The team that screwed up the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance recall has proven to be equally incompetent in Plano. The “county of residence” requirement was omitted from the Plano petitions, which invalidated all of the signatures on it.
In Houston, fewer than 4,000 signatures on petitions to overturn that city’s newly-enacted equal rights ordinance were valid out of more than 50,000 turned in. In Plano, none of the signatures were valid because that requirement was omitted.
Plano spokesman Steve Stoler wrote in a press release this morning (Friday, Feb. 20), that the city of Plano has determined that the recently circulated petition is invalid and will not move forward. Plano’s city secretary was unable to certify the petition because it failed to meet state and local requirements for validation.
On Dec. 8, 2014, the Plano City Council approved an Equal Rights Ordinance, expanding the city’s policy to prohibit discrimination against the following classes: U.S. military/veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation and gender identity. The petition called for the city to either repeal that ordinance or submit it to the citizens for a vote.
The petition contained false information regarding the Equal Rights Ordinance, claiming it regulates bathrooms. The ordinance does not regulate bathrooms. By making this false representation, the Equal Rights petition asked signees to repeal an ordinance that does not exist.
Texas Election Code requires petitions submitted in cities located in two counties to include a column for the signee’s county of voter registration. Since Plano is in two counties, that column was mandatory. However, none of the petition pages included it.
The Plano City Charter requires petitions to include a copy of the legislation sought to be repealed or changed. The Equal Rights petition did not include an attachment of the ordinance.
On Dec. 30, three weeks prior to the deadline for the Equal Rights petition to be turned in, the city of Plano sent an email to the groups organizing the petition drive, including Texas Values, the U.S. Pastor Council and Plano Citizens United, to clarify information. It outlined problematic issues with the petition, including those aforementioned. The email read, ‘The city is providing information in an attempt to facilitate accuracy in referendum petitions to avoid any potential disputes regarding validity of signatures.’ Links were provided to the city of Plano Charter, Texas Election Code and petition information on the Secretary of State website. The city made a good faith attempt to avoid dispute and facilitate accuracy.
Nonetheless, not a single page of submitted petitions was valid.