Detroit Manager Apologizes for Calling Residents “Dumb”

Kevyn Orr

Detroit Manager Apologizes for Calling Residents “Dumb”

Kevyn Orr is trying to diffuse a controversy resulting from an interview where he made unflattering comments about Detroit residents.

Published August 15, 2013

Kevyn Orr, the emergency financial manager of Detroit, has apologized for disparaging comments he made about residents of the city that have caused a stir.

Orr apologized for referring in an interview to some Detroit residents as being “dumb, lazy, happy and rich.”

His comments, which were made in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, drew a good deal of controversy and Orr was asked repeatedly by elected officials and others to apologize for the remarks. He had declined to offer an apology until Wednesday, when he addressed the matter on a local television station.

"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."

In the initial interview Orr was quoted as saying, "For a long time the city was dumb, lazy, happy and rich." He said that "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."

Orr’s comments came shortly after Detroit filed for bankruptcy, a decision made by the emergency manager and Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder.

Since he was appointed by the governor in March, Orr has been a controversial figure in Detroit. Many politicians and community leaders have opposed the naming of an emergency manager with virtually unlimited power to control the city’s finances.

“People are very upset,” said the Rev. James Perkins, the pastor of the Greater Christ Baptist Church on Detroit's East Side and a social activist in the city, speaking with

“It has ruptured what good will he had built up. He revealed his true thoughts about Detroit. And, even though he has apologized, I don’t know that it will build any good will toward him.”

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(Photo: AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

Written by Jonathan P. Hicks


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