Collin County Politics: Vote in EVERY Election!

October 18, 2021

Covid Update: Collin County has 127,569 confirmed Covid cases. That’s 1,287 more cases than I reported last week and 1,081 of our Collin residents have died (an increase of 20 people who died since last week).

Texas: Unless you’ve been ignoring the news, you’ve heard that the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake got into trouble when their executive director of curriculum and instruction suggested they present an opposing view to the Holocaust. This received the justifiable outrage it deserved, leading to massive international and national condemnation. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez summed it up well: “There’s a reason white supremacy attacks history. Opposition to teaching bigotry’s history and where it leads- from the slave trade to the Holocaust – is about erasing society’s tools to recognize prejudice & prevent atrocity.”

While it’s tempting to blame the crazies in Southlake (and they are indeed quite worrying), the blame must be placed where it’s deserved: on the Republicans in the Texas Legislature. Specifically, this brouhaha stems from House Bill 3979, an absolute horror of a law. Although the law itself doesn’t mention Critical Race Theory (CRT), Governor Greg Abbott admitted that the teaching of CRT in K-12 classrooms is what the law is designed to prevent. Of course, that’s utter nonsense. CRT hasn’t ever been taught in elementary or secondary education; it’s only taught in law schools. Republican politicians know this but the Republican cult followers don’t understand it because they only know what they’ve been told. Their outrage is manipulated; they’re useful idiots.

So sure, Republican politicians can say the law is about CRT all they want but it isn’t. HB3979 is all about dictating the public school social studies curriculum in Texas. Teachers are rightfully confused and terrified. The law states that social studies teachers can’t “require” or include in their courses the concept that “an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.” The legislature took three pages to outline all the things that teachers may not teach, including all the systemic biases inherent in our systems of government. Gone are almost all accomplishments or critiques from women and people of color. Also missing will be critiques about our government from people like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington as well as information about the 15th Amendment to the Constitution (which guarantees Black voting) and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

I suspect their attempt to prevent students from learning about the long reach of history is exactly why they said teachers cannot be forced to teach current events. Can you imagine how a teacher would explain the John Lewis Voting Rights Act without mentioning the Voting Rights Act of 1965? Teachers also cannot be forced to teach controversial issues but, if they do, they must “strive to explore that topic from diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective.” That’s why the Southlake employee mentioned providing an opposing view to the Holocaust.

Although HB3979 only took effect in September, it’s already had negative effects on our schools. McKinney ISD students used to be able to take an elective course that allowed them to research and write legislative bills that could fix issues in their communities. They would then present and debate their bills in a mock legislature and election process organized by the YMCA’s Youth and Government program. This sounds like an amazing course, one that could lead to positive real-world outcomes. However, with HB3979 breathing down their necks, MISD officials decided to eliminate the course and only offer the Youth and Government program as an extracurricular activity. They also took the CNN-1 channel out of classrooms. We sure wouldn’t want our students to be informed! Thanks, Texas Republicans. As usual, you’re messing everything up.

Republicans aren’t thinking things through (I know: shocker!). By ensuring Texas public school students are undereducated, they’re putting them at risk for failing AP exams and not getting into schools outside of Texas, especially the Ivy League. Texas colleges and universities are stuck taking Texas students but the rest of the country isn’t. How long do you think it’s going to take for the better out-of-state schools to start eliminating Texas students from their competitive applicant pools? Once that’s known, employees of companies considering a move to Texas will refuse to go. Some who are already here may leave. You should mention that to your Republican friends and families who are convinced that CRT is the worst thing that could happen to our schools.

We must remember the attempt to overturn facts has been in play for a long time. In 2010, the Republicans dominating the Texas State Board of Education were well into their work of taking out “controversial” people like Thomas Jefferson and Delores Huerta from textbooks. This led to one of the few Democrats on the Board, Mary Helen Berlenga, to leave a meeting in protest stating, “The board is pretending this is white America, Hispanics don’t exist.” The Board also tried to minimize the impact of and use euphemisms for slavery. This is one reason why every Democrat should be voting ALL THE WAY DOWN THE BALLOT! Every elected position matters.

Propositions: Speaking of voting, we have an election coming up on November 2nd. Early voting starts on October 18th. The ballot will have 8 proposed changes to the Texas Constitution. Proposition elections are notoriously low turnout and 92% of proposed amendments – no matter how stupid – are usually voted in. Given who is creating these amendments, this should worry you. However, if Democrats all vote, we could have a major impact. If you go to the League of Women Voters website, they have brief videos giving the content of each proposition and the pros and cons of each. If you’re interested, I’m voting Yes only on 2, 7, and 8. The rest are No. Happy voting!

Commissioner’s Court: For the last several weeks, the commissioners have changed the structure of their weekly meetings. Instead of having public comments at the beginning of the meetings, they’ve put them at the end. As such, people who show up at 1:30 on Monday to speak can no longer just talk and go. Now they have to sit through the entire meeting, including executive sessions that sometimes last hours, before having a chance to engage with their representatives. Clearly, the commissioners haven’t enjoyed being told they’re terrible on a regular basis, so this is their way of preventing people from speaking. Like many Republicans, democracy is only important to them when they’re the ones in power.

Frisco School Board: The Unified Parents of FISD filed a federal lawsuit against Frisco ISD last month based on the right to life ensconced in the Due Process clause of the 14th Amendment. They’ve been joined by parents from 8 other school districts: Allen, McKinney, Prosper, Grapevine-Colleyville, Lago Vista, Hurst Euless Bedford, Lake Travis, and Tomball. The lawsuit just added the Texas Education Agency to their list of defendants due to all their shenanigans with Covid. The group anticipates getting a ruling this week on their request for a Temporary Restraining Order against mask bans and lax Covid mitigation efforts. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that the courts actually work for us this time.

At a Frisco ISD Inside Scoop meeting, board members discovered that brainwashed parents will turn absolutely everything into a complaint against the CRT boogeyman. This time, parents were complaining that Frisco’s emphasis on socio-emotional learning (helping kids find social connections and achieve personal growth through self-regulation & self-reliance) would turn into teaching them about CRT and social justice. Can you imagine the horror of their kids actually getting a well-rounded education? How awful it would be if their kids viewed diversity and equality as ways to improve society instead of things to be feared. Sheesh!

The big takeaway for Democrats is that the far-right crazies are determined to take over the school boards. Agitators without kids in the district and board members from the PAC Families 4 Frisco were present at this event and most meetings. They’re running two like-minded candidates for school board – Stephanie Elad and Mike Draper – who would be a disaster. We absolutely need to start showing up to these meetings and run our own candidates. If we don’t, we’ll find decisions being made for us instead of by us.

McKinney City Council: The last meeting was quite exciting as the request to rezone the property near Fairview Soccer Park for Light Industrial to allow for a cement recycling plant was on the agenda. The property owner’s presentation included an environmental consultant who spoke on the environmental impacts these plants can have and the multiple safeguards in place. The federal government sets guidelines and the TECQ can come in at any point to inspect the air, water, and soil quality. Frisco has the exact same type of recycling plant and hasn’t had any complaints or infractions during routine inspections.

Mayor George Fuller pointed out that the project would be a benefit to McKinney and said recycling construction materials is saving nature and protecting the environment. He mentioned that landfills fill up 3 times as fast without a recycling plant like this one and that the Frisco recycling plant saves Frisco ISD around $10 million related to their building facilities. He and every council member visited the Frisco recycling plant. While it was clear most, if not all, council members were in support of this project, they still had to deal with a bunch of angry people upset about poor air quality, traffic safety, and how this would affect the Heard Museum animals.

With this in mind, Dr. Gere Feltus asked the council to table the vote until the next meeting. Although Fuller tried to pressure her into voting right then by saying this project has been in the works for 1.5 years, Feltus stuck to her guns. She pointed out that, although some of the council has been working on this project that long, she and Justin Beller have not and it’s only fair they vote with all of their questions answered. She was clear that this is a delay not to appease the audience but to clarify things for herself. Beller agreed, saying he will vote yes on the project, but it’s important to take into consideration the public’s thoughts. The motion to table passed 7-0, which means they will vote on the plant on October 19th.

This kind of calm deliberation and insistence upon listening to their constituents is one reason why McKinney is so fortunate to have Feltus and Beller on the council. Instead of ignoring public opinion and ramming through a project, they try to have conversations with people to answer questions and explain their point of view. This is what makes good representatives.

Contrast them with Frederick Frazier who frequently insults people from the dais and acts like he’s ready to fight anyone at any time. He got booed and yelled at during this meeting and eventually had to apologize. Given his lack of good judgement and people skills, is it surprising he just filed to run for a statewide seat? While that’s disturbing to contemplate (and rumor has it that he’ll have an even worse primary challenger), the good news is that he had to resign his position on the council. It’s an At Large seat, so anyone in the city can run for it. Start planning your campaigns now, people! We have a real opportunity here.

Plano School Board: Plano police just finished a 7 months-long investigation into the bullying and abuse leveled against SeMarion Humphrey by white students at Haggard Middle School. Their conclusion? There will be no charges against the kids who shot the 13-year-old with a BB gun, abused him physically, and called him racial slurs (much of this while in school). Two teens will face Class C Misdemeanor Assault charges for forcing him to drink urine at a sleepover. Such charges receive no jail time and up to a $500 fine. Wow! So harsh. I’m sure the boys’ parents paying such a small fine will absolutely deter future abusers. This type of next to no consequences for awful behavior seems typical when the victims are women and people of color. Way to go, Plano Police Department! You continue to sow doubt about how invested you are in justice for all.

Plano ISD’s commitment to protect students is also in question. Summer Smith, Semarion’s mother, complained to the school for 2 years about the bullying and abuse Semarion had to endure. No one was interested. His football coach even shrugged it off with the tired “Boys will be boys” excuse. Enough of that already! Boys will be boys because we made them that way but they can change if we work at it.

Human beings learn best through role modeling and behavioral consequences. Plano ISD did neither. Bullying is a huge problem, primarily because abusers often receive no punishment for their behavior and frequently engage in further antisocial activities. Instead of letting them get away with sociopathic conduct, we need to be teaching them compassion, empathy, and responsibility for others. If Plano ISD doesn’t want to turn bullies over to the police, they should implement a restorative justice program. That way, everyone wins.

Comments 5

  1. The ONLY source for solid, factual reporting on Collin County politics. You can help expose the political corruption in your city by watching or attending council, P&Z, school board and other government meetings, taking notes and sending them to Misty Hook. Use the “Contact Me” button at the top of the page to let her know you’re interested.

  2. I hadn’t read your comments in quite awhile and I must say you’re still on point with your insight as to what’s going on in the politics of Collin County and the state. Great work! Thank you for writing this informative column.

  3. Your comments are, as always, spot on. Depressing, but spot on. The only way we solve this is with different representation. VOTE, for heaven’s sake, people.

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