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New Buffalo’s Anti-Airbnb Mayor Is Warned, Cut The Cracks About Illinois People

Southwest Michigan beach town a popular getaway for Chicago area residents

John Humphrey is the mayor of New Buffalo, a southwest Michigan lakefront community 35 miles from Chicago. He is outspokenly opposed to local homeowners using Airbnb-type services to rent out their homes to vacationers, many of whom visit from Illinois.

Humphrey may have used a common slur to describe people from Illinois, including those who own second homes in New Buffalo, which some also rent out on a short-term basis.

Humphrey’s objectionable remarks appeared in text messages exchanged with a local real estate broker, and were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. They show the mayor being told that his decisions on this issue were based on hate and not the health and safety of local residents.

Humphrey wants his city to restrict homeowners’ right to rent out their property to vacationers. He also supports a proposal requiring that they turn over to the city records containing the names, date of birth, and license plate numbers of their renters. Officials there say renters’ personal information would be protected, but they have not said how.

Humphrey has also taken to social media to report that city attorneys are keeping track of everyone who uses the state Freedom Of Information Act to obtain records from the city. As previously reported, the mayor has warned property owners who contemplate challenging his favored policies not to press too hard.

In a string of text messages between Humphrey and Dan Coffey, a local real estate broker, Coffey is seen advising Humphrey, “In the meantime, please refrain from the FIPs talk at your public meetings. Some friends of mine from Indiana could not believe the talk about Chicago folk. They felt like it could be used against whatever you do in court. Clear indication that your decisions are based on hatred and not safety, health, and welfare.”

FIP is an acronym for “F-----g Illinois People.” The term has been used for more than 30 years, according to a 1998 story in the Chicago Reader. The Urban Dictionary, an online dictionary of slang, defines it this way:

“Usually upper-middle-class/rich folks from Chicago who infest every bit of nice land throughout the Midwest with their big egos, personalized license plates, and undisciplined snotty children. Often confused and believe the local laws don’t apply to them. Usually they drive like they’re still in the 'city' and with total disregard of others on the road.”

Humphrey did not respond when asked if he has ever called Illinois residents FIP.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.