You can add one more quote to the list of controversial comments State Sen. and Chicago mayoral candidate James Meeks has made over the years. In an interview yesterday, Meeks offered up, in essence, a new definition of who is a minority. "I don't think women, Asians, and Hispanics should be able to use that title," he told WVON. "That's why our numbers cannot improve, because we use women, Asians, and Hispanics, who are not people of color, who are not people who have been discriminated against. We fought for these laws based on discrimination. Now, groups that have not been discriminated against are the chief beneficiaries."
Meeks later tried to clear the air by saying that as mayor he would not allow "white women" to be considered minorities.
The obvious absurdity of Meeks' comments add to a long line of positions held by Meeks that reinforce his role as the conservative in the race. And yesterday was a two-fer on that front. The South Side minister is also pushing a plan to give school vouchers to 50,000 students in Chicago, an expansion of a previous voucher bill he backed in the General Assembly.
On the other side of the political spectrum, City Clerk Miguel del Valle was given the label of the "liberal's liberal" by Edward McClelland, who noted that del Valle has strongly supported the Sweet Home Chicago ordinance, backed three voter referenda about police hiring, the meter lease, and a financial speculator tax, and garnered support from progressive activists.
UPDATE (1:23 p.m.): Here's a statement from the Meeks campaign:
"Senator Meeks strongly believes all minority and women-owned businesses deserve their fair share of City contract opportunities. But there's no pretending that Chicago has a history of systemic corruption in its minority and women-owned business program and that African-American owned businesses are the most underrepresented among city contractors. Lucrative contracts have repeatedly gone to companies disguised as minority- or women-owned, resulting in multiple investigations, firings and imprisonment on this issue."
"This completely violates the intent of the City's minority and women-owned program and has contributed to African American businesses receiving a disproportionately low number of city contracts, a fact that is widely known and has been reported extensively in the media."