After posting insults about local politicians and a conservative pundit on Twitter, a top business recruiter for the city has been demoted.
James Sauls, who Raleigh hired as its economic development manager in 2013, on June 13 started a new role as “senior business assistance program manager” in the office of economic development, according to Damien Graham, the city’s communications director.
Jim Greene, an assistant city manager for economic development, will work as economic development manager until Raleigh hires someone new to fill Sauls’ old job, Graham said. He declined to comment further.
“Looking forward to continuing to provide jobs and new investment for the City of Raleigh and the citizens of Raleigh,” Sauls said.
The demotion comes nearly a month after Sauls apologized for offensive comments on Twitter under the alias of “Hot Rod Earl.” The tweets and account are deleted. But photos captured by Raleigh residents of “Earl’s” old tweets show him tweeting that state Sen. Phil Berger is “a true piece of (excrement)” and that former Gov. Pat McCrory should take his (rear) “back to Ohio.”
A photo of another tweet shows Earl telling conservative pundit Tomi Lahren that he would respect her comments more if she had her breasts “out while talking.”
Sauls said the tweets were meant to be funny and “not meant to harm, degrade or indignify anyone.”
“I have learned an invaluable lesson and would like everyone to know that my comments made on my personal twitter are in no way a true reflection of who I am as a person, father, husband, son or friend,” he posted on Twitter.
The city paid him $97,967 as economic development manager. His new salary will be $88,170.
Sauls’ apology in May came three days after the “Earl” account got into an argument with Raleigh residents about Wake County commissioners potentially raising the property tax rate if they adopt a proposed budget for next fiscal year.
Resident Josh Hill pointed out that commissioners could potentially raise taxes for the fourth time in a row, and the Earl account tweeted that Hill could “go back” to Virginia. Hill, reached Wednesday, said he’s glad that Sauls no longer leads economic development efforts for Raleigh but that he’s disappointed Sauls wasn’t fired.
“I guess city leadership disagrees with me that there is no place for people that display sexist views, like those of Mr. Sauls, in our city’s government,” Hill said.