Kevyn Orr appointee accused of creating hostile workplace

Jim Bonsall accused of turning Detroit office into abusive, rude, offensive work environment

By Rod Meloni - Reporter, CFP ®

DETROIT - Detroit City Treasurer Cheryl Johnson fired off a three-page letter to Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.

In the letter, Johnson complains about the man who recently demoted her, Jim Bonsall. Bonsall is a former auto supplier turnaround executive and the new financial officer appointed by Orr.

Johnson said "he has demonstrated a pattern of behavior that has created a hostile work environment."

"He has attempted to intimidate the staff in addition to being rude and condescending. This pattern extends beyond ethnic and racial lines, but more pronounced with minority women," she wrote.

Among the many frustrations she said there was a particularly damning conversation in a meeting regarding Angels' Night patrols and city staffers volunteering to help.

Johnson said, "Jim stated that he wouldn't subject his family to that and then said, 'Can I shoot someone in a hoodie?'"

"There is just no place for that here," said Detroit City Council President Saunteel Jenkins.

Jenkins has not seen the letter but says if the allegations are true it's a wakeup call for Orr and the talent he brings to City Hall.

"One of the reasons it's important to have people who live in Detroit, and not just people who work in Detroit, is because you have people who understand the needs and the culture of people who are here," said Jenkins.

Johnson's letter went on:

"Jim has brought in a friend of his, who happens to be a white male, to do one of the roles I was responsible for and pay him more than I was being compensated ... this appears to be akin to the friends and family plan that existed under the Kilpatrick administration."

Jim Bonsall released this statement on Thursday:

"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."

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