Local Official’s Ethics Complaint Falls Flat

Plano Council Chambers
Plano Council Chambers | Image by City of Plano/Twitter

Three days after Plano Planning & Zoning Commission member Bill Lisle filed a complaint against several city officials, alleging misconduct related to his opposition to a zoning case, the grievance was dismissed.

“Bill Lisle filed complaints against several staff and council members,” City Attorney Paige Mims said in an email. “An independent ethics investigator performed a review of the claims. He prepared the attached report indicating that Commissioner Lisle’s complaints failed to allege conduct prohibited by the City’s ethics code. The unimplicated council members met with the investigator to hear the report last Friday and, subsequently, voted to release the report and reject the complaints.”

On March 26, Lisle submitted a six-page document to the city attorney’s office detailing what he claimed was an effort by Mims, City Manager Mark Israelson, Plano City Council Member Rick Horne, Mayor John B. Muns, Mayor Pro Tem Kayci Prince, Deputy City Manager Jack Carr, Deputy City Manager Michelle D’Andrea, and Planning & Zoning Commission Chair David Downs to force his resignation from the commission after he publicly voiced concerns over a then-two-year-old site plan for a Home Depot tool-rental center.

“They added a tool rental center for the Home Depot site plan [in 2021],” Lisle told The Dallas Express. “We have adjacency standards in the City of Plano. When you add that use … to a site plan, residential adjacency standards apply to it because you don’t want to put this thing right next to a residential neighborhood.”

The Home Depot in question was on North Central Expressway near the Douglass community. Lisle said operating a tool center sometimes requires turning machines on and off, which would create noise pollution for residents in Douglass. It was one of the reasons Plano’s residential adjacency standards were created, Lisle said.

“[Planning and development] restrictions on that site said you cannot expand the building and add open storage. Instead of applying [that] to the entire use like the zoning ordinance said you have to do, they drew a line out for the tool rental stored outside. But that’s literally 30 feet away from people’s homes. But that is secondary [to] what I’m bringing to you,” he said.

Lisle, who was first nominated to the commission in  2022, addressed his concerns about the Home Depot site with city officials. He said that in August 2022, about 11 months after Plano City Council members approved the site plan, he met with Israelson and Carr and asserted that the site plan was “illegal.”

The following month, in a subsequent meeting with director of planning Christina Day and Lori Schwarz of the city’s neighborhood services division, Day allegedly said, “Technically, you are correct, Bill.”

However, it appears that nothing was done about the issues raised by Lisle. City council members appointed him to a second term last year.

“I kept asking staff about this issue, and last September [2023], I went public with my concerns,” Lisle said.

“So, the city council appointed me to a second full term, and a couple of weeks later, I bring this up again. Then, I was approached by a city council member [who said] he had talked to six officials in the City of Plano asking me to [tender] my resignation two days later,” he alleged.

Horne led that effort, Lisle told DX.

“On October 11, I had a follow-up meeting with Horne. He said, ‘I’m going to come clean. I left a meeting with the mayor … and they were looking to remove you. The Home Depot situation is part of why they wanted you gone.'”

Horne did not respond to DX‘s request for comment.

“This is more of a whistleblower issue than a site plan issue,” Lisle said. “The same people who nominated me in August 2022 [for Planning & Zoning Commission] sought my removal 22 days after I went public [in 2023] with staff doing something I thought was wrong. Their excuses are that I own land in the general vicinity of downtown and they know how much I love downtown, and that some of that land is going to need to be bought at some point.”

Citing violations of city ordinances, Lisle further alleges in the complaint that:

  • Horne “participated in conduct that was not impartial or in the best interest of the city.”
  • Five council members, including Muns, violated the Texas Open Meetings Act by privately discussing Lisle’s removal from the Planning & Zoning Commission.
  • Horne tried to “thwart the execution of the city ordinances” and “reflects discredit upon the government.”

The city manager’s office did not respond to a message seeking comment. But Mims provided DX with a copy of a 17-page report written by outside counsel Nichols Jackson attorney Peter Smith, referred to in Mims’ email as an “independent ethics investigator,” which assessed Lisle’s complaint and ultimately dismissed his accusations.

“Based on our review of the contents of the Complaints, including the statements made by Complainant, the sections of the City Charter, Code of Conduct, and state law that Complainant alleges were violated, as well as other applicable provisions of the Code of Conduct, we find that the Complaints either fail to include sufficient facts to support a violation of the Code of Conduct and/or fail to identify acts that constitute a violation of the Code of Conduct,” reads the summation and recommendations section of the report. “Consequently, we recommend the Complaints be rejected and that no further investigation be authorized.”

Plano City Council members met in executive session during a special meeting on March 29 to discuss Smith’s report, ultimately deciding to dismiss the complaint, city documents show. More than a week later, Lisle told DX he had not yet seen the report in full.

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