Collin County Politics: We Must Vote for Democrats!

May 3, 2022

Picture: At the McKinney School Board meeting promoting public education. The blue shirts were for the Public Schools First McKinney PAC. The opposing side flipping us off and flying an offensive flag were edited out.

Covid Update: Collin County has 214,493 confirmed Covid cases. That’s 791 more cases than I reported last week and 1,504 of our Collin residents have died (still holding steady with NO increase!!).

Schools: True to their threat….er, promise, the Texas Public Policy Foundation began its Parent Empowerment Tour last week in McKinney. They advertise themselves as a non-partisan group but, if that’s true, I’ll eat my hat (e.g., they’re against student loan forgiveness). To wit: politicians in attendance included Angela Paxton, Matt Shaheen, Frederick Frazer, Paul Chabot, and George Fuller. I’d ding Fuller for it but after his national shaming of Republicans, I’ll give him a pass. Angela Paxton actually told the audience her philosophy as a state senator is “Listen, Learn, & Lead.” Are these people honest about anything? (Spoiler alert: The answer is no.)

During the meeting, they tipped their hand by saying that one silver lining of Covid and online school was, “We got to see what’s really going on.” True to form, they never explained what alarmed them. This is what Republicans do. They use vague phrases that sound sinister, allowing our imaginations to do the work without them ever having to mention specifics. I have to hand it to them, it’s kind of brilliant which is exactly why we cannot let them get away with it. We must demand they explain. If they give anecdotal evidence, demand they prove the problem is widespread. If they provide statistics, demand to know where they got them and then fact check them. Whatever you do, don’t take their word for it. And if they can’t explain coherently (which they can’t), trumpet that far and wide. Enough with letting them control the narrative.

Parent Empowerment is nothing more than a catchphrase for decimating public education. It’s their public-facing tactic to obscure what’s going on behind the scenes. They’re taking away money from public schools via various means, including the use of property taxes mostly to fund the state’s portion which, by the way, has been consistently shrinking. Those who attack public education fear an educated public.

Texas has an increasing teacher shortage which they’re not addressing in a meaningful way. Instead of examining the root cause for why teachers are leaving or why prospective candidates don’t follow through with jobs as educators, they utilize for-profit teacher prep programs that don’t offer the quality of education needed to be successful in the classroom. This has led some to label Texas education as “the wild west” while others point out the for-profit model doesn’t function well at all.

But that’s what happens when you don’t take care of your teachers. Our “leaders” in Austin don’t even care about their healthcare. The only reason health care costs for teachers and other school district employees won’t increase next school year is because Abbott is using $435 million of CARES money for the “TRS ActiveCare” program run by the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. They also used ARPA funds to give $286 million to help defray COVID-19-related health care costs. Please remember that if the federal government programs (created and voted for by Democrats) hadn’t passed these programs, Texas Republicans never would’ve helped teachers with Covid costs they incurred by being forced to work on the frontlines. Pathetic.

The other way Republicans are trying to destroy public education is by controlling what educators teach in the classroom. Although it’s happening everywhere, the Grapevine-Colleyville School Board is trying to be first in the race to the bottom. They’re currently attempting to restrict students’ access to information on race and gender under a controversial proposal that would also label any material addressing human sexuality as “potentially pornographic.” If adopted, employees who violate a wide-ranging list of prohibitions could face punishment. Who would want to teach under such conditions? If you think our teacher shortage is bad now, just wait. It’s about to get much, much worse.

Collin College Board of Trustees: Proponents of free speech and higher education held a rally prior to the board meeting last week. They were also there to support fired professors, Drs. Suzanne Jones and Michael Phillips. The rally was covered by Steven Monacelli who reported on our free speech problems in McKinney for Rolling Stone.

For those playing along at home, this makes 3 recent articles in Rolling Stone about McKinney politics. That doesn’t make us look good. Tell your Republican friends it will undoubtedly negatively affect our economic outlook. You could also throw in how Greg Abbott lost Texas a trade railway with Mexico worth billions. Mexico is now working with New Mexico, a blue state, because they’re more trustworthy. At this rate, Texas may not have much of an economy left if Republicans remain in charge.

The meeting began with a slideshow honoring teacher award finalists. Several slides had quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr. and Hannah Arendt. These excellent educators might’ve wondered if it was safe for them to include those particular quotes as many of their colleagues have been fired for utilizing their Constitutional right of free speech. Throughout the meeting, it became abundantly clear what a toxic atmosphere the college currently has since no less than 5 of the public speakers spoke on behalf of employees afraid to speak on their own for fear of retaliation.

Missy Irby, CFO, showed up to ask if they wanted to vote for a replacement for the Appraisal District Board. All 3 potential nominees were male and would be replacing another man. Looking at the 2 women and 8 men on the board, one wonders how well over 50% of the population is being represented. Irby tells them they don’t have to do anything about it and Crusty Collins (at least I think it was him; the video is terrible, probably on purpose) was dismissive since he doesn’t know any of the men. Stacey Donald asked if they could have a presentation on who these men are. Irby says she doesn’t know why anyone would want to sit on the board since property assessments are “running amok” right now. Donald rightly counters that this is a big responsibility but her objections are in vain. The men decided it didn’t matter. OK fine, they actually voted on it but that’s what it amounted to.

Irby also mentioned that taxpayers have to eat thousands of dollars for a nonrefundable deposit for an event canceled in 2020. The loss is covered by CARES funding and board members acted happy to use it even though they’ve long insisted Covid wasn’t a big deal. It does seem odd that they were willing to accept the funds given their distrust of public health and disgust of the federal government. In fact, when one of the trustees mentioned that the government bailed us out, Crusty said, “Yeah, right.”

By the way, on the subject of CARES funding, you should really look into what they’re using it for because many of their projects are barely correlated to Covid at all. Typical. Also, they’re spending $13 million on “Workday Student” app.

One last point about funding. I’d love to know what kind of oversight the college has because there are clearly a lot of shenanigans going on. Collin has had 3 CFOs in 5 years, they’ve expanded all over the place (including on land right next to property owned by Crusty’s family), and Matkin just received a contract they won’t disclose to the public along with bonuses they won’t provide criteria for. Just what has he done for that money? Time for a FOIA request because we need to Follow the Money!

The BoT (and some other school boards) split their public comment sections by allowing anyone speaking on agenda items to go at the beginning of the meeting while those wanting to comment generally have to wait until the end. This is their way of making it difficult for the public to speak. If that’s their intent, we should go around it by choosing an agenda item, saying 1 sentence on it, and then moving on to the rest of your comment. I’m shocked this wasn’t one of the “hacks” provided by Darrell Hale and the Big Hathole during their workshop. If you speak on an agenda item, perhaps you can avoid waiting for an hour and a half to speak. They’ll probably interrupt you though.

The BoT is dancing as hard as it can to avoid transparency or accountability by the public. This includes everything from a terrible video of the meeting, the splitting of the public comment section, and the placement of the microphone. They insist public speakers use a lone microphone way off to the side instead of the center microphone with a podium used by those giving presentations. That way, the trustees can focus only on the “important” speakers and don’t have to look at the peons unless they just want to. One speaker tried to test this theory by using the center microphone. They actually had 3 police officers escort him out of the room and, once outside, had even more waiting to ensure he drove off-campus. I doubt even an active shooter threat would be met with that much force. After all, Republicans love guns, not free speech.

The speakers were united in their disgust for the board and in requesting they reinstate Dr. Phillips. Several speakers specifically called out Matkin’s racist and anti-semantic statements and cushy contract. One pointed out that his car allowance alone is more than an adjunct professor teaching 1 course makes all semester. Although most of their comments appeared to bounce off board members, Stacy Arias proved she was paying attention. During her comment time, she noted that retaining quality staff is about more than just good compensation. She said that their Titanic – a wonderful and unique ship – has hit an iceberg and the band continues to play rather than trying to find solutions. That was refreshing.

Commissioner’s Court: Duncan Webb and Cheryl Williams were both absent, leaving only 3 commissioners to attend the 13-minute. Do 3 commissioners constitute a quorum? I’ve been told Webb has back problems. I wish him a speedy recovery. The commissioners continued to show their contempt for the public by going into executive session 5 minutes into a meeting they knew would be short. Pathetic.

During Public Comments, Joshua Murray mentioned that Elections Supervisor Bruce Sherbet recently said he had openings for 40 temporary workers during the last election but was only able to fill 6 positions. The commissioners basically fired the primary agency we previously used for temp workers because they increased the pay of their workers. Murray suggested that perhaps the agency had to do that, not out of the goodness of their hearts (the horror!) but because that’s what they had to do to recruit workers. He then asked the court to look at all departments, determine their staffing needs, then take those needs into consideration for the budget given the demand for workers and the average pay.

It’s a great suggestion but they’ll never do it because they’re not fiscally responsible. Yes, you read that right. Their job is to adequately staff county agencies so constituents get their needs met. If they’re not doing that – and they’re definitely not – then they’re being irresponsible. As an aside, I was watching Hill during Murray’s 3 minutes. He never once looked at him. What a baby!

Frisco School Board: Every municipal election, we face the same question: even though there’s a qualified Democrat in the race, should we vote for the “least worst” Republican candidate to prevent extreme rightwing candidates from being elected? The answer is no. Whenever there’s a qualified Democrat in a race, we must support that person. Don’t you find it odd that Republicans never seem to have this dilemma? I have yet to hear about them voting for Democrats in an effort to elect sane leaders. If they did, we’d be winning races. But no, their candidates get worse every cycle (while ours are awesome) so they’re clearly not policing their own. Why? Because they depend on us to split the vote. As with everything else, we need to stop playing their game.

Yes, these races are technically non-partisan, but Republicans sure don’t view them that way and haven’t for decades. These elections are how they build their bench! We must do the same and the way we do that is by supporting Democrats who run. Future candidates need to know we support our own people. Running for office is an incredibly time-consuming, stressful, expensive, and difficult journey. If those considering a future run realize they may not even gain the support of those in their own party, they may decide not to bother. That leaves us with no candidates which means we’ll be forced to vote for whoever the Republicans put up and nothing changes.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that “moderates” will reach across the aisle and work with us. The vast majority won’t. Like is true of dictators and bullies, appeasing Republicans by electing them never gets us very far. They’re rarely appreciative of Democrat support and, once elected, usually start catering to their Republican overlords and fanbase. You know, the ones they view as their real constituents. We’re just a means to an end.

And don’t give me the tired argument that Democrats can’t win. Democrats win when we vote for them. As I keep pointing out, municipal races are notoriously low turnout elections. Races are often won by a few hundred votes. If we insist our low-voting Democratic colleagues get to the polls, we stand a good chance of winning. Just imagine what could happen if everyone stopped voting for Republicans (they truly do not deserve our votes) and instead started getting out Democratic voters! The future of Collin County could be bright.

In FISD Place 2, Democrat Kelly Karthik is running against 2 opponents. One is an anti-CRT crazy; the other is the incumbent. During the pandemic, Karthik wanted the school board to meet with concerned families, let them know what safety measures they were implementing, listen to community suggestions for increased protection of students and employees (like following CDC guidelines), and at the very least put an item on the agenda so Covid protocols could be discussed. No response from anyone on the board, including her opponent. Karthik organized over 1,000 families to sign petitions, protest at meetings, and reach out to trustees in an effort to get heard. Nothing. Finally, as a last resort, they filed a lawsuit.

True leaders emerge in times of crisis (just look at Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky) and Karthik stepped up. In addition to being a voice for public safety, she objected to the board moving public comment to a time separate from board meetings (since she favors transparency and working with the community), and has been a strong advocate for progressive values. Unlike her opponent, she’s never glowingly tweeted about Trump, the insurrection, or Covid conspiracies. Nor has she been accused of making racist comments. Karthik is the Democrat in the race and she’s amazing. She deserves our votes.

McKinney School Board: I hope you ate your Wheaties because you’re in for a long and wild ride on this! As you can tell by the picture above, the school board meeting last week was intense and the public comments battle was just the beginning. Both sides were present in front of the building at least an hour before the meeting started. There was a strong police presence and, at one point, a news helicopter circled overhead. It’s important to note that some members of the other side weren’t from McKinney or even Collin County. They’re agitators sent in to stoke outrage and disrupt the proceedings.

One of them was purposefully smoking in the midst of the crowd. When a police officer told him to put it out, he threw it on the sidewalk, then tried to resist as police took him to the parking lot to write him a ticket for littering and smoking on school grounds. Unfortunately, they made more work for themselves by letting him into the meeting. Shortly after it started, they had to eject him and two others for disrupting the proceedings. The three yelled, “Get your hands off me!” and “Pervert!” at the officers trying to keep the peace. Note to cops: Republicans may say they’re your friends but, when push comes to shove, they’ll treat you poorly. Case in point: January 6th.

Unlike all the other elected officials present at the meeting, Trustee Chad Green (aka the Big Hathole) decided to enter the building through the crowd of protesters. I suspect he thought the green crowd (“his” people) would stand aside for him like Moses parting the Red Sea but they didn’t. Most didn’t even seem to know who he was. He had to circle the crowd in order to edge into the building.

Public Comments lasted a while since everyone who signed up to speak was allowed to do so. It was pretty evenly split between the book banners and those in support of public education. I’ve heard that the sane elected officials truly appreciated our presence and support since they’ve been battling the crazies for months. Many of our speakers mentioned how we shouldn’t let those from outside our district influence what we do. In response, board president Amy Dankel (rather wearily) mentioned that the Texas state legislature changed the law to allow anyone who wants to talk instead of only hearing from those in the district, students, or teachers. So, if you want someone to blame for much of this insanity, look no further than your Republican “leaders.” They’re kind of the root of all evil.

The book banners were desperately trying to insist they’re not trying to ban books. They also said their objections aren’t political but are instead moral (wrong again). They’re getting defensive, which is exactly where we want them to be. Others haven’t gotten the message that they need to at least look reasonable. One woman said she hadn’t read through the books in their entirety and doesn’t need to. Rachel Green started weeping as she read “pornographic” words she’d never say in real life. It’s weird that she’s so worried about kids reading the very passages she read in public in front of her 9 year old daughter and other students.

While it seemed like most of the school board don’t support the book banners, I’m not so sure. At the end of the comments section, Superintendent Rick McDaniel discussed the TEA’s model policy and said he wants to examine it with regard to the process of reconsideration because he also objects to lewd, and overly sexual material. He’s either playing with fire or doesn’t want to look like a book banner. I suggest he trust his employees – librarians and teachers, the true subject matter experts – to decide which books are appropriate for students and let the reconsideration process they have now stand. It’s been doing fine.

But those weren’t the only major events from the meeting! Big Hathole is proving himself to be even more unfit to serve than we suspected. An independent counsel hired to investigate possible violation(s) of unspecified penal codes by Green reported on his findings in open session, as requested by Green.

This is what happened. In early March, Reuben Johnson Elementary hosted an on-campus Family Fun Day event. As part of the event, a robotics demonstration was put on by Five Star Innovation (FSI) where Green is CEO. The FSI booth was staffed by Rachel and Paul Elliott and Dan Porzio, all wearing McKinney First PAC t-shirts. The booth also included banners and pamphlets about the PAC. Hathole was also there.

According to the investigative counsel, these actions were in violation of education code, election code, and MISD board policy, all of which prohibit the use of school/government facilities for political advertising. Another possible violation was Hathole posting photos of RJE students at the robotics demonstration on social media without obtaining permission from the children’s parents. This is in violation of board policy as well as the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), potentially jeopardizing MISD’s standing with (and, presumably, funding from) the US Department of Education.

Yet another violation was of campus security protocols, as Green gained entrance to the campus facilities by use of his district badge, but then failed to properly sign in and out as a visitor and obtain a visitor’s badge. District policy specifies that these security protocols must be followed by board members. As a result, the counsel concluded that these violations amounted to “dereliction of duty as a servant of the district, and violation of public trust” by Chad Green.

The investigation also revealed that FSI isn’t currently authorized to do business in the state of Texas, due to delinquency in filing proper franchise tax reports. There is some question as to whether FSI is a non-profit or a for-profit enterprise. Green classified it as “for-profit” in an interview by the investigative attorney; however, the attorney found that it had been registered with the state as a non-profit when it was established, though it failed to follow through on obtaining tax-exempt status. I’d love to be surprised but this is typical Republican grift and mismanagement.

The board refused to make any decisions about it during the meeting as they need to confer with the district attorney about what corrective actions might be appropriate. In the meantime, all of them (except Green of course) voted that Hathole must be accompanied to all campuses by another board member, and must also get written permission at least 24 hours before a visit to be on a campus from whoever is in charge of the campus. It would be hilarious if he was denied permission.

There’s yet another issue with Green. Texas has mandatory continuing education hours and training for school board members. They must report in open session once a year about the status of board members who’ve completed the required training. In a shocking twist, it was discovered that the ONLY board member who had not completed their required training was ole Hathole. Every other board member exceeded the required hours, including the two newest ones.

The 3 training modules Green didn’t complete are the ones on Texas education code training (perhaps if he’d completed this module, he might not have broken the law), evaluating student academic growth and performance, and – you can’t make this stuff up – identifying and reporting child abuse and trafficking. So, the dude who’s all about protecting children from “groomers” can’t be bothered to learn about how to identify true predators.

I am only one but I am still one. I cannot do everything but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do.

Helen Keller

Local Politics: Election Day for municipal elections is this Saturday (May 7th). Public education and democracy itself are on the ballot, so YOU MUST VOTE!! Here are my recommendations. Please note that these are my personal choices.

Allen ISD: Christina Cabral, Joe Boylan, Snober Lakhani

Allen City Council: Chris Schulmeister, Ben Trahan

Constitutional Amendments: Your choice. They’ll pass regardless.

Frisco ISD: Gopal Ponangi, Kelly Karthik, Dustin Paschal

Lovejoy ISD: Julie McLaughlin

Murphy City Council: Elizabeth Abraham, Jene Butler

Parker City Council: Edwin Smith

Prosper ISD: Jorden Dial, Kelly Cavender, Lane Chamblee

Prosper City Council: Marcus Ray

If we want to save our democracy, each and every one of us must step up and do more. Consider running for office. If you want to become more active in your community, please sign up to join the team covering your city council or school board. Everyone is welcome. Also, please send me pictures of local Democratic activism. It’s important people see us at work. Emails sent to will find me.

Comments 3

  1. Wow! Thank you for all this important information. There is a huge attack on free speech and education at all levels. Really eye opening.

  2. Excellent, as always. As I attended the McKinney School Board, I can attest to the fact that every word of this report is true. It was MIND-BOGGLING the amount of vitriol, handwringing, and posturing by the radicals in the audience. Our side was respectful and supportive of public education. Their side called for the arrest (I’m not making this up) for school board members.

    This is a five-alarm fire. These people have no sense, no respect, and no ability to think independently. But they are organized. And they want to burn everything down.

    VOTE FOR DEMOCRATS. We are our only hope.

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