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WEDNESDAY, Dec. 11 — Local conservative talk show host Tim Barron will no longer be able to serve on a volunteer advisory board after some Lansing City Council members moved to block his reappointment.
Officials said Barron, who hosted shows on several radio stations in his career before going online, will soon be replaced on the Community Corrections Advisory Board, a body jointly appointed and operated by both the Lansing City Council and the Ingham County Board of Commissioners.
“There were some outstanding concerns about Tim’s past comments and actions,” explained Lansing City Councilwoman Patricia Spitzley. “We were just looking to go in a different direction and wanted someone else to be appointed instead. Multiple Council members had asked us not to support his reappointment and we didn’t.”
Spitzley declined to elaborate on the concerns that ultimately killed Barron’s reappointment. Instead, she pointed to a controversial Facebook post where Barron appeared to excuse the still-unsolved murder of Michael Smith, 22, a black man from the Lansing who was shot to death in 2015.
After the news broke, Barron shared a photograph of Smith with a water bong, noting that “horrible choices result in horrible consequences.” He labeled Smith, given his alleged involvement with drugs, a “volunteer” rather than a victim after the incident. And the blowback was fierce. Community activists slammed Barron for his comments.
“Barron used typical ‘blame the victim’ rhetoric using no more evidence than a photograph as ‘proof’ that we should forgo justice because he thinks the victim was criminal,” according to a dated Progress Michigan release. “This type of racial bias has plagued prominent national stories regarding shooting deaths of young black men.”
Progress Michigan also demanded an apology from Barron, which it said never arrived.
“There is a history of him perhaps not using the best judgment, particularly as it relates to the area in which this particular board has oversight,” said Council Vice President Peter Spadafore. “Certainly, I believe folks can change, but we also have an opportunity to put someone there who can bring a more positive voice to the table.”
Barron — who has served on the advisory board since 2011 — left WLMI-FM in 2015 to launch his own online start-up at TimBarronsMichiganRadio.com. He said he still works in advertising and maintains a casual online radio presence. And he still remains perplexed about the reasoning behind pulling him off the board, he said.
“After several years of service on that board, everything was going very well,” Barron said. “I think I’ve been participating and doing a good job. I think it’s fair to say this was some reaction to me personally and it’s unfortunate that the City Council committee decided to go in that direction. I just don’t understand it.”
Members of the Community Corrections Advisory Board are jointly appointed by both Ingham County and the city of Lansing for six-year terms. The group helps develop goals, criteria and guidelines for local community corrections planning and helps find alternatives to incarceration for local residents sentenced to county jail.
Barron was recommended for reappointment by county officials, but the process stalled last month at Lansing City Council’s Public Safety Committee, whose members are Spitzley, Adam Hussain and Carol Wood. Wood and Hussain couldn’t be reached to comment for this story.
Bryan Crenshaw, chairman of the Ingham County Board of Commissioners, said officials had planned to confirm Barron’s appointment Tuesday but are now scouting around for another appointee to fill his spot on the board. That person will also eventually need to be confirmed by the Lansing City Council.
“I do know that in the past there have been some concerns about statements and actions he made in public that were disparaging to individuals and other groups,” Crenshaw added. “I hadn’t heard anything bad about his ability to serve on the board. We were actually OK with his reappointment, but the City Council has spoken.”
Barron also serves on the board of the Lansing Entertainment and Public Facilities Authority in an apointment made by former Mayor Virg Bernero. His current term on that board expires on June 30, 2020.
“I’m surprised, but I think I’ll be OK,” Barron added. “I’m good. I will live.”