LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)– Appalling, inappropriate, and disgusting are just a few of the words people used during the public comment portion of Monday night’s Lansing City Council meeting to describe text messages sent by Council Member Brandon Betz last week.
The messages were exchanged between Betz and the new co-lead of Lansing’s Black Lives Matter Chapter, Michael Lynn, Jr.
In the messages, Betz called Lynn derogatory names and when Lynn asked him to talk in person, Betz wrote, “Gonna bring your gun or just your fists?”
More than a dozen people weighed in during Monday night’s city council meeting, with several calling for the council to request and accept Betz’s resignation. BLM Lansing is calling for the same.
The council voted unanimously on a resolution to censure Council Member Betz, which does not carry a fine or suspension of his rights as an elected official, but serves as a punishment for wrongdoing.
The council does not have the legal ability to remove Betz from his position, but wording in the resolution strongly suggests he consider resigning.
“He has lost the ability to effectively represent his constituents and that’s unfortunate. I don’t say that lightly but that’s unfortunate,” said At-Large Council Member Patricia Spitzley during the meeting.
“I was sickened by what I read,” said At-Large Council Member Carol Wood.
According to Wood, Betz did send an apology email, but she went on to say that what concerned her was the fact that the exchange happened Tuesday night and it took him until Sunday to realize he’d done something wrong, and apologize.
Lansing Mayor Andy Schor responded to the situation, speaking both during the council meeting and writing in a social media post:
“Several people have asked my thoughts on a situation that occurred last week between Councilman Betz and a resident. City Council is a separate and equal branch of government, so I don’t usually get involved in commenting on these situations. However, I want to acknowledge that the language used by the council member in the conversation that was made public was inappropriate and, frankly, appalling. As elected leaders, we should always rise above name-calling and try to find ways to work together respectfully, even when we disagree. I condemn the language and actions taken in this situation.”– Lansing Mayor Andy Schor
“We really are and should be held to a higher standard. We have to be able to be held accountable to whatever and to be able to take criticism and not lash out,” Spitzley said.