City of Plano schedules recall election for Tom Harrison, whose anti-Islam Facebook activity prompted petition effort

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Plano voters will have an opportunity to decide whether Council Member Tom Harrison will retain his seat after the council scheduled a recall election, a significant step for a group of Plano residents who sought to remove Harrison for sharing a series of anti-Islam content on his personal Facebook page.

The Plano City Council scheduled a Nov. 6 election date to determine Harrison’s future on the council after the city secretary’s office confirmed earlier Monday that a petition the group circulated had obtained enough valid signatures to trigger the recall election process outlined in the city charter.

Harrison’s seven council colleagues had voted unanimously on Feb. 18 to admonish him for statements made on his personal Facebook page, including links Harrison shared in 2016 to articles that made politicized statements about black fatherhood and falsely asserted that all present-day slaveowners are Muslim. All of Harrison’s fellow council members at the time either suggested he should resign or called for his resignation outright.

The city attorney’s office brought these posts and others to the council’s attention within days of Harrison sharing a Facebook video on Feb. 13 from another account that called for President Donald Trump to “ban Islam in American schools.”

Harrison had previously apologized to the Muslim community for sharing the video, but has yet to publicly apologize for the additional posts that prompted the council’s censure.

“I am not xenophobic. I am not a bigot. I am not a racist,” Harrison said at the Feb. 18 meeting before announcing he would not resign. “What I am is someone who was elected to do a job for everyone in Plano.”

Harrison abstained from Monday’s vote, which City Attorney Paige Mims said the council was obligated by the city’s governing documents to approve in light of the successful petition. Councilman Anthony Ricciardelli also abstained after asking unsuccessfully to delay the decision until after Harrison is given a public hearing to defend himself.

Harrison said during the meeting that he wishes to speak in his own defense at the April 23 council meeting, an opportunity the city charter affords to public officials that are subject to the recall process.

The decision to call the election was reached over the objections of Allan Samara, a spokesman for Harrison during the recall process, who argued the city’s ordinances governing recall elections require Harrison to be given a chance to defend himself publicly before a recall election can be scheduled.

“Any attempt to short-circuit the clearly enumerated procedures outlined in the ordinances will most assuredly expose this activity as an extra-legal, strong-armed, forced activity reflecting poorly on the sitting city power structure,” Samara wrote before the meeting in a statement to the council that was also shared with members of the local news media.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Allan Samara’s interpretation of the city’s ordinance pertaining to recall elections. Samara argued Harrison was entitled to defend himself before a recall election is scheduled, not before it is held.

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  1. The hypocracy of our mayor is outragous. How he can dismiss a recall petition regarding the bathroom ordinance which they made in secret and forced on the citizens of Plano, but tries to say they have to accept this petition. Yeah, right. He is accepting it because he is a democrat and the recall is against a republican. He doesn’t care what the citizens say or he would have taken the petition a few years ago seriously but instead he mocked those that had concerns about protecting a woman’s right to privacy in the restroom. Really sick of the lefts double standards.

    • That petition was dismissed because the collectors of the signatures knowingly misled citizens on what the ordinance actually involved. They also provided false information for signatures. It does not appear anything of the sort happened here.

      And as for this whole “democrat versus republican” thing. If being Republican means that you support racist, Islamophobic, truly bigoted actions by your representatives, it’s probably a very good thing there’s a recall election that will take place.

      Finally, as a woman, it is disgusting that you are trying to equate an LGBT ordinance that says we, as a city and community, accept all individuals no matter their sexual orientation to somehow feeling unsafe in the bathroom. The usual story about scary individuals in a bathroom is old white Republican men who are tippity, tapping their shoes.

      • Not true Sara but you can keep telling yourself that if it makes you feel better. I am not a old white republican man with tippity, tapping shoes. I am a biological female, a wife, and a mom and I don’t want to use the bathroom with any man regardless of how he feels or how he might identify himself on any particular day. I also don’t want my children to be exposed to an unsafe situation like that. You can keep your leftist name calling and propaganda to yourself. I really don’t care what you think or find disgusting. What is disgusting are the lies, name calling, and smears that the left so often uses since they have no ability to present a coherent argument for their positions. Just look at your reply above. So I guess people that don’t want to go to the bathroom with those of the opposite sex are not “accepting of all individuals”, give me a break! Really tired of the demonization and hypocrisy of the left. You accuse me of not being accepting of all individuals while at the same time you demean “old white Republican men”. Your just as hypocritical as our mayor! And for the record, Islam is NOT a race, it is an ideology so you can put your race card back in your pocket, although I doubt it stays there long.

        • You realize you didn’t actually refute a single point I made, right? You went straight to emotional city and started quoting all the things you are that make you qualified to speak to the LGBT ordinance. I am a mother, biological female, a WIFE (how does this make you qualified for anything? You married someone? Congratulations.), and I don’t really give a hoot about who is peeing next to me in a bathroom.

          The “old white Republican men” isn’t demeaning, it’s the truth. Although I guess if you see it as demeaning…that might be telling to how you view old white Republican men. That is who is routinely found to be committing acts that are the ones you are convinced transgender people will do in a bathroom.

          I’m sorry you live in the world you do. To clarify, I accused Harrison of having Islamophobia AND a racist because he also shared RACIST items on his FB page beyond the Islam post. Perhaps you should stop blindly following a politician because it gives you the ickies to imagine having to pee next to someone who doesn’t fit your ideology of what belongs in the bathroom stall next to you.

    • The council has limited power and certainly cannot dismiss a petition…The City Secretary confirms the validity of petitions. If anyone argues the council dismissed a petition, they lack a fundamental understanding of government and invalidate their entire argument.

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Daniel Houston
Daniel Houston covers Plano city government, transportation, business and education for Community Impact Newspaper. A Fort Worth native and Baylor University graduate, Daniel reported previously for The Dallas Morning News and The Associated Press in Oklahoma City.
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