Hello Collin County,
It’s been quite the week. Let me help break it down for you and show what is affecting us here in Collin County. This week, we hear from McKinney, Richardson, and Parker. And of course, more bills! As the chaos continues around us, let’s remember what we’re trying to accomplish. We want common sense governance that includes all of us. We want responsible planning for future generations. We want Democracy, damn it. Incredibly, there are enemies of common-sense Democracy that stand in our way. We know where we stand. Don’t lose sight. Just do what you can to spread a little common sense to your neighbors. Common sense is not radical.
McKinney City Council
At their April 4th meeting, the McKinney National Airport expansion was the center of attention. This expansion would add a commercial terminal at the airport, which the city hopes will increase revenues. At this meeting, citizens expressed concerns over the additional traffic and its environmental impact on the surrounding community. The city projects that they will need approximately $300 million to complete the expansion. $200 million of which would be voter-approved general obligation bonds. The remaining portion would come from federal grants and loans. Though this is a big number and will be costly, the city’s reason for this expansion lies in increased revenues. Estimates show that revenues for the airport could double within the next 20 years if approved. Currently, the expanded airport is estimated to turn a profit some time in the 40s, the 2040s that is. Projects like this that are focused on increasing revenues always benefit from community involvement. None of us want to see a negative impact on the community or environment for profit’s sake. I highly encourage all McKinney residents to get as informed and involved as possible in this process. Let’s make sure this gets implemented in a way that prioritizes the community’s needs. Reach out to your city council and ask questions. Don’t let the folks with deep pockets be the ones who make all the decisions. All of us should be making the decision together.
In other news, one resident reports that someone is shooting off a cannon in the King’s Lake area every evening to scare off egrets. I don’t even know what to say to that. Y’all be careful up there in McKinney.
At their March 28th meeting, Trustee Green was notably absent. He has instead prioritized his attendance at several church events campaigning for a slate of far-right Republican candidates. The rest of his time is spent badmouthing his own district and drumming up wildly false accusations while under oath in front of state House committees. Trustee Green has made his priorities clear, and we should respond appropriately. I encourage McKinney ISD residents to study those ethics policies and file grievances as appropriate. Board President Amy Dankel announced that the board will now be following up with clarifying comments and written summaries of school board meetings, likely in response to some of Trustee Green’s nonsense.
McKinney ISD now has a new Superintendent. Shawn Pratt was welcomed to the district at his first meeting as Superintendent in typical McKinney ISD fashion. A wide range of, some well-informed and some misinformed, community members took to the people’s podium to express their views. Some went as far as to claim that most McKinney residents are christian and conservative. Some even accused leadership of being praised by Satanists and child abusers. Some blamed declining enrollment on woke ideology such as technology in the classroom and pornography in the library. Where do these people come up with this stuff? Oh yeah, right, Chad Green. Among those statements was also confirmation that these families, who are being fed bull dung by Trustee Green, are moving to charter schools and homeschooling. What is contributing to declining enrollment? In part, Chad Green.
All those big scary acronyms also found their way into public comments. DEI, SEL, and CRT… oh my. As if Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Social-Emotional Learning are bad things? I don’t get it. Neither do they apparently. And don’t get me started on trying to explain that Critical Race Theory is simply an explanation of the realities of racial discrimination, and that it isn’t taught in public schools! Some residents had a little more common sense and spoke out against Chad’s false testimony in Austin. Some also had the common sense to fight back against the book banning and promote these Pulitzer Prize winning authors that some are trying to ban. Some asked conservative board members to show some common sense and speak out against the extremist right-wing comments made by Trustees like Chad Green. Even more common-sense residents drowned out the extremists by speaking out against banning books because of religious beliefs. Our schools are not churches. Common sense prevails thanks to people who choose to speak up and out against hateful extremism. Thank you to everyone who showed up to speak in support of common sense at this meeting. Trustee Jagours closed with a little more common sense, stating that we should want to be informed. He clarified that the dictionary definition of “woke” is simply being aware and actively attentive to important societal facts and issues, especially issues of racial and social justice. We should all want to be informed. Don’t sleep on these city council and school board meetings. They are important to remaining aware and actively attentive to the issues in our community.
Richardson City Council
At their April 3rd meeting, TxDOT announced that they are getting rid of the HOV-lane pylons on U.S. 75 to implement a hybrid peak-hour lane that will hopefully speed up traffic times. The project, expected to be completed in 2026, will span from I-635 to Sam Rayburn Tollway.
Richardson’s 150th Anniversary will be celebrated on June 24th. A time capsule, filled with items from the community, will be buried to be reopened in 2073. The annual Trash Bash event also takes place this Saturday, April 15th. I encourage all, but especially us Democrats, to get involved in the litter clean-up events conducted by the city.
At their April 4th meeting, the City Plan Commission introduced two newly sworn-in commissioners. Sebrena Bohnsack and Byron Purdy are the newest members. Later in the meeting, the commission recommended approval for a five-story multi-family development. It will now move on to the city council for consideration. Staff reports indicate that the city council will need to consider the development’s impact on the near-capacity wastewater infrastructure. I will look forward to the public hearing in front of the city council.
Parker City Council
At their April 4th meeting, the City of Parker appointed Kenneth Price as their new Chief of Police. Chief Price was formerly the Assistant Chief of Police. Later in the meeting, donations to the city’s police and fire departments were recorded. One of the accepted donations that the city felt necessary to record was $15 worth of chocolates to the police department. Talk about transparency!
Take a deep breath now. A lot is happening in the legislature this week.
The Herrero amendment for HB 1 was adopted by the Texas House. This amendment prohibits state funds from being used to pay for school voucher programs. HB 1 is the bill that will establish the budget for this legislature, so it is a big one. The bill now heads over to the Senate. Now is the time to let your state senators know that you want them to support teacher raises and increased funding for public education. Make sure they know that we do NOT support vouchers. Also included in the budget were $17 billion in property tax reductions, $5 billion in new funding for public schools, and $3.5 billion for a long overdue cost-of-living adjustment for retired teachers. Let’s keep up the fight for public education!
A long overdue bill, HB 2055, would remove language that refers to the LGBTQIA+ community’s existence as criminal. This bill appears to still be stuck in the House committee on Criminal Jurisprudence, though it has had a vote taken. Contact your representatives and those on the committee to encourage them to pass this out of the House. We need to remove this unconstitutional language.
Several bills that relate to school voucher schemes are scheduled for a hearing this week. HB 619 is a confusing one, but in short it would make it possible for state funds to be used as a tax credit for folks who donate to organizations that help fund private schools. In other words, it’s a cup game bill that makes it easy for state money to be used for private schools. Tell the House Public Education committee and your representatives to vote no on this bill.
Over in the Senate, SB 8 was passed and now heads over to the House. This is the big voucher bill that provides $8,000 ($2,000 more than the allotment for public schools) towards private schooling. Now is the time to let your representatives know that this bill cannot pass. The House must vote this bill down. Vouchers will destroy our public education system. We cannot allow them to pass.
SB 14 unfortunately passed out of the Senate last week. This bill would prevent doctors from providing life-saving gender-affirming care to trans youth. This bill will now head over to the House. Let your representatives know that this bill must be voted down. We cannot sit idly by while the LGBTQIA+ community’s very existence is being attacked by this legislature.
While you’re at it, tell them to vote down another bad bill, SB 12, which was also passed out of the Senate last week. This bill would create a $10,000 civil penalty for any drag performance in front of a minor. Do not let them get away with this. Tell your representatives to vote no on SB 12.
One final bill and then I’m done for this week. SB 1601 would pull public funding from libraries that host Drag Storytime events. We are supposed to be working towards inclusion, not actively pushing for exclusion. This bill was also passed out of the Senate and heads to the House, where we had better make damn sure it fails.
That’s it for this week. Next week, I will continue to discuss what is happening at city council and school board meetings across the county, and more legislative updates! I could still use your help covering these meetings, especially in smaller towns that don’t always record video of their meetings. If you find yourself anxious and wondering how to help, we have a place for you in the Liberal Women’s Action Network, the organization that provides these reports. Reach out if you have the time and energy, and we’ll put you to work. Make sure to watch your meetings this week, and don’t forget the sunscreen as you go out block-walking for our municipal, school board, and college board candidates this weekend. Thanks for taking a moment to be informed. And huge thanks to everyone that provided reports this week! I’ll see you next week.
Justin Wray Neth