In a March 12 e-mail to a group of county managers about the Colony Apartments on Hairston Road, Cornell wrote: “These properties are like a ‘barrell full of monkeys.’”
Ellis said in a June 27 statement that he learned of the comment made by Cornell about a month ago and that he “explained that his statement was not intended to be racially offensive and, given that he has no record of racial insensitivity, I believe him.”
The CEO said that Cornell has received counseling regarding terms that have historical negative connotations and the perception by some that his statement could be received in a manner other than what he intended.
“Mr. Cornell has apologized to his co-workers, the community and to me, and I have accepted his apology and believe that no further action is required at this time.”
Gil Turman, president of the South DeKalb Neighborhoods Coalition and chairman of the Code Compliance Taskforce said he was surprised to hear of the statement and the CEO’s handling of the matter.
“It’s not over and its not acceptable,” Turman said Thursday.
He said he had called the CEO on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss the issue but that Ellis had not returned the call.
“It’s hard for me to see how our CEO can fail to see the damage this would cause,” Turman said. “This historical vulgarity and nasty names that have been bestowed on black people. There has to be backlash.”
Jerome Edmondson, one of two candidates challenging Ellis for the CEO seat ,said Ellis should fire Cornell.
“This type of conduct is irresponsible and unprofessional,” Edmondon said. “It’s a disgrace to our county and its thriving diversity.”
Cornell told WSB TV this week that he had no intend to be racially discriminatory to anybody.
“I apologise for any offense it created,” he said. “That was certainly not in my heart or my mind.”
On Thursday some employees copied on the original email said that they had not received either a written or a verbal apology from Cornell.