UPDATE: City council meeting postponed following disturbance, unsubstantiated bomb threat

Screen during a Plano City Council recess following a disturbance from an audience member.
At the Dec. 11 Plano City Council meeting, a recess was extended until Dec. 12 at 4:30 p.m. due to an alleged bomb threat that has since been refuted.

UPDATE 12/12/23 11:10 A.M.: The City of Plano released a statement clarifying the incident. According to the media advisory, as attendees were leaving the meeting for the recess an unattended bag was reported and Plano PD evacuated and dispatched the Hazardous Device Unit as a precautionary measure. “At no time was the public in danger,” the advisory said.

During the Dec. 11 Plano City Council meeting, recess was extended until the following day, Dec. 11 at 4:30 p.m. after a woman was denied comment due to time constraints engaged in a verbal altercation with Mayor John Muns. Video of the incident cuts off during the recess is called. So what happened?

The Meeting

The meeting started off no different from any other with a perfect attendance from council and a private executive meeting to discuss legal advice on agenda items, the Collin Creek Mall project and the topic of impending STR litigation as well as potential litigation regarding the fire training facility. The preliminary open meeting convened with a presentation by Plano Director of Policy and Government Relations Andrew Fortune.

Fortune presented on potential tax tools to incentivize the creation of a Plano Event Center Hotel, a project that has been proposed in council since the ’90s, Fortune said. Fortune proposed hiring a lobbyist to work with Texas state legislators to pass legislation authorizing Plano to utilize the tax rebate. Fortune also reported that if the council approved the request, the hotel could open as early as Spring 2026.

“[The lobbyist] helped write the actual statute to create the tool. Every subsequent session there have been changes to narrow the tool, to tweak it, to change it and he’s been involved in all those conversations,” Fortune said. “So he does have the benefit that when he walks into the room and discusses this legislation, both sides of the aisle and all the state agencies know who he is and that he is working on a legitimate project for a city that truly that truly needs to move forward in a responsible manner … he would be working under my direction to ensure that the meetings that are had to move this bill forward stay on task.”

The presentation concluded 17 minutes into the open meeting, followed by a call to remove items from the consent and regular agenda, in which District 2 Council member Anthony Ricciardelli struck items D and H.

Item D discussed the approval of an expenditure for advertising agency services for Visit Plano. Item H discussed the approval of an agreement to authorize an economic development grant for A&M Peak LTC as an economic development incentive.

Mayor John Muns called the meeting for a 12 minute recess and then allowed Cub Scout Pack 112, who was in attendance to lead the Pledge of Allegiance and Texas Pledge, to come forward to ask the council questions.

The council returned with an invocation, pledges led by area Cub Scouts, a performance of Christmas carols by Legacy of Harmony, a Plano-based mixed barbershop chorus. Then, Muns awarded a medal to Plano Parks and Recreation for their achievement on Oct. 11 winning the 2023 Gold Medal for Excellence by the National Recreation and Parks Association, a five-time achievement for the department. 

After swearing in Efrain Girardot to the senior advisory board, the council noted a large number of speakers, and limited speakers’ ability to one minute to attempt to accommodate each speaker within the allotted half hour. 

What were so many speakers there for?

The speakers started with Saba Saiyed, a Plano mom and member of the Plano ISD Diversity Board Citizen Advisory Committee. Saiyed urged council to call for a cease fire in Gaza, where the Israeli-Hamas war has been widely criticized in international media for the thousands of deaths that have occurred since Oct. 7. 

“I’m here as part of the Asian American community to stand in solidarity with the people in Gaza to call for an immediate cease fire,” another Plano resident said in the meeting. “The Asian American community knows the pain of foreign policy influencing domestic policy … the community is in danger across the United States. And these are American people, so if the rhetoric is so inflammatory against Palestinians, demonizing those people then it is very hard for the whole community to maintain their safety and that includes the citizens of Plano.”

After many speakers had gone through their time, a person not affiliated with the group that did not sign up to speak, one group organizer said, began yelling to the mayor.

“I apologize, but we can’t keep going. This is comments of public interest,;we have a time [limit],” Muns said in response to the woman, who began shouting from across the room. “First of all, I want to thank everyone who spoke this evening on the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. The priority of the City of Plano continues to be keeping all of our residents safe.”

Muns was interrupted by the unnamed woman, who continued yelling to the council, calling for a cease fire. Muns called for a recess, and the meeting never continued. 

What happened?

The City of Plano posted hours later, shortly after 9 p.m., on social media and the council’s website that the recess would continue until the following day, Dec. 12 at 4:30 p.m. When speakers and audience members left for a recess, a backpack was left in the room. Plano PD evacuated and dispatched the Hazardous Device Unit as a “precautionary measure.” “At no time was the public in danger,” a media advisory posted the on Dec. 12  said.

At tomorrow’s meeting, council will deliberate on items for individual consideration, including modifying development standards in the Collin Creek redevelopment area, granting a specific use permit (SUP) for Tattooing and Permanent Cosmetics at the southeast corner of Highway 75 and Parker Road, authorizing $368,431 for Habitat for Humanity of Collin County in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds for the acquisition, rehabilitation, and resale of single-family homes for low to moderate-income households, reviewing the Consolidated Annual Performance Evaluation Report and granting $10,102,511 for Fire Station 5 Renovation.

According to the Notice of Continued Meeting posted on the city council website, the meeting will “continue with the consent agenda items and items for individual consideration, including hearing items originally posted December 6, 2023.”

EDIT: A Community Impact article was cited in an earlier version of this story alleging a bomb threat. As the public was never in any danger and there was no bomb or threat, according to Plano PD and the City of Plano, the paragraph has been removed to ensure clarity. The article has also been edited from an earlier version that falsely associated the woman that caused the disturbance with the other speakers, who were part of the Islamic Circle of North America’s Social Justice Chapter. An update on the group and their resolution is to come. 

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