Over the last week, Baton Rouge, La.’s Capital Area Transit System CEO Bob Mirabito has been under fire for opining that white passengers don’t use the bus system because there aren’t enough white drivers.
Needless to say, Mirabito is now making the necessary apologies in light of the fallout.
“I apologize,” he said in a statement. “It was never my intention to offend anyone, and I am sorry that my comments on a recent podcast have distracted our community from our continued push to move our transit system forward. My comment, heard in its entirety, was not racially motivated, and I apologize that is the impression it has given people.”
CATS board President Donna Collins-Lewis also issued an apology on behalf of the agency, saying, “The chief executive officer’s job is to continue to make improvements that have been promised to the community. The CEO reports to the board of directors, which is comprised of people from all areas of our community. The board has always, and will continue to, monitor the CEO’s performance in his position.”
According to The Advocate, Mirabito’s comments were made during an interview last week when a podcaster asked him how he was handling the “racial divide” at CATS after becoming CEO. “CATS is actually 95 percent African American. And unfortunately our demographics don’t match Baton Rouge. I would love to have a workforce that matches the demographics of Baton Rouge because I think there are some people out there who may not ride CATS buses because they don’t like the color of an operator’s skin. … That’s a shame,” he said in the interview, according to The Advocate.
The Advocate also reported that some members of the Baton Rouge Metro Council and a union leader found the comments offensive because of the implication that Mirabito wanted fewer black employees and the suggestion that the potential riders were racist.
Denise Marcelle and John Delgado, both council members, called for the CEO to be fired. However, Mirabito does have his supporters, who think maybe the meaning of the comment was exaggerated.
“I don’t understand what the big uproar is about,” CATS board member Ken Perret said, according to The Advocate. “This whole racial thing gets way blown out of hand.
“As far as Denise Marcelle getting excited, she has a lot of other things she needs to be worried about,” Perret added. “She seems to get involved in everything that has some press involved with it. She’s made some statements that are completely wrong and have no facts behind them.”
Read more at The Advocate.