Earlier this week, Bob Mirabito, CEO of Baton Rouge’s Capital Area Transit System (CATS) claimed that the reason white passengers will not ride the bus is because there are not enough white drivers.
Podcaster, Clay Young, interviewed Mirabito on how he would proceed in handling the controversial racial divide at CATS after accepting his role as CEO. “CATS is actually 95% African American,” he explained. “And unfortunately, our demographics don’t match Baton Rouge.” He then adds:
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.
According to The Advocate, Mirabito allegedly said he “heard” that the civil rights organization, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was helping bus drivers “picket” at the CATS main terminal stations. Metro Councilman John Delgado reported that Mirabito should be fired if he refused to apologize for his intolerant racist comments.
If that’s his assessment of the potential ridership of Baton Rouge, then he’s an idiot and needs to be fired,” Councilman Delgado argued. “It’s obscene. I find it offensive.
Although Delgado insists that an apology should be made, Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle argues that an apology does not erase his ignorant statement. It is a little too late. She comments:
If the board and my colleague who chairs the board sits there and allows that, we’ve got a real problem.
In an interview with the Advocate, Mirabito stood by his comments and refused to apologize, saying that this is a “goal,” to try to “match” the demographics of the community of Baton Rouge. A day after his “never backing down” speech, Mirabito issues a statement apologizing claiming that his comments were not intended to be racially prejudice.
“I apologize,” Mirabito said. “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.”
On behalf of Mirabito’s statement,CATS Board President Donna Collins-Lewis also apologized to the community of Baton Rouge, who she claims were really offended by the comments Mirabito made.
“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.”
Unlike Lewis and Marcelle, other board members including Jim Brandt, supported the CATS leader and felt his comments were harmless and taken out of context. He tells the Advocate:
“I think he’s done an outstanding job, and I’m fully supportive of his continuation as CEO. We, as a board, will carefully listen to anything brought forward by council members or others and will continue to do that, but I haven’t seen anything that would suggest he should be dismissed at all.”
Scott McKay, publisher of conservative website The Hayride, also defended Mirabito, but added that his statement was “stupid.” He says:
The people Mirabito is talking about who don’t ride CATS buses for racial reasons are predominately older white women, particularly older white women who no longer drive. And their reticence about black people on CATS buses isn’t with the drivers, it’s with the other passengers,” McKay wrote.
“Yes, it’s unfortunate you have white people who don’t want to ride with black people, and it’s also unfortunate you have people, black or white, who can’t behave themselves in such a way as to not drive away other customers.
Listen to the audio interview from Clay Young’s podcast225, below:[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WX57JLdxZ_Y&w=560&h=315]