TRAVERSE CITY — Fife Lake Village council members were immersed in a discussion of citizens’ complaints about the Bay Area Transportation Authority’s service in Fife Lake when Grand Traverse County Commissioner Charlie Renny decided to interrupt.
“It was council discussion, and it was an agenda item, and he proceeded to call my citizens and my council names,” Fife Lake village President Lisa Leedy said of the meeting last spring.
“Whiners” was Renny’s insult of choice, Leedy said, and she called Renny out-of-order for his remarks.
The incident didn’t end there. After the meeting, Renny wheeled around the council table for an “up-close” discussion with Leedy about the earlier exchange, she said.
“My perception was, that was threatening,” Leedy said. “Whether that was his intention or not, I’m not sure.”
That confrontation is among a handful of similar instances involving Renny since he took office in 2013, said other local public officials, who contend he crossed a line with aggressive and inappropriate behavior spawned by disagreements.
Renny downplayed the severity of each instance and characterized them as “heated disagreements” from “contentious issues and contentious times.”
“Obviously, folks think I come on a little strong, and that’s obviously something I would not try to do to anybody,” Renny said. “I work on it everyday.”
Renny said he did not refer to anyone as “whiners” during the Fife Lake council meeting.
“I said, ‘whining about this will not help. Let’s try to have some positive input on this,’” Renny said.
He also denied his comment to Leedy following the meeting could be perceived as threatening. Renny said he was trying to apologize.
Renny, who joined the Grand Traverse County board following an unopposed election in 2012, said he works hard as a commissioner, and his constituents know what he does.