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Renner: 'Serious Communication Issues' To Resolve With Aldermen

Tari Renner
Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner speaks during a Bloomington City Council meeting.

Mayor Tari Renner conceded Tuesday he has “serious communication issues” to work out with the Bloomington aldermen who publicly admonished him, even as he called one of them a “bully” and said that some don’t understand the city’s form of government.

Six of nine aldermen delivered a signed letter to Renner on Monday expressing disappointment over his recent behavior, specifically how he’s lashed out at critics online and never apologized for it. They also voted unanimously to restrict spending by elected officials, a move some see as targeting Renner.

During an interview on GLT’s Sound Ideas, Renner said the six aldermen blindsided him during Monday’s meeting. The letter was released to the media, and Renner hinted that some knew about it in advance.

“The way (the letter) was given to me was not conventional,” Renner said. “Everybody in City Hall had a copy before I had a copy. It was delivered to me in aldermanic comments ensuring that there was virtually no possibility for me to respond. It’s pretty clear that it’s politically motivated.”

"It's pretty clear that it's politically motivated."

Renner stressed that despite the public acrimony, the council still did take important actions Monday night. For example, aldermen approved the members of the new police civilian advisory board, he said.

During his GLT interview, Renner singled out Ward 2 Alderman David Sage. Renner said Sage has “almost never communicated with me in over two years.” Sage spearheaded Monday’s vote on the new spending restrictions for elected officials. Sage also told The Pantagraph last week that he was “disappointed” that Renner had used his city-issued credit card while on his recent five-week leave of absence.

“That’s a problem. That breeds misunderstanding,” Renner said of the schism.

Renner said the new spending restrictions were “politically motivated,” although he ultimately did not oppose the measure. “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out” the motivations, he said.

Renner said he wants to pivot back to his policy agenda. He said some aldermen don’t fully understand Bloomington’s council-manager form of government, with an empowered mayor like Renner. He also described one unspecified alderman as a “bully," and said some don't return his phone calls. When asked about Ward 8 Diana Hauman, who signed Monday’s admonishment letter, Renner noted that she “came in last” during 2017’s mayoral primary.

“I’m not going anywhere. They’re not going anywhere. Despite the acrimony last night, we had a very productive session. We are making progress despite this lack of trust on both sides,” he said.

You can also listen to GLT's full interview with Renner:

GLT's full interview with Renner.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.