Ann Arbor residents and City Council members are raising concerns over some past tweets from recently elected Councilmember Jeff Hayner, D-Ward 1, including inflammatory comments directed at sitting councilmembers and electoral opponents.
Ann Arbor resident Chris Dzombak created a database with close to 7,000 tweets allegedly written by Hayner. The tweets date back to March 6, 2014. Hayner, defeated independent opponent Ryan Hughes, a Democratic Socialist, with amore than 70 percent of the vote. Hayner ran a campaign focused primarily on environmental issues such as the dioxane plume.
Hayner declined to comment on the matter.
“I don’t have a Twitter,” Hayner wrote in an email statement. “You must have received some bad info. Not interested.”
Hayner admitted in interviews with MLive other tweets he’s made in the past were in poor taste. An article from July noted Hayner made his account private, though Hayner’s account has since been deleted.According to a public complaint filed with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a complainant with the name Hayner states “This individual has stolen and exposed all of the Tweets in my protected Twitter account."
In one tweet regarding a past Michigan Daily article about the April 2017 sale of the Library Lot, Hayner called Councilmember Julie Grand, D-Ward 3, a “hive queen” and added the hashtag #RBF, which some Twitter users suspect stands for “resting bitch face.”
“Best coverage of #a2council often found in alt news sources,” the tweet read. “Don't miss this w/accurate quote from condescending Hive Queen Grand #RBF.”
Dzombak said these tweets may negatively impact the dynamics of the council now that Hayner is a member.
“In some of these tweets, he was very critical of councilmembers … I think it’s an uphill battle,” Dzombak said. “It seems like he’s burned a lot of bridges before he even got on council.”
Grand declined to comment on Hayner’s tweets.
A Digital Millennium Copyright Act request was filed on Aug. 1 that briefly shut the database down. DMCA requests address the takedown of online material due to copyright infringement. Dzombak does not know if Hayner submitted the request himself.
Dzombak said Hayner accused him of hacking his Twitter account when it was private.
“These were public tweets when I archived them,” Dzombak said. “Claiming that I did any sort of illegal hacking is blatantly false.”
Dzombak said Hayner made many tweets that did not align with emocratic values.
“In the last four years or so, he’s made a bunch of comments on Twitter on things like SJWs (social justice warriors), snowflakes, Milo Yiannopoulos, that are not consistent with a progressive democratic agenda,” Dzombak said. “It seemed really dishonest that he was running as a Democrat here.”
One of Hayner’s tweets mentioning “snowflakes” detailed colleges handing out pins with gender pronouns on them.
“College hands out ‘pronoun pins’ #Triggered by this, does exclusion help people #coexist? #snowFLAKES,” Hayner tweeted.
A tweet also mention Ryan Hughes, Hayner’s opponent during the 2018 City Council election, regarding Hughes’ yearly income and Hughes’ support for an income tax.
“Ryan Hughes is making $90K/year at U of M, and telling me I need to pay an income tax to support people who need affordable housing,” Hayner allegedly wrote. “Charity starts at home.”
Hughes said affordable housing should not be up to charity.
“I don’t think charity is the issue here,” Hughes said. “I don’t think affordable housing should be a matter of individual choosing whether or not to pay to a charitable foundation.”
Hughes said Hayner may not have intended to offend residents, but his comments still hurt people.
“Impact isn’t the same thing as intent,” Hughes said. “Even if you mean well, you might hurt people.”
Regardless, Hughes is optimistic about Hayner’s future work on City Council.
“I think he’s toned down criticism of these people,” Hughes said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how he’s going to actually be.”
Editor's note: this article has been updated to include records of a digital complaint made by Hayner about the tweets database.