Update: Detroit CFO Quits Over 'Shoot Someone In A Hoodie' Remark

October 15, 2013, 4:25 PM by  Alan Stamm

Cheryl Johnson, demoted early this month by Jim Bonsall, accused him of demeaning actions that are "more pronounced with minority women.” (LinkedIn photo)

Detroit's chief financial officer, Jim Bonsall, resigned Tuesday -- six days after the Human Resources Department began investigating a comment one colleague called racially insensitive.

Joe Guillen has details in the Free Press, which was first with the story last Thursday :

Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, who hired Bonsall this summer at an annual salary of $225,000, today accepted Bonsall’s resignation, Orr’s spokesman Bill Nowling announced on Twitter.

Orr met with Bonsall this afternoon to discuss the results of an investigation in his comments, apparently in jest, whether he’d be able to shoot anyone in a hoodie if he participated in the city’s annual Angels’ Night anti-arson patrols.

Bonsall, 60, joined Orr's team July 19 -- a day after Orr's historic bankruptcy filing. A lengthy interview in CFO magazine two months ago says's he's 'a self-described “pit bull.' "

Tuesday's departure comes a day after a Detroit press conference by the National Action Network, a social activism group whose Michigan president leader called for Bonsall's dismissal by Friday.

The Michigan Citizen quotes Rev. Charles Williams II:

“There’s no reason why someone who’s considered a public servant could make these remarks and go back to work. . . . “We expect for (Bonsall) to be a national name, if by the end of this week (he) is still working in the city of Detroit.”

Another speaker at Monday's event, attorney Jerry Goldberg of Moratorium Now, said Bonsall’s comment at a staff meeting reflects “this whole process that’s going on where people from outside, with their racist colonial mentality, are trying to take our city.”


Oct. 11 update:

Jim Bonsall, who was appointed as Detroit's chief financial officer by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, responds to an employee's public accusation of racial insensitivity.

Jim Bonsall resigned Tuesday, just a few months after being named Detroit's CFO.

In a statement released Thursday night and posted by  the Michigan Citizen site, Bonsall acknowledges he shouldn't have asked at a staff meeting if he could “shoot someone in a hoodie” on Angels’ Night:    

“I apologize and am sorry for having offended coworkers over comments I made during a recent meeting. 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.”


Oct. 11 original article:

City leaders have a new hot potato involving a Kevyn Orr appointee, Matt Helms reports in the Free Press.

Detroit officials announced late Wednesday they will investigate claims that one of emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s top appointees made racially insensitive statements on the job, demeaned black women and at one point asked, apparently in jest, if he could “shoot someone in a hoodie” during Angels’ Night.

Cheryl Johnson, who is black, was demoted from finance director to city treasurer on Oct. 3. She said in a letter addressed to Mayor Dave Bing, Orr and other top city officials that Jim Bonsall, the city’s chief financial officer whom Orr appointed in July, routinely demeans and berates employees openly during meetings.

Johnson says Bonsall's harshness "is more pronounced with minority women,” according to Helms, who has a copy of her complaint. She accuses the CFO of creating a hostile work environment and having her demoted after she spoke up.

Orr spokesman Bill Nowling tells Helms the emergency manager met with Bonsall, 60, on Wednesday afternoon.

“The emergency manager takes these allegations very seriously — they’re troubling, if true,” Nowling said. “But we have to let the process work. There will be an investigation."



Read more:  Detroit Free Press

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