Collin County Politics: Transparency is Key

May 18, 2021

Commissioner’s Court: The meeting last week was abruptly canceled with no explanation given on the official website. When asked about this (via Facebook), Darrell Hale explained that it was because there weren’t enough commissioners present to have a quorum. So their absences are now resulting in canceled meetings. Good to know. Another problem is their lack of transparency. Why not just give the reason for canceling the meeting on the website?

Similarly, why do the commissioners not have a “working” meeting like most other governmental entities? Hale explained that they do all their discussions in the weekly meeting and otherwise individually consult with County Manager Bill Bilyeu and other staff. If true, this seems like a massive waste of time (and taxpayer dollars, something commissioners care about above all else) as staff may have to answer the same questions from five commissioners. Why can’t citizens (aka the people who pay their salaries) hear what questions they have, what topics they’re considering, and how they arrive at their decisions? They’re supposed to represent us. We should see how they actually do that.

We also need to let them know our thoughts and concerns. Since most people cannot attend a 1:30 pm meeting on a Monday, we should at least be allowed to speak our minds without fear of censorship. Chris Hill and Hale are notorious for posting on social media sites like NextDoor and then immediately shutting down comments or posting on their campaign pages and deleting comments they don’t like. They don’t have official Facebook pages and often send out informational emails via their campaign lists. As such, people wanting to be informed must go through their campaign pages. This is not acceptable.

Plano City Council: Public comments significantly enlivened what was an otherwise dull meeting. The first meeting for newly elected mayor John Muns was a doozy. In addition to several people complaining about the noise from Legacy Hall (their polite demeanor a stark contrast to most of the others), there were a number of people who complained about the incident where an out-of-control motorist assaulted a protester as the marchers crossed at 121 and Preston. The complainers were upset that the Plano Police Department wasn’t aggressive enough with the “Black Lives Matter” and “Antifa” protesters and they don’t want protests like that happening in their city. Many speakers weren’t even from Plano but were members of a group called Patriots At Large. The two brave citizens who spoke in defense of the protesters (pointing out that the people so upset by the protests don’t seem to care much about the murder of a man by law enforcement) were met with such verbal abuse that Muns had to address it.

Richardson City Council: Some fresh faces are joining the city council. Jennifer Justice (great name!) and Joe Corcoran are both in their 30s, making them 20 to 40 years younger than the other Council members. Let’s hope that means they have some new ideas! Their ages aren’t the only exciting things about them though. Justice joins Janet DePuy as the second woman on Council. The last time the Council included two women was in the mid-1990s. Corcoran is the first candidate to beat an incumbent since 2009.

What’s even more exciting is that Corcoran won his race without the endorsement of Richardson Coalition or the Dallas Morning News. The Richardson City Council has ties to the Chamber of Commerce and also to Richardson Coalition, a group with substantial connections to the Richardson business community. The normal procedure for being elected to city council is to complete one of the Leadership Richardson programs (costing $1,350 for Chamber members or $1,500 for non-Chamber members) then serve in a variety of ways (e.g., PTAs, HOAs, Richardson Boards and Commissions) before running for a council seat. It’s typical for candidates to run unopposed.

City Council members are not used to having to campaign for office since an endorsement from Richardson Coalition, usually echoed by the Dallas Morning News, essentially rubber stamps their qualifications for office. Justice ran unopposed but Corcoran walked every neighborhood in Richardson with his team of volunteers.  He deliberately ran a non-partisan campaign, but it was planned well in advance and had the backing of some seasoned liberals. He challenged the status quo and won. We need to learn from his success.

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