Tag Archives: Collin County

Happy Trails, Part 132: Feeling more like ‘home’

I took Toby the Puppy for a walk this afternoon. Then it dawned on me as I looked at our surroundings.

Collin County is feeling more like “home” to me. I believe it is for my wife, too. Toby the Puppy? He’s fine no matter where he is, as long as we’re with him.

It’s more of a sense than anything else. You know already that we’re getting more comfortable navigating our way around the Metroplex. The sense today is that our neighborhood is feeling more like we belong here.

Now, we aren’t likely to stay in our particular neighborhood forever. My wife and I are moving toward purchasing a new home; at the moment, we are renting an apartment. We like our residence just fine, but we have this desire to sink our roots a little more deeply into our new surroundings.

It helps satisfy my own sense of belonging to feel more acclimated to our new surroundings.

I discovered in 1984 that I am a highly adaptable creature. We moved from Oregon to the Texas Gulf Coast that spring. I had spent my entire life in Portland — except for two years in the Army, which took me to the East Coast and eventually to Southeast Asia.

Oregon was “home” for me. Then opportunity called and we settled in Southeast Texas. That was our home for nearly 11 years. More opportunity called and we pulled up stakes and settled in Amarillo, which became our home for more than 23 years.

Our life in Beaumont became the new normal. Then it shifted to the Texas Panhandle.

Now it is reconstituting in Collin County, just a bit north of Dallas. Most importantly, we’re now just a few minutes away from our precious granddaughter.

As I look around our new digs, though, my comfort level is more satisfied believing that I am feeling at home.

More road work on the way

I guess I thought wrong.

I had hoped to have moved away from incessant street, road and highway construction when we relocated this past spring from Amarillo to Fairview.

Silly me.

The midterm election this week included a three-part bond issue for Collin County residents to consider. Two of the parts called for expenditure of several hundred millions of dollars to improve and build new streets and highways in the county. The third part seemed at first blush to be somewhat counterintuitive: It calls for parks and open spaces to deal with expected skyrocketing population growth in Collin County. Why might that be counterintuitive? Growth means more housing and need for housing space; not necessarily room for parks and open space.

Collin County voters approved all three measures … and by comfortable margins at that!

I won’t complain about the highway construction. We’ll just have to find ways to navigate around it once it commences.

I do want to comment briefly on the parks matter.

I am a big believer in parks and open spaces. Thus, I am glad that voters have seen fit to approve that part of the county’s ambience.

My wife and I have noticed already on our travels through Collin County an abundance of parkways. Many thoroughfares are beautifully landscaped with grassy medians and plenty of trees. Indeed, we live on a parkway that cuts through Fairview. We enjoy driving along it and enjoy walking along the parkway with Toby the Puppy.

I don’t yet know where the county will develop its new parks and where it will set aside the open space. Collin County already has no shortage of beautifully manicured parks. There will be more.

County officials’ intent is to make Collin County more attractive to future residents. Well, it worked on two new residents: that would be my wife and me.

The road work? We’ll just have to suck it up. Besides, we’re already used to it.

No line at polling station … hmm

I was half expecting to wait in line this morning when I went to my Collin County, Texas, voting station down the street where my wife and I live.

It didn’t happen. We walked, checked in, got our access card, cast our ballots and left. Just like that. In and out in, oh, 12 minutes.

All this talk about the huge surge in early voting? Does it mean a surge in overall turnout? Does it mean Texas won’t be among the worst performing voter turnout states in the Union?

I don’t know. I get that one polling station doesn’t tell the whole story.

Still, I hope the huge spike in early voting doesn’t portend a scenario that results in the early vote detracting from the number of Election Day voters.

We’ll know in due course.

Clear your throat, but first … be sure to vote!

You’ve heard it said, “Don’t bitch if you don’t vote.”

I’m going to keep bitching because I am going to vote later today.

My polling place is 8 minutes away by car. It’s at a school in Collin County. Will there be a long line? I don’t know. Nor does it matter. I’ve got time on my hands. I have nowhere to go today.

My post-election griping might take a little different turn. To be candid, I am getting a little weary of speaking so critically about Donald John Trump. I am running out of ways to say the same thing, which is that Trump is not fit to be president.

But … he is the president.

I want to concentrate more on issues that concern me. The world is in a perilous place because of climate change, the war on terror, the fight over nationalism vs. globalism, nuclear proliferation … those kinds of things. I won’t abandon completely my criticism of the president, but I want desperately to take this blog into another direction as we head into the second half of Donald Trump’s term as president.

My vote later today will give me license to speak out and to criticize the president of the United States.

How about you?

Ahh, thank goodness for this technology

I am about to provide you with more evidence that I have arrived — finally! — into the 21st century, that I have joined the techno-communications generation.

I called the Collin County clerk’s office this morning. I told a nice lady on the other end of the line I am a “brand new resident of Collin County.” I said I needed the address of the nearest voting center so I can vote Tuesday in the midterm election.

She asked for my address. Then she told me it’s at Puster Elementary School.

“Do you need the address, or do you want me to give you directions on how to get there?” she asked.

I chuckled. “Oh, no,” I told her. “I have this fancy phone that shows me how to get to anywhere I need to go. I just punch in the name of the school and it guides me there,” I said.

She responded with a chuckle of her own, “Aren’t those phones just great?”

Yes. They are, indeed.

Gosh, I hope I didn’t sound smug.

Early votes keeping piling up

Texas well might be on the verge of shucking a title I am quite certain Texans don’t want their state to hold.

The Texas Tribune reports that in several of the state’s most-populated counties, the 2018 early vote totals have surpassed the entire number of ballots cast during the entire early voting period during the 2014 midterm election.

Texas, sadly, is known to be one of the country’s most underperforming states in terms of voter turnout, particularly during these off-year elections. Is that going to change?

There appears to be no letup in store during this year’s early voting season leading up to Election Day on Nov. 6.

Democratic partisans suggest the huge spike in this balloting bodes well for their candidates. Republican partisans counter that their folks are energized, too, which will benefit the GOP slate of candidates.

I’m out of the loop. I haven’t spoken to party officials on either side in Collin County, one of the state’s larger counties. Collin County is known to be a heavily Republican bastion, although it’s not nearly as dependably Republican as Randall County, where my wife and I lived for 23 years before moving to the Metroplex earlier this year.

The question facing congressional candidates in places like Collin County rests with how “suburban women” are going to vote. We live in a suburban county populated by many thousands of such women who well might be turned off by the rhetoric that comes from those on the right and far right. The Senate hearings to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh brought many of their concerns to the fore, given the accusation leveled against Kavanaugh by a woman who alleges he assaulted her sexually in the early 1980s.

Does this represent a groundswell against Republican candidates for Congress — for the House and Senate? Democratic senatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke’s supporters certainly hope so.

Oh, one more thing: I hope so, too.

Living near the center of the early-vote explosion

I reside in the sixth most populous county in Texas, which has 254 of them spread over 268,000 square miles.

I am pleased to report that Collin County has taken its place at the head of the parade of counties where early voting totals for this year’s midterm election has smashed prior records.

The Texas Tribune has published voter turnouts for the state’s 30 largest counties. The early vote response is astonishing.

In 2014, the previous midterm election year, 18.336 Collin County residents voted early after the first couple of days. This year, the total of early votes so far is 74,273. What’s more, the 2016 early-vote totals — in a presidential election year — totaled 68,241 ballots. So this year’s midterm, non-presidential election year, so far is exceeding the turnout for a presidential year. Astounding!

Early vote totals exploding

The early returns on the number of early votes is encouraging … if it means a commensurate spike in the overall turnout. I hope that’s the case. I’ve long lamented the state’s historically miserable voter turnout performance. Texas ranks near the bottom of the nation’s 50 states in that regard. We ain’t No. 1 there, folks.

Maybe when all the ballots are counted in less than two weeks, Texas can finish somewhere up the list of states. The early numbers ae encouraging.

As I’ve noted longer than I can remember, representative democracy works better when more of us take part in this fundamental right of citizenship in a free and liberated nation.

Blowing smoke, or is Beto the real deal?

Mick Mulvaney, budget director for the Donald Trump administration, has sounded a serious alarm bell.

He has told Republican faithful that U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas could lose his attempt at being re-elected. He said Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke poses a serious threat to the Cruz Missile (my description, not his … obviously).

How does one take this? Is it an attempt to gin up support among Republicans who until now had been sitting on their hands? Or is it a legitimate concern from a key Trump aide who think one of the GOP’s once-safest seats might be in serious jeopardy?

I cannot assess the motive behind Mulvaney’s assessment.

Mulvaney sounds the alarm

I’m not close to any political movements these days. I rely on what I see and hear in the media, or what I see on the street as I make my way through life.

I keep hearing about O’Rourke’s astonishing welcome in the Texas Panhandle, where I used to live. I hear about all the O’Rourke lawn signs showing up in tony old-money neighborhoods — such the Wolflin neighborhood in Amarillo — where residents have traditionally voted Republican.

Here, in Collin County, I’m not yet seeing evidence of this O’Rourke phenomenon. I drive through neighborhoods and I see a smattering of O’Rourke lawn signs, but nothing like the volume I hear about cropping up in Amarillo. I will add, though, that Cruz signs are quite rare, so perhaps there’s some anecdotal evidence of an O’Rourke “surge” in the final two months of the Senate campaign.

Yes, I have seen the polls. The race appears to be a dead heat. There remain, though, a large body of undecided voters, or at least those voters who aren’t yet ready to tell pollsters how they intend to vote. They remain the big prize awaiting to be lured either by Cruz or O’Rourke political machines.

Back in Washington, the budget director says Cruz could lose this contest.

I hope he’s right.

If POTUS campaigns for Cruz, here’s a thought

The more I think about it the less likely it appears that Donald John Trump will accept U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s invitation to campaign for Cruz’s re-election bid.

I have this feeling in my gut that the men detest each other.

Trump called Cruz “Lyin’ Ted” during the 2016 GOP presidential campaign. Cruz called Trump an “amoral narcissist” and a “pathological liar.” Trump linked Cruz’s father with the JFK murder in Dallas in 1963. Cruz called Trump out for denigrating his family, including his wife, Heidi.

How can they share a stage together? My view? They can’t.

But if Trump proves me wrong — and that’s always entirely possible, if not likely — he ought to come to Collin County. This is strong Republican county just north of Dallas County. It’s tailor-made for someone of the Cruz Missile’s ilk. I haven’t lived here long enough to get a full reading of the lay of the land, but my hunch is that Trump has a reservoir of popularity here.

What’s more, we have a nice venue just around the corner from where my wife and I live. It’s the Allen Event Center. It seats a lot of folks. It’s a modern facility. It’s within walking distance of our residence.

I so want to attend a Trump political rally. You know, of course, it’s not because I want to cheer his every idiotic utterance. It’s not because I want Ted Cruz to win re-election. No, I plan to support Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke.

My intent is to attend this rally with notebook and pen in hand. I crave additional grist for High Plains Blogger.

Sadly, I fear that it won’t happen.

Maybe I can persuade the president to come this way.

Political learning curve about to commence

I met a most interesting gentleman this morning, someone who almost immediately after extending his hand to greet my wife and me invited me to come to Fairview’s town hall to familiarize myself with the community’s political climate.

This fellow is a member of the Fairview Town Council. I am reluctant to give you his name, as he doesn’t know I’m writing about him. Maybe I’ll divulge it later.

Our relocation has been pretty smooth and seamless as we have settled in this community tucked between Allen and McKinney in Collin County. My wife and I are registered to vote now in our new community of residence, which removes any chance for us to vote in Randall County, where we lived for 23-plus years.

I wanted to vote in the race for 13th Congressional District. That won’t happen now. We’ll get to vote for a new representative in the 3rd Congressional District, which has been represented since 1991 by U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson (pictured), a former Vietnam prisoner of war. Johnson is retiring at the end of the year.

I’ll need to study up on the individuals seeking to succeed Rep. Johnson.

My new friend from Fairview implied that next year’s municipal election will be a contentious affair. He didn’t go into detail; the setting of our meeting this morning made it difficult for him to spend too much time explaining what he implied.

My career took me to Amarillo in January 1995. My job as editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News required me to get acquainted in a hurry with the political lay of the land, just as it had required the same of me in Beaumont, when we moved to the Gulf Coast in the spring of 1984.

I have no job requirements these days. However, my instinctive nosiness — which was bred and nurtured by nearly four decades in print journalism — compels me to sniff around at Fairview’s Town Hall.

So, I believe I will seek to satisfy my nosy nature by continuing this relationship with my new acquaintance.

Hey, my retirement doesn’t render me disinterested … you know?