GT Board disagrees over censure, doesn't punish commissioner who pulled gun in virtual meeting

Feb 3, 2021

Credit Grand Traverse County

The Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners didn't punish Board Vice Chair Ron Clous Wednesday for pulling out a gun during a constituent's comments last month.

The constituent was asking the board to condemn the Proud Boys, a far-right group with a history of violence, who had attended a prior meeting.

Wednesday the county board considered a resolution of censure for Clous, but disagreements over what the move would have meant ultimately led to a split vote, effectively killing it.

"Somebody had mentioned  [...] censure is a form of the commission apologizing for some actions. I for one do not believe in apologizing myself for someone else's actions," commissioner Brad Jewett said, adding that he believes Clous did nothing illegal.

Commission Chair Rob Hentschel (R), who's been critized for laughing while Clous held his gun, and Commissioners Penny Morris (R) and Jewett (R) voted against the resolution of censure. Commissioners Betsy Coffia (D), Bryce Hundley (D) and Daryl Nelson (R), who introduced the resolution, voted for it. Clous (R) abstained.

"We must acknowledge what happened on January 20," Nelson said before voting. "The time for dodging this issue is over."

Newly-elected Republican Commissioner Penny Morris said Clous had already been punished by the public during hours of public comment in previous meetings.

"I believe the public already censured them," she said.

The body did approve updated language to their public comment policy. After Board Chair Rob Hentschel was criticized for laughing while Clous held the gun, the board now prohibits members from responding to public comments.

The meeting opened and closed with more constituent comments criticizing the board's inaction, but several people called in to defend Clous.