Doug Luciani, president and CEO of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce, said Schmidt may have taken it upon himself to make a call to the DEQ.
“He’s around and knows what’s going on in the community ... and your representatives are supposed to advocate for you,” Luciani said.
Luciani said chamber officials offered to make calls to the DEQ to help expedite the permit process, but city staff declined.
“They didn’t think it was necessary,” Luciani said.
DEQ spokesman Brad Wurfel said Schmidt contacted that agency’s legislative office and asked if there was anything they could do to help the city. Such inquiries from elected officials are common and appropriate, Wurfel said.
“That is not the same as someone exerting political pressure. I’ve seen political pressure,” Wurfel said.
State Sen. Howard Walker of Peninsula Township said no one asked him to contact the DEQ, nor did he make any such calls.
“I don’t get too involved in local issues,” Walker said. “It seems to work out better that way.”