Befuddled by the Clowns Official Endorsements for the 2018 Primary

Many people have asked me who I like for the 2018 primary. Here is my list so far:

US Senate: Ted Cruz
US Congressional District 32: Paul Brown (NOT, NOT, NOT RePete Sessions)

Governor: Greg Abbott
Lt. Governor: Dan Patrick
Texas Attorney General: Ken Paxton
Texas Comptroller: Glen Hegar
Agriculture Commissioner: Sid Miller
Railroad Commissioner: Christi Craddick
Land Commissioner: Dr. Davey Edwards (NOT, NOT, NOT Jerry Patterson or George P. Bush)

Texas Senate: Pat Fallon
Texas House District 89 to replace Laubenberg: John Payton

Collin County Judge: Chris Hill
Collin County Commissioner Precinct 2: Undecided

These endorsements are based upon a combination of past performance, strong conservative endorsements, and research I did. Check back here for updates as I make decisions on the candidates.

Last Day to Register to Vote: Tuesday, February 5
Early Voting: February 20 - March 2
Election Day: March 6

Wylie Tax Rate Still Highest in Collin County

I'm afraid to admit that the hubster and I went house hunting last weekend. I'm afraid to admit it because I'll have all my friends freaked out, wondering if we are going to move away, especially from the best-neighbors-ever.

I'm also afraid because my realtor will be miffed, thinking I am using someone else. I'm not. I simply didn't want to waste her time on a fact-finding mission.

We wanted to look at the new homes in Wylie to see if they offer something smaller than the McMansions we see springing up all over the place.

You would like to wonder if it would kill new home builders to make something a little more modest sized for empty-nesters. You see, I would like to downsize from a five bedroom to something that makes me a little less of a miserable housekeeper. Did I mention I really  hate cleaning and I hate having strangers in my house even more? I cannot tell you how many things cleaners broke through the years, so forget that notion.

After looking at quite a few new home complexes in Wylie (don't worry my dear realtor, I never give them my name or contact), I'm not even afraid of the prices. For us its about size and location, location, location. To my surprise, I located several new builds with great views in Wylie that would do nicely. Then I got home and did the math and was appalled.

At Wylie's tax rate of .781/100 valuation, coupled with the new tax bill limitation on property tax deductions, I would not be able to deduct the entire property tax on that $409K house we liked.

A fact that's a bummer for a lot of people in Wylie, who's homes are high $300Ks and up. With the new tax law, they will not be able to deduct any amount over $10K in property taxes next year. I'll see that tarnation and raise it by one damnation.

To be brutally honest, I'm not all that worried about taxing those who pay more than $10K in property taxes. I'm not in favor of taxpayers having to subsidize those of us who are being abused by our taxing authorities. Even though the city gave us a large tax break last year, we are still the highest taxed city in all of Collin County. The City of Wylie is an abuser.

For a little comparison let's look at a Kreymer Estates home on Carriage Run in Wylie, assessed in 2017 at $389.6K. The taxes on this property were approximately $10.1K.

I looked at this same model last weekend, which is priced considerably higher than that now. When the appraiser man comes this year, that house is going up, and so are the taxes. With the $10K threshold, those poor people will not be able to deduct several hundred dollars of their property taxes. Bummer.

It's kind of like the matching policy on the job. You want to take advantage of what an employer will match in your 401k - I want to take advantage of what I can write-off. If I cannot write it off, it's not all that advantageous to me.

Sure, a lot of people are in the same property tax boat, or are they? Lets look at a home on Mabray in Plano appraised for $417K, the tax bill was $9.2K. A $394K home on Albany in McKinney was taxed at $9.3K.

Even more shocking is that a $479K home in Murphy on Shadybrook is taxed the same $10.1K as that home in Kreymer Estates in Wylie, which is valued at almost $100K less. Have a think on that.

Also plaguing the county is the foreclosure rate. Take a quick glance at and you can see just how many people have been priced out of their homes. There are quite a few foreclosures in Wylie as well.

If you thought you won last year's tax rate battle with the City of Wylie, you are dead wrong. The city still has .10-.12/100 to right-size us with other communities in Collin County, so don't think for one minute that they did us any favors.

Oh sure, the city likes to pull comparisons, and they often use cities not in Collin County to do so. Don't let that fool you. Remind them that we reside in Collin County and the comparisons should be made here with communities like Allen, McKinney, Frisco, Prosper and Celina.

I suspect this nagging tax rate conundrum is going to make a repeat when the tax bills start hitting Wylie mailboxes a little later this year. Those who own homes appraised in the high $300Ks and up will definitely have something to gripe about. In fact, we may just see another group effort to curtail Wylie city officials who are clearly incapable of setting realistic tax and spend limitations, instead expecting homeowners to foot the bill.

This tax rate fight isn't over, not likely by a long shot.

Emoji Nation

Call me old school, but I am still a bit miffed that I was accused at a previous job of not being friendly enough in my communications. The suggestion was made that I add those ghastly smiley faces to my emails. No, seriously. To a communications professional, that is like telling a coffee connoisseur to add pickle juice to their daily brew. 

To my dismay, adoption of the little buggers was not optional. Not unless I wanted to deal with employees gossiping about me to my boss - but that's a book and sequel for another time.

So adopt, I did.

To show what a team player I am, here is a comparative sampling of my pre-emoji world vs. the forced excitability my ex-boss expected in my emails:

"Bob, please find the attached quote for our products and services. Let me know if you have any questions and I will be happy to put you in touch with one of our account managers."


"Hey Bob, your quote is attached. Let me know if you have questions :) Thanks!"

When did we become a nation of emoticon and uber-excitable, dare I say bordering on spastic, exclamation point composers?

Not only did we have emoticons to negotiate, but now we also have little dancing Saturday Night Fever figures, coffee cups, and green barfy faces as well. In fact, I could string a series of those pesky little things together and never again have to compose a message using text.

I suppose if you grew up back in the day when children were taught to share a meal without a phone in hand, then you may be a tad too formal for today's casual communication culture. Now it is unheard of to leave your handheld at home. Business lunch meetings almost require a period of conversing with head down, eyes averted and fingers tapping.

To be honest, I'm just as guilty as the rest. I routinely check in at restaurants and various places to stay on top of my growing inbox. In fact, this digital activity is not all that different than the chronicling of our young lives through rolls of film that were sent off to the developer. My parents have shoe-boxes of photographic evidence taken during family meals, intimate gatherings and arriving at grandma's house with wrapped presents.

This fact leads me to believe that would there were mobile phones back in the day, my parents would have been glued to them, just like we are. They may have even taken a selfie or two, had the equipment not been a large shoulder-held camera with a light attachment.

Given our innate tendency to highlight ourselves digitally, more so than we might normally in person, we can now share endless strings of selfies with ears and whiskers, and converse by stringing together emojis and gifs with the idea that others care to take part in our virtual game of charades and dress-up.

Still, I don't mind using the occasional smiley face and sharing a little gif mimery with my casual daily connections. Sometimes they are funny and fit when you want someone to know your snarky status update was just a joke. As a communications professional, however, I believe emojis are best left for social media posts and not emails representing what is presumably a professional organization.

As much as I long for the formality of proper salutations rather than fist bumps, this emoji world will clearly pass me by if I don't at least partially embrace our new casual culture.
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