Officials hold special meeting after vice chair flashes gun


After a Grand Traverse County commissioner flashed a rifle during a live streamed meeting last week, commissioners came together Thursday to address the situation in a special meeting. 

The meeting, riddled with technical difficulties and a smattering of “Zoom bombers,” lasted over five hours with public comments filling up the majority of the meeting’s time. 

Many of the commenters spoke about their dissatisfaction with Vice Chair Ron Clous’ actions at a previous meeting.

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During a Jan. 20 meeting, Clous flashed a rifle in front of his webcam, while Rob Hentschel, commission chair, can be seen laughing. Clous showed the gun while an East Bay Township woman spoke about her concerns with northern Michigan gun culture and some board members’ attitude toward Proud Boys.

During the special Thursday meeting, many residents asked for Clous and Hentschel to resign from their positions. Residents also criticized the commissioners’ proposed resolution for the meeting, which aimed to address Clous’ gun situation. 

The meeting’s resolution states the board of commissioners will “maintain the same etiquette and professional behavior while in video conference meetings as they would in traditional boardroom meetings.” 

The resolution also said while Clous’ actions were “well-intentioned, this display disturbed many members of our community and incited numerous community discussions on the appropriateness of such a display and many questioned the motivations of Vice-chairman Clous.” 

Kate Dahlstrom was one out of many residents who didn’t agree with the resolution.

According to the Traverse City Ticker, Dahlstrom also spoke during the infamous Jan. 20 meeting where she questioned the board about Proud Boys. She also asked the board to rethink their vote on being a Second Amendment “sanctuary.” 

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“This resolution of redress is not acceptable,” Dahlstrom said. “There have been multiple violations of the code of ethics that require much more action than this. Before I get into the code of ethics, I want to set the record straight. I did not call commissioner Hentschel racist at the January 20 meeting. I had asked all commissioners to confirm they were not members of any hate or extremist group.” 

There were a few supporters of Clous and Hentschel among the virtual crowd. However, the board of commissioners ended up pulling the resolution of redress from the agenda.

Commissioner Betsy Coffia said she didn’t think the resolution of redress “is going to cut it,” and asked Clous and Hentschel to apologize for their actions. 

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