News Story

Mayor Has Police Remove Woman From Public Meeting For Criticizing Him

Short-term rentals generate heat in New Buffalo

A debate over a recently enacted ban on some short-term housing rentals is roiling New Buffalo, a town on Lake Michigan. The issue came to a head last year at an Oct. 4 city council meeting.

Laura Murray is a homeowner who spoke against the ban at that meeting. She says she was kicked out at the order of Mayor John Humphrey after mentioning him in her comments.

A report on the meeting by local law enforcement officials does not match what is seen on a video of the event.

The video shows Murray reading from a written statement. When she mentions Humphrey, he gavels her down and says she is not allowed to mention him by name. Murray continues with her public comment, mentioning “the mayor.” Humphrey tells a police officer in attendance to remove Murray from the meeting, saying she is out of order for challenging him.

Murray appears even-toned in her comments, with a minor inflection at times. She leaves without incident when approached by the officer. Murray does raise her voice slightly as she continues to read her statement while walking out.

The police report characterized Murray as engaging in disorderly conduct and yelling.

Michigan Capitol Confidential obtained a copy of the report, written by officer Nathanial Voytovick, under a Freedom of Information Act request. The report has one section labeled “disorderly conduct.” That part of the report says Murray began “raising her voice” and singled out members of the city council. It says she “continued yelling and speaking in a loud tone” until the mayor ordered her removal lest she “continue to create disturbances.”

The report says Voytovick was assisted by Sergeant Russell Tillery and Police Chief Richard Killips. It adds that Murray left the building on her own but she “continued yelling” as she did so.

Humphrey and the New Buffalo City Police Department did not respond to emailed requests for comment.

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.