Emotions run high as council blasts Renner’s tactics in ‘welcoming city’ debate

Bloomington Council
Aldermen Karen Schmidt (right) was red faced and in tears while Mayor Tari Renner’s tactics during the contentious ‘welcoming city’ debate.  (Photo by Howard Packowitz/WJBC)      

By Howard Packowitz

BLOOMINGTON – The debate over a ‘welcoming city’ ordinance intended to protect undocumented immigrants in Bloomington may have severed any goodwill that existed between Mayor Tari Renner and aldermen reluctant to enact the resolution.

Alderman Karen Schmidt was one of five council members who sent an e-mail to the interim city manager and some members of the media asking the issue be removed from Monday night’s agenda.

Schmidt, in tears and red-faced, said she was demoralized by the flak she and her colleagues have taken.

PODCAST: Listen to Scott Laughlin’s interview with Interim City Manager Steve Rasmussen on WJBC.

“So mayor, I have to say to you that it was with enormous dismay that I heard that you said to a social justice conference at ISU that the five of us were laughing about this and popping champagne,” said Schmidt.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Schmidt added.

Questioned by Alderman David Sage, Renner said he does not remember what he said about council members at that ISU conference.

“Bullying and the name-calling that I’m told by several people has happened. So I believe it’s out there that has been enabled by some people even on this council,” said Sage.

He said that behavior was “reprehensible.”

Alderman Joni Painter shouted at Renner even though the two sat next to each other as they argued whether council members have the authority to pull agenda items.

Renner said he felt blindsided by the email, authored by Aldermen Schmidt, Sage, Painter, Mboka Mwilambwe, and Kimberly Bray.

Howard Packowitz can be reached at howard.packowitz@cumulus.com

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