Bondall controversy is part of greater EM problem

Oct 15, 2013, 9:35 am         

Bondall controversy is part of a greater EM problem


  • By Dawud Walid

The controversy about Detroit’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) reflects a greater insensitivity issue that many non-Detroiters have towards city residents.

CFO Jim Bonsall was recently suspended with pay after inquiring if he could “shoot someone in a hoodie” after being informed that city officials such as himself customarily join neighborhood patrols on Angels’ Night. Admitting to his boorish comment, Bonsall said in a written statement that “it was never my intention to offend anyone.” This incident, allegedly one in a series, is telling.

That Bonsall, who is white and a non-Detroit resident, made such comments obviously has racial overtones. That he claims he had no intention to offend only amplifies the fact that he’s completely out of touch as a public servant. The incident rings loud and clear after the homicide of Trayvon Martin, who was killed wearing a hoodie.

Moreover, that Bonsall was irked when told that there was an expectation that he take part in Angels’ Night patrols reflects the difference between officials who live in the city and those who were appointed by Governor Snyder’s emergency manager. It appears that his attitude exudes a lack of sincere concern for Detroit outside of a fat paycheck.

In other words, there is the appearance of entitlement.

Obviously an official residing in the city doesn’t guarantee the best interests of Detroit will be served. We only need to look at the sentencing of former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his partner in crime, Bobby Ferguson, to be reminded of that. However, Detroit doesn’t need outsiders who don’t have a vested interest in the city disrespecting its residents. This isn’t about Bonsall being white. Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, who is black, is also a culprit. He too exhibited disdain for Detroiters back in August when he called us “dumb” and “lazy.”

Bonsall should be fired, but I doubt he will be.

When unelected outsiders are running Detroit’s affairs, they can’t help but lack sensitivity. They also lack accountability. Hence, the Bonsall fiasco is part of a larger symptom of emergency management’s unfairness.


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