Collin County Politics: True Leadership Wanted

November 16, 2021

Covid Update: Collin County has 130,817 confirmed Covid cases. That’s 557 more cases than I reported last week and 1,151 of our Collin residents have died (an increase of 11 people who died since last week).

The numbers continue to go down but what we don’t see is the people taking months to recover and those dealing with long Covid. Our healthcare workers are still stretched incredibly thin because the post-Covid folks are using a lot of resources. Many skilled nursing facilities are crowded with those struggling to breathe on their own, sit up, and talk. Even those out of the hospital continue to battle crippling fatigue. Almost all are middle-aged and unvaccinated. Why? Because older citizens recognize the dangers of Covid and have the highest vaccination rate of any age group.

State Wide: I’m sure our local school boards are absolutely thrilled by a federal judge’s ruling that the state’s ban on mask mandates in schools violates the rights of students with disabilities. Districts can again consider requiring face masks. This is great news but bittersweet since the ruling comes at a time when some of the districts that did require masks, like Richardson ISD, now plan on ending them due to kids getting vaccinated and decreasing Covid cases. However, it’s good that if we need future mask mandates (like if the holidays make cases spike), schools can implement them without fear of state inference since Attorney General Ken Paxton is prohibited from imposing any fines, withholding any educational funds, or bringing legal action to enforce Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates. Of course, this only affects the school boards that exhibited the courage and compassion necessary to fight for the health and safety of their students and employees. I’m sure the rest will continue ignoring the ravages of Covid throughout their campuses.

Abbott and Paxton vowed to appeal the decision because of course they did. I’d appreciate knowing how much of my taxpayer dollars have gone to pointless lawsuits brought by these two clowns. If anyone figures out a way for regular Texans to sue over stupid lawsuits brought by the state, I’ll be first in line to join that class action.

Commissioner’s Court: It was a quiet week as their meeting on November 8 lasted only 26 minutes. Over half of that time was taken up by a presentation on vaccines by Taylor Burton, our Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) Coordinator. Chris Hill didn’t seem to know her name which is just the kind of attention to detail you want in someone tasked with managing a public health disaster. I’d love to know if the PHEP budget has increased at all this year since most experts think Covid19 is only the first of many possible pandemics. Ms. Burton provided a lot of good information about what vaccines are and how anyone can sign up to get any kind of vaccine – from the first dose to a booster for anyone of qualifying age – Monday through Friday at Health Care Services. There are appointments easily available should you want to go there instead of to your physician or local pharmacy.

Hill, who plays a starring role in the As the Stomach Turns soap opera that is our county government, announced he’s running for a second term. He’s an absolutely terrible county judge. In addition to being an awful manager of county employees (which is probably why turnover is so high), he begrudgingly offers the services they’re supposed to provide, refuses to do anything beyond the minimum, is difficult for city officials and law enforcement to work with, and actively seeks to silence opposing viewpoints. Hill illegally blocks people from his Facebook page who disagree with him and tells others that he won’t listen to their opinions because they vote Democrat. As he put it in his announcement email, “I need your help again to defeat my opponents on the Liberal Left and Keep Collin Red!” We need to VOTE HIM OUT!

Although Hill is the worst offender, none of the commissioners even pretend to solicit Democratic input. Darrell Hale’s “unofficial committee” on redistricting included Brian Newman (who recently spoke at a meeting saying he fled the racism of New York and that God would keep Collin County red), Derek Baker (a horrendous human being we fortunately kept off of the McKinney City Council), Mark Reid, and Brian Fletcher (Susan Fletcher’s husband). You’d think they’d want the best talent they can get for offering solutions but short-sightedness seems to be a Republican trait.

The attitude of shutting out Democrats apparently extends to the Detention Center as well. According to an inside source, there was no reason why they couldn’t have gone ahead with the group tour of the facility that was scheduled for last Saturday. In fact, a group of young Republicans got a tour just a few weeks ago. Perhaps the Detention Center officials are worried we’ll notice they treat their employees like trash (making them work 16-18 hour shifts) or that prisoners aren’t receiving the best care. Regardless, arbitrarily allowing some members of the public (but not others) to tour the facility is unacceptable.

Allen School Board: At their workshop meeting, Allen parent Jason Fine had his Level 3 grievance hearing. His child was kept in quarantine in his classroom when there was a Covid outbreak in the class. Parents weren’t notified there was an outbreak or of the quarantine. AISD claimed this was cohorting (groups that stay together throughout the day so only those within a cohort have close contact with each other) per Collin County Health Services and the CDC and there was some mistake with regard to communication. When asked, CCHS said their recommendation would be for the students to stay at home and not be incubated with other students deemed to be too dangerous to be around the rest of the school. Since this recommendation makes sense, it’s clear that AISD is being careless and deceptive about its safety protocols.

Mr. Fine asked AISD to follow the status quo for current protocols at the school (e.g., desks in rows, lunch spacing, limited volunteers) through the end of the semester. He also asked for a written apology to his child as it’s good role modeling to see leaders admit their mistakes and apologize. It would be nice but that would require maturity and true leadership, traits clearly lacking on this board (and on many of the others across the county). The district’s counter was that they follow the law.

Unsurprisingly, the school board denied this claim. They also denied Mr. Fine a public hearing because specific staff members were named in his grievance. However, they did issue their denial in public and discussed what they’re doing about Covid protocols but didn’t allow Mr. Fine a chance to respond. Essentially, they ignored his complaint and then silenced him. Nifty.

AISD seems to believe that saying they “follow the law” actually means something. The only laws covering Covid safety in schools are the requirement to report tests to the TEA and the ban against mask mandates (although that’s now lifted). What AISD actually means is that they’re content to do the bare minimum, not only with student and employee safety but also with cybersecurity, financial transparency, and conflicts of interest.

This is an important point and one Allen voters would do well to remember during the school board election in May. As many Allen families are discovering, if your child isn’t a cookie-cutter student or if you’re someone who will actually stand up and disagree with the board, they’ll treat you poorly. Elected officials, especially non-partisan ones, are supposed to serve everyone with respect, fairness, and transparency. We’re a community, so no one should be treated as enemies. We need to make sure they remember this and elect people who will be servant leaders.

It truly baffles me that the extremists – the ones causing problems about CRT and banning books – are who the board wants to align themselves with. Is this who we want to be? Are these the people we wish to point to as role models? The crazies who protest on the bridge over the highway staged a protest at Ford Middle School on Saturday. They were angry that people were taking their kids to be vaccinated. Thus, parents who were elated and relieved to finally get their children protected from Covid had their enthusiasm dampened by a group of smug, self-righteous, no-nothings. The protest was small (maybe 10-15 people) but loud. If we continue to embolden fear and ignorance, it will grow.

Frisco City Council: At their last meeting, Gail Stevens spoke to the Council about Marjorie Taylor Greene’s visit to Frisco on Dec 11th. Greene will be the keynote speaker for the Frisco Conservatives’ annual winter gala at the Hyatt Regency Frisco/Dallas (be sure to let them know what you think of that!) and also will receive their Conservative of the Year award. She was invited by a PAC run by Brandon Burden, the controversial lead pastor at the Kingdom Life Church. Ms. Stevens pointed out that Greene is a Holocaust denier and that our leaders need to be Upstanders, not Bystanders. She invited council members to visit the Dallas Holocaust museum but no council member responded. This isn’t terribly surprising since several of them have strong ties to Burden’s church. We need to let them know that Greene’s invitation is deeply offensive and dangerous.

Plano School Board: The board announced that Chief Financial Officer Randy McDowell is retiring and Johnny Hill will be replacing him. This is notable only because Hill recently served as Allen ISD’s CFO. I wonder why he jumped ship. Maybe he just doesn’t like them. Like Hill did for AISD a few weeks ago, he gave a report on the Financial Integrity Ratings System of Texas (FIRST). Plano ISD scored a 94/100 (A) rating.

PISD also approved their District Improvement Plan. A notable revision will be to analyze participation in gifted and advanced courses by student group to determine any diversity, equity, or inclusion needs. This analysis has been needed for a while, so I’ll look forward to their conclusions. Fine Arts also will be developing programs to be more inclusive of special needs students and to market pathways towards careers in the arts. The district plans to research other options for healthcare plans to offer staff that will hopefully be more affordable and provide better coverage than TRS-ActiveCare.

Liberal Women’s Action Network (LWAN): If you enjoy reading these columns, please join LWAN (men welcome). I can’t write these columns without a lot of help! If we want true change, we must know what’s going on. That means monitoring every city council and school board in Collin County. This is something anyone can do and it’s interesting work. Please contact me at and let me know if you’re interested.

Comments 1

  1. I had the (dis)pleasure today of driving under the crazies on the overpass. I resisted the urge to shout “get a job” but just barely. Why do they feel the need to make others’ lives miserable by slowing down traffic … or yelling at city council and school board members … or protesting others getting their vaccines? I just don’t get it.

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