-up or fact-checking, so someone like Felony Frazier can lie or avoid answering. When the crowd tried to hold him accountable, the head of Raise Your Hand Texas got irate.

Despite this, there was one moment that was worth everything. The final question of the forum was for each candidate to say how they were different from each other. Sheena correctly pointed out that she’s not indicted and went on to list other differences. Felony Frazier’s face got redder than usual as he said, “So we’re going to go there.” He then said something snide about Sheena and, when called on it, responded that she “made a jab” at him first. Uh, sorry to tell you this, Felony, but that wasn’t a jab; it was the truth. Per usual, Felony can dish it out but can’t take it. Please save me from the fragile egos of Republican men.

The election is getting close! If you want to help, every candidate has a number of things you can do within the next month. But if you want to positively impact democracy long-term, please 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 3

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  1. Who knew that the school board meetings were going to become the “go-to” meetings for excitement? We all long for the days when the only exciting things that happened were the awards handed out to teachers and students.

    I’m not looking forward to the McKinney City Council meeting on the 18th. I sure hope the city council chooses a good map, one that fairly represents minority voters and the district of our only person (and woman!) of color on the council.

    Thank you for writing this informative piece!

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