Sorry for racist comments, says new Detroit EM appointee

Bonsall_smJim Bonsall was hailed as a hard-nosed restructuring expert when Detroit’s Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr appointed him in July to the job of chief financial officer.

Now some employees are accusing Bonsall, who is white, of making offensive remarks about black people.

Most recently, an employee said Bonsall asked if he could “shoot someone in a hoodie” during Angel’s Night – an apparent reference to Trayvon Martin, whose death underscored the dangers of negative racial stereotypes.

“I apologize and am sorry for having offended coworkers over comments I made during a recent meeting,” Bonsall said in a statement released by the emergency manager’s office. “Regardless of the outcome of the internal investigation or whether I keep my job as a result of it, it was never my intention to offend anyone.”

Orr said he will decide whether to discipline Bonsall after the Human Resources Department completes its investigation.

“Those findings and recommendations will determine whether and what disciplinary actions are warranted against Mr. Bonsall,” Orr spokesman Bill Nowling said today.

Bonsall earns $225,000 a year – $80,000 more than the mayor.

Cheryl Johnson, who is black, said she was demoted from finance director to city treasurer for blowing the whistle on the racial comments. She launched a formal complaint.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.