Reporting Vickie Thomas
DETROIT (WWJ) - An effort is underway to remove the state-appointed emergency manager in Detroit after he made some controversial comments about the people he’s trying to help.
A petition drive, which kicked off this week, calls on Kevyn Orr to step down over his comments describing Detroiters as “dumb, lazy, happy and rich.” Orr made the statement in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal.
Weeks after he made the remarks, Orr did issue an apology.
“I would say – very clearly to the people of Detroit – I apologize,” Orr said. “That was a slip of the tongue. I was being dumb. I’ve since come to realize it’s a distraction.”
Detroit NAACP President Wendell Anthony said despite Orr’s apology, the petition drive is still on.
“RespectForDetroit.com. You can sign the petition online, condemning the remarks, calling for an apology, and asking him to step down,” Anthony said.
The petition says those that sign “will not be insulted and demeaned by the self-proclaimed ‘benevolent dictator,’” referring to Orr. But Anthony said he’s also pointing the finger at Gov. Rick Snyder.
“[Snyder] is responsible. He is the one that put Detroit and the surrounding communities in this position after 2.3 million Michiganders said no, they did not want this process, lest we forget. And so what we have is a situation where now, chickens are coming home to roost in terms of how can you represent me if you don’t really respect me,” Anthony said.
Orr’s spokesman, Bill Nowling said the EM’s comment needs to be taken in the context Orr intended.
“I believe Kevyn Orr was speaking about the attitude of the body politic of the city of Detroit, not Detroiters themselves,” he said.
The full context of Orr’s comment is as follows:
“For a long time the city was dumb, lazy, happy and rich … Detroit has been the center of more change in the 20th century than I dare say virtually any other city, but that wealth allowed us to have a covenant [that held] if you had an eighth grade education, you’ll get 30 years of a good job and a pension and great health care, but you don’t have to worry about what’s going to come.”