Collin County Politics: We Must Speak Out

September 27, 2022

Picture: Members of the Collin chapter of the Texas Faculty Association, Drs. Audra Heaslip, Suzanne Jones, and Lorena Rodriguez, blockwalking for Josh Murray, Irvin Barrett, Jeff Williams, Alex Cornwallis, and Jesse Ringness

Covid Update: Collin County has 257,025 confirmed Covid cases. That’s 2,042 more cases than I reported two weeks ago and 1,552 of our Collin residents have died (4 additional deaths). Our transmission remains Low. Despite what President Biden said, Covid isn’t over, especially for those struggling with long Covid. We’re expected to have another surge this fall, so I’m going to keep watch a bit longer.

ICYMI (the Ken Paxton edition): I don’t ever remember an Attorney General who’s overstepped his bounds as much as Felonious Punk Ken Paxton has. It isn’t enough that he interferes in the healthcare of women, creates new investigations for the FBI, wastes taxpayer money by firing ethical staffers, constantly sues the Biden administration for no good reason (seriously, google how often he’s done this), and pushes harmful investigations into the families of transgender children. Nope, now he has to interfere in city municipal bond bids too (which costs us money).

The city of Anna declined to award a bond deal to Citigroup Inc. even though the bank submitted the most competitive bid. Although it’s unusual for a municipality to reject a bank’s winning bid on a municipal-bond deal, they did so after discussions with Felonious Punk and their legal counsel and financial adviser. The reason for this was because of two laws that took effect in September 2021 that limit Texas governments from working with companies that care more about humanity and our planet than they do greed. These laws want to make it harder for companies that have common sense gun laws and care about environmental sustainability (by refusing to work with the fossil fuels industry) to do business with the state. In other words, they’re trying to legislate morality, something they always accuse Democrats of doing.

After the mass shooting at Parkland High School in Florida, Citigroup announced policies prohibiting retailers that are customers of the bank from offering bump stocks or selling guns to people who haven’t passed a background check or are younger than 21. You know, common sense policies designed to keep people safe. And the state of Texas is trying to punish them for it. But it isn’t just companies that are bearing the brunt of these laws. Texas municipal borrowers (our cities) have been paying as much as $532 million of extra debt costs because the two new laws caused some of the nation’s biggest banks to pause muni underwriting here. Thanks, Republicans! Not only do you not care about our safety but you don’t care about our wallets either!

The mess Felonious Punk has made of the Texas AG’s office was all over the news recently. A district judge recently ordered our state’s child welfare agency to halt all investigations into the families of transgender children if they are members of the LGBT advocacy nonprofit PFLAG. This is good news and is a major win for families who sued to stop child abuse investigations into the medical care they’re seeking for their transgender children. Always one to throw taxpayer money away on a bad cause, Punk’s office has notified the plaintiffs it will appeal the decision.

In an example of why elections for judges are important, a Texas district judge dismissed a state bar push to sanction Punk’s top aide. A disciplinary commission of the State Bar of Texas sued First Assistant Brent Webster, alleging he acted unethically by asking the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate election results in four key swing states. Yep, he absolutely did and so did Felonious Punk who is also facing legal troubles for it. The state bar’s Commission for Lawyer Discipline asked a court to sanction Punk for his legal filing asking the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate President Joe Biden’s wins in four states.

Unfortunately, this partisan judge’s decision will make it that much harder to do. The judge’s ruling, called a “legal charade,” basically boiled down to saying the AG’s office is above the law. There are a lot of those claims floating around these days and they must stop. A separate disciplinary suit against Punk is still active in Kaufman County. Punk’s legal team argued that disciplining him would be an unconstitutional attempt to control the office’s work. The commission disagreed, saying all lawyers should be subject to the same rules of professional conduct, no matter their position. Amen. We need to make laws that say everyone – regardless of money or position – must follow the same laws the rest of us do. We’re either a nation of laws or we aren’t.

Another stone to tie around Punk’s neck (and every single Republican legislator in Texas) is the horrific and unconscionable loss of life in pregnant women as a result of their abortion law. Apparently, the results of this are so bad that, for the first time ever, the Texas Department of State Health Services is delaying the state’s maternal mortality report until after the midterms. Although the DSHS insists the decision isn’t political – apparently they think we’re stupid – it’s clear the numbers are going to be bad. And this is in a state that led in maternal mortality rates, especially for black women, even before they started messing with our reproductive healthcare. Punk absolutely has contributed to this devastating problem when he sued the Biden administration for telling physicians they should provide abortions when the mother’s life is in danger. Yep, you read that right. Punk actually prefers women die (and, in many cases, the fetus dying with them) over them having a life-saving abortion. Kind of weird for a so-called “pro-lifer,” huh? It almost makes this seems like he prefers controlling our bodies over saving women’s lives.

The icing on the cake happened this week when the Felonious Punk fled his home in a truck driven by state senator Angela Paxton (please vote for Jonathan Cocks so we can get rid of her too!) to avoid being served a subpoena. A process server was attempting to serve Punk with a subpoena for a federal court hearing Tuesday in a lawsuit from nonprofits that want to help Texans pay for abortions out of state. It’s kind of ironic that Punk, the man who wants to prevent women from fleeing the state to access abortion, sees no problem with fleeing his home to avoid the repercussions of his behavior. You can’t make this stuff up!

Felonious Punk is only capable of doing his misdeeds as AG because the Collin County Commissioners have made it very difficult for people to try him on securities fraud. He was indicted for this crime 7 years ago but still hasn’t faced trial. The rest of the nation thinks (rightfully so) that our “top cop” is a joke. In addition to this indictment (for which anyone else would’ve already been years into serving their sentence), Punk also faces a whistleblower lawsuit from former top deputies who accused him of abuse of office, and an FBI investigation stemming from those allegations. He’s also being sued by the men who accused him of securities and will sit for a deposition after the November elections. If we want someone who is ethical and will run the AG’s office the way it’s supposed to be, everyone must vote for Rochelle Garza!

Blockwalking for Alex Cornwallis, Josh Murray, and Jesse Ringness.

Education: By distracting us with anti-CRT, anti-SEL, and book banning nonsense, right-wing extremists are keeping us from addressing more important issues. This includes teacher recruitment and retention and sex education. As many of us feared, thousands of teachers across the state have retired and are quitting due to stress from the pandemic, political pressure and lack of support (thanks, Republicans!), and an overly big workload. Many are also concerned about an overemphasis on standardized tests, the state’s approach to the pandemic, diversity and inclusion, and particularly school safety. Legislators haven’t adequately addressed any of these issues.

Also in the mix is Texas’ unique teacher preparation process, which some experts refer to as the “wild west.” This is a huge problem because the majority of new teachers are coming from alternative certification programs that aren’t always rigorous. As is typical in a state run by those viewing regulation and oversight with suspicion (instead of viewing them as the necessary protections they are), many of the for-profit companies operate with minimal state requirements and feeble oversight. Yet they are the ones providing the largest number of teacher candidates. Unfortunately, teachers getting their certification from for-profit preparation programs don’t stay in the classroom at the same rate as university-prepared candidates. Shocker. As it turns out, adequate preparation and standards are important! Who knew?

Given our cruel abortion laws, it’s even more important that girls and women who don’t want to be pregnant shouldn’t become so. That’s why sex education is vital yet it’s not something Texas does a good job of teaching. But we should. Although teen pregnancies have declined across the country, Texas continues to have one of the highest teen birth rates and (along with Alabama) the highest rate of repeat teen pregnancies. Yay! We’re Number One! We’re Number One! Perhaps that’s what the people in charge of school curriculum truly believe. Otherwise, they’d actually try to solve the problems. But no. Texas school districts aren’t required to teach sex education (25% of them don’t), while those that do are required by state law to emphasize abstinence (58% teach “abstinence-only”). Only 17% offered curriculums, known as the “abstinence-plus” model. That sounds good in theory but, if they’re anything like the program McKinney ISD uses, they’re not grounded in empirical data and have a distinct religious focus. Not good.

Our kids need us to teach them true sexual health, one that covers a lot more than just an organ recital (so to speak). Research is crystal clear that teaching about contraception increases contraceptive use and even delays sexual activity among young people. Abstinence-focused programs aren’t particularly effective at curbing sexual activity. Wow! Who could’ve ever guessed? That’s why the change this year requiring information about contraceptives and more about STIs to be taught in middle school is a good start. But young people also need to be taught about LGBTQ relationships, the intricacies of consent, and sexual pleasure. As it stands now, none of those are covered although they do teach “refusal skills” (guess who that’s aimed at). But whether students are taught anything depends on whether their parents “opt-in” for these lessons. As we all know, this means that those kids who need this education the most are some of the least likely to receive it.

When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak, remembering we were never meant to survive.

Audre Lorde

Commissioners Court: Apparently, the commissioners get paid a whole lot of our money to waste time. On the consent agenda this week was a resolution about the border. I’ll spare you the legalese nonsense and relay the gist: there’s an invasion at our border and they want the invasion repelled and our border secured. I hope everyone realizes what a waste of staff time and effort that was. The resolution means absolutely nothing except a chance for 5 right-wing extremists to sound off about the border. One woman even said she prays (!!) the resolution passes unanimously. Either she was being dramatic or she truly knows nothing about such resolutions. Either is possible.

The Public Comments section was super fun though. LWAN warriors for democracy Judy Dishong, Joshua Murray (running to unseat Hill), and Elizabeth Michel all spoke. Judy spoke about the border. She name dropped Barack Obama and Kamala Harris (which I’m sure they hated), then said she wants the border to be depoliticized so we can find solutions. I love how she calls them out so sweetly they probably don’t even know she’s doing it.

Josh was on fire. He pointed out that if they truly want to do something fentanyl, funding the Sheriff’s inter-county interdiction squad would have a greater impact than a political resolution that does nothing. He also took Hill to task for cutting off his microphone last week with a button he has by his chair because it infringes upon his First Amendment rights and is disrespectful. Josh also went scorched earth by saying that he and others like him have sacrificed via their military service so Hill can sit in that seat, so he needs to listen to people who may have more wisdom and experience. That bar is low.

Liz called out Hill’s disrespectful “thank you for your nonsense” that he leveled at Josh last week. She pointed out that Josh has a better attendance record at the court than Hill does and deserves better. She finished off her roast by saying Hill’s behavior is unchristian (hear, hear!), unkind, and unworthy of the office he holds. Yes to all of that! Watching Hill choke out his usual “thank you for your comments” was truly comedy gold. We need more of that!

The commissioners court could do a lot more than it does. In a crushing blow for the more than 500 families dependent upon it, a walk-in freezer and refrigerator at the All Community Outreach Allen stopped working. The CEO said that while they do their best to maintain their equipment, the system is 12 years old and the cost for the repairs plus loss is estimated at more than $20,000. She reached out to the community for help and people came through, at least in the short term. You know who could help with this since they’re sitting on over $72 million of unattributed money? If you guessed the commissioners, give yourself a prize. Why should organizations that provide a service to residents across Collin County (because you know it’s not just Allen residents who use their services) rely on individual donations to continue operating? The commissioner’s court exists to provide services. We need to make them do it!

Hill is accepting applications for the 2022/23 Collin County Youth Leadership Council. Although I don’t think he’ll accept any youth affiliated with liberals, we need as many progressive young people as possible to apply. One could slip through! Democrats must start getting involved in local leadership positions, so why not have your kids start young? Not only that but, since students selected for the program get a tour of the county jail as part of their opportunities, that may be the only chance we’ll ever get to know at least a little of what’s going on in there. Some of us have tried to get a tour in the past but, apparently, that’s only for Republicans. Interested students submit the completed application, which includes a short essay and a letter of recommendation, by Friday, September 30. The application is available online at

Frisco School Board: I’m always dismayed when I read how the Dallas Morning News covers local events, like the recent 4-hour school board meeting for FISD. The articles tend to be brief and devoid of context or relational dynamics. While this article was better than most, there was a lot left out. The article accurately mentioned that much of the meeting was taken up by a discussion on whether the board should have a policy on which bathrooms transgender students should use. FISD currently adheres to Title IX (a federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school that accepts federal funding) by meeting with parents if a student requests to use a restroom for a gender not assigned at birth and usually allowing the student to use a nurse’s restroom. This policy has worked well, especially since fewer than 50 students have even made a request. Moreover, of the 361 bathroom related disciplinary incidents across its 73 campuses, 0 related to transgender students. Going by the data, it’s clear this hasn’t been an issue until the right-wing extremists decided to make it into one.

The article mentioned there was tension between the trustees (that was an understatement) and captured Dynette Davis’ speech on how disappointed she is that, in 2022, we’re having the same conversation as we did 68 years ago when black students couldn’t use the same bathroom, sit in the same classroom, or even attend the same school as the white students. Yet here we are, still focused on discrimination. I 100% agree with this. I don’t think for a second that the cis gender students have been feeling “uncomfortable” with their transgender peers. This is about their parents manufacturing outrage. When they were called out, many in the crowd didn’t like hearing it. One woman later said during public comments that she has a biracial child and this isn’t the same thing as racial discrimination. Uh huh. Take a seat, ma’am.

While I realize that I come from an extremely partisan viewpoint (that comes across, right?), it seems important to mention – as the DMN article did not – how tense and hostile the entire meeting was. Marvin Lowe and Stephanie Elad (the 2 right-wing extremists recently elected to the board) wasted a whole lot of time, all so they could play to their base. Per Steve Bannon’s directive, they flooded that zone with shit but good. While the crowd dutifully applauded Elad’s relentless questions like the sheep they are, they practically lost their minds over Lowe’s bullying. The atmosphere felt very Trump rally-like.

Lowe repeatedly asked the same question of Chief Student Services Officer Erin Miller. She was awesome, clearly and calmly articulating the district’s position while demonstrating compassion for transgender students. Superintendent Waldrip tried to stop Lowe’s harassment of his employee but Lowe told him he was 25% of his boss and could fire him. The crowd ate it up. When Lowe tried to speak over fellow trustee John Classe, a man in the crowd yelled, “Just talk over him, Marvin!” Like Trump (probably his hero), Lowe interrupted and tried to dominate the floor. Board president Rene Archambault tried but failed to keep him in line. She needs to get better at that fast if she wants to get anything done.

I don’t have high hopes for it though because Archambault gave 2 separate speeches pleading for the community and the board to be unified. If she truly believes that, she’s sadly naive. Elad and Lowe were elected specifically to be divisive and will cause as much trouble as they can. Lowe in particular was extremely combative. When questioning Miller about how many parents contacted the administration over this issue, he only wanted to know how many opposed their current procedure. That the other side doesn’t matter was implied. This was so clear that when he said that he cares about transgender students, the crowd laughed. He tried to backtrack after that, saying his faith tells him all lives are precious. Uh huh. No one’s buying that nonsense and your base is counting on that not being true.

Later in the meeting, Lowe accused Archambault of manipulating an anonymous donation for the stupid In God We Trust signs (thanks, Republicans, for the likely unconstitutional SB797) and refused to listen to a staffer warning him not to violate the Open Meetings Act by talking about things not on the agenda. Elad was also upset that “their” sign donation wasn’t allowed and asked what the policy is on accepting donations. Sheesh! Fascism, thy name is Elad and Lowe.

Believe it or not, the meeting covered a large number of other topics too, something else the DMN article left out. They went over their safety and security protocols which included solidifying doors, emergency drills, daily exterior door sweeps, and reunification protocols should parents have to pick up their students after a shooting. I hope everyone realizes that other countries think we’re crazy to have to do this. We are. This is unacceptable. I realize schools are doing their best but all of the “improvements” were about “hardening” the buildings, essentially turning them into soft prisons. Do we really think this is what’s going to help versus gun safety policies and mental health initiatives? They also mentioned that they’re hiring 3 more SROs dedicated to elementary schools for an additional cost of $240,000. I’m going to talk more about SROs in a future column. They’re not the answer.

I was pleased that the school board cares enough about gun safety to create and act upon a Resolution Encouraging Safe Gun Storage Practices. Several members of Moms Demand Action showed up to speak in support of this item during public comments. The board also proposed an amendment that states they will develop a form or modify an existing form for the purpose of getting an acknowledgement of Texas Penal Code 46.13 and the availability of resources regarding safegun storage practices from all parents in Frisco ISD. The form will clearly state that FISD isn’t requesting any information from parents and that a parent’s acknowledgment of the statute and availability of resources doesn’t mean that the parent owns a firearm. The resolution with the proposed amendment passed 4-2 with (can you guess?) Elad and Lowe dissenting. Trustee Gopal Ponangi was probably glad he missed this meeting.

Hava Johnston, president of the Frisco Area Democratic Club, speaks at their meeting.

Plano City Council: You know how the council has been inundated with citizens irate about short-term rentals (STRs, like Airbnbs)? The council is looking into options for regulating them but seems likely to come down on the side of property owners. That may change now that a STR was used as a brothel. Police recently arrested a woman accused of operating a brothel (including the sex trafficking of several women) in a quiet neighborhood in Plano. Airbnb denies the home was rented using their platform but the criminals rented it somehow. While I believe in homeowner rights, it’s clear the council needs to provide some kind of regulation.

Local Politics: I recently had two people ask me how to do absentee voting. I dutifully directed them to the Collin County Elections page on absentee and by-mail ballots, confident that it would be easy. Nope. The writing on the form is tiny. Older voters will probably need a magnifying glass to read it. And the directions for how to fill it out are upside down. You have to print it off to get them right-side up. For many older voters or those who don’t have printers, this will be challenging. If you want an easier form to read, TDP has you covered..

The form makes you put down a reason you’re requesting to vote by mail. If you’re absent from the county (like off at college), you must provide the dates for when you get mail wherever else you are and when you’re going to return. If someone helps fill out the form or even just mails it for the voter, they must fill out a section as well. Whew! It’s one thing to read about voter suppression but another to see it right in front of you. I voted absentee when I was in college and it wasn’t nearly this difficult!

If you or someone you know is going to vote by mail, fill out the form NOW. Once the application has been sent, please call to make certain it’s been accepted and they have it in the system. If you have any questions or problems, please call 844-TX-VOTES.

We shouldn’t have to jump through these hoops to cast a ballot in a working democracy. Elected officials should be eager for every voice to be heard yet, here in Texas, it’s the opposite. We cannot let them get away with silencing us! That’s why, if our democracy is to survive, we all need to step up and get engaged in local politics. 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

  1. The right-wing crazies already have candidates running in McKinney for school board. They are well-funded with brochures and are paying for ads on Facebook. Frisco is not going to be the only one with multiple combative school board trustees if we’re not careful. Of course, McKinney already has Chad Green. He’s terrible, but at least he’s usually quiet. We do NOT want another one.

    Is everyone registered to vote??? If you’re not, please email me at I’ll come register you. We need EVERYONE to combat this scourge of incompetent, angry, hateful people who want only to tear down public schools and democracy.

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