Rauner appointee is out after calling East St. Louis ‘sh*thole’
Springfield, IL – Once again, a Republican government official has had to resign after making a disrespectful, thinly veiled racist comment. This time, it’s the chairman – make that former chairman – of the Illinois Lottery Control Board, Blair Garber.
Garber, a Bruce Rauner appointee from Evanston, resigned Jan. 31 after Springfield’s daily newspaper, the State Journal-Register, reported he had called East St. Louis the “sh*thole of the universe.”
Garber tweeted the comment to rock star Charlie Daniels, who had made his own comment about Senator Dick Durbin revealing and criticizing President Trump’s use of the term to refer to African nations at a Jan. 11 meeting at the White House.
Daniels posted this sarcastic slap at Durbin: “Mr. Durbin I’m sorry that your virgin ears were blistered by the absolutely horrible language President Trump used in front of you. The president actually thought he was addressing a meeting of members of Congress, not a kindergarten class hope you didn’t wet your pants too.”
On Jan.17, Garber was moved to respond, saying “Charlie, Durbin’s home town is (get this) East St. Louis, Illinois! The sh*thole of the universe. Just do a Google search.”
Such “commentary” seldom stays in the shadow, as Garber found out when Journal-Register political writer Bernard Schoenberg reported his words on Jan. 30.
Schoenberg noted that Garber also represents the 9th Congressional District on the Republican State Central Committee. He was appointed in May 2016 to the Lottery board, which advises the lottery superintendent, holds hearings about complaints or violations and establishes advertising policy.
After that story, reaction from both Democrats and Republicans was swift and unanimous – that Garber needed to go. Even Rauner’s spokeswoman, Rachel Bold, said, “There is no place for this kind of language in our political discourse.”
Senate Majority Leader James Clayborne (D-Belleville) rose that same day to defend the city he represents and shift the pressure onto Rauner.
“For someone who claims to love the entire state, Governor Rauner seems to surround himself with people who care little for communities besides their own,” he said. “If the governor does not ask for Mr. Garber’s resignation then I think it is obvious how the governor feels about places like East St. Louis.”
Clayborne added, “When you make comments like that, you disparage the legacies and accomplishments of people like jazz legend Miles Davis, Senator Dick Durbin, Congressman Jerry Costello, Poet Laureate Eugene Redmond, Major General Marcia Anderson, Olympic gold medalists Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Al Joyner, United Nations Ambassador Donald McKenry, United States Ambassador to Morocco Dwight L. Bush and the thousands of unsung heroes who have called East St Louis home.”
Garber resigned the next day, effective immediately. He also resigned from the Republican State Central Committee.