Spring Lake manager apologizes for Facebook post

Ottawa County

SPRING LAKE, Mich. (WOOD) — The creator of a Facebook page making fun of Spring Lake says he doesn’t buy an apology by Village Manager Christine Burns for using a derogatory term in a post on her own page.

Lee Painter created the satire page and used it to poke fun at the village and its neighbors. Burns told 24 Hour News 8 last week that people assumed the page was official and that it damaged the village’s reputation.

A post on Burns’ personal Facebook page, indirectly aimed at Painter, used the derogatory term “window-licker” — which mocks people with mental disabilities — and called him a “booger-eating 37-year-old who lives in his parents’ basement.”

“How would you feel if you were a special needs person? You’d feel really demeaned,” Painter said Monday. “It’s just unacceptable and unbelievable that a public official would be saying these things. But yet she did and she doesn’t deny doing so.”

Burns addressed the village council during its Monday meeting and apologized, but Painter said that wasn’t good enough.

“I felt the apology was simply an attempt for her to cover, do damage control,” Painter said. “When I asked for an apology, she was very unapologetic about it and was willing to stick by her comments and was even laughing at me so I don’t think she’s really sincere.”

Village President Mark Powers, who spoke to 24 Hour News 8 on Burns’ behalf after the meeting, said that while he doesn’t condone Burns’ comments, he believes Burns did not know the impact of the phrase she chose.

“I never say that feelings don’t matter, they do. So I don’t diminish anybody’s sense of pain or outrage here,” Powers said. “I would simply ask that they move past it and recognize that we are a small town and we will see each other and we do kind of have to keep cooperating on the things that are important to us.”

But to Painter, this is important and it’s not something he’s willing to forgive so quickly.

“They’re kind of wishing it would just blow over and go away. But I’m not going to let them do that,” Painter said. “I have a powerful social media tool at my disposal and I will continue to call for her accountability.”

Powers believes the matter is private now and the village will no longer be involved.

“I think these two can address each other on their own in private and issue amongst the two of them whatever apologies they feel is appropriate,” Powers said. “Certainly we wouldn’t get involved in that.”

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