SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) - Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr apologized this morning for a comment he made labeling Detroit as, "dumb, lazy, happy and rich." The apology came during a meeting with 7 Action News editorial staffers.
Anchor Stephen Clark asked Orr about the quote twenty minutes into an hour-long discussion that touched on issues as diverse as pension benefits and who pays for the emergency manager's lodging.
Orr's original comment appeared in a Wall Street Journal interview published August 2nd.
"For a long time the city was dumb, lazy, happy and rich," he said as he spoke to Wall Street Journal writer Allysia Finley about a more carefree time in the city.
"I would say - very clearly to the people of Detroit - I apologize," Orr said Wednesday as he looked directly into a camera in the center of a conference room at WXYZ's Broadcast House.
"That was a slip of the tongue," he explained, saying he never thought his words would be taken as an insult.
"I was being dumb," Orr said of the word choice.
7 Action News anchor JoAnne Purtan followed up, asking Orr why it had taken him nearly two weeks to address the Wall Street Journal quote.
"Being a lawyer, you never cop to a plea when you're innocent," he said of his initial choice to remain silent on the comments. "I didn't do it," he said. "I never meant to insult anyone."
Orr said he had spoken to Mayor Dave Bing and members of City Council seeking their advice on the comments.
"I've since come to realize it's a distraction," he said.
Orr said that his decision to apologize for the remarks came after a discussion with a friend who helped him recognize that he is no longer just an attorney, but a political and public figure in his role as emergency manager.
Shortly after Orr's comments were published by the Wall Street Journal, critics called on Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to fire the city's emergency manager.
At the time, more than a dozen retirees went to city hall demanding an apology from Orr. They called his comments, "Ignorant," "slanderous" and said Detroit's municipal retirees were being treated as "scapegoats."