* From May of 2017…
Tech entrepreneur Jimmy Odom, who went to work for Gov. Bruce Rauner to focus on minority entrepreneurship in 2015, said Monday that he’s leaving state government.
In a Medium.com post announcing his resignation as acting assistant director at the Illinois Department of Central Management Services, Odom said the state hasn’t given enough attention and resources to minority business development. […]
In an interview Monday, Odom said he’s seen routine inattention to underinvested communities that could be turned around with more economic opportunities — and didn’t put all the blame on Rauner’s administration.
“I think that we can do more. And I believe that a lack of investment has been going on for a long period of time. It’s not just this administration,” he said. “This didn’t just happen when Bruce got into office.”
A budget impasse that has left programs unfunded was also frustrating, he said.
* From his Medium.com post…
Prior to accepting this position, I always stated I would step down in my role if I believed the Illinois’ leadership towards helping the community was no longer a genuine priority. Unfortunately, that day has come. […]
It is my belief that if Illinois had leadership and staff who truly cared about the positive impact these efforts would have on our communities, the proper attention and resources needed would be addressed and we’d experience change.
* WCIA FOIA’d Odom’s resignation letter and ran this story last night…
Achieving diversity and inclusion in state government has proven harder than stirring a glass of chocolate milk for the first term governor. In May of last year, Rauner policy advisor Jimmy Odom submitted a stinging resignation letter citing frustrations with the administration on that precise issue. […]
Odom, who was tasked with improving relations and expanding business opportunities for minority contractors, wrote to his boss at Central Management Services that “needs of the minority business programming for the state isn’t important to the administration.”
Rauner spokeswoman Rachel Bold responded in an email that “Governor Rauner and this administration are firmly committed to diversity, inclusion and providing opportunities to minority business owners.”
In a phone call, Odom says he harbors no ill will toward Rauner personally, but rather grew disenfranchised with what he described as general apathy and inefficiencies in state government. When a sensible solution presented itself, he said political opposition would routinely interfere to deny the other party a political victory. He described the challenges as petty differences born out of little more than spite.
The full letter is here.
*** UPDATE *** From the governor’s office…
Governor Rauner and this administration are firmly committed to diversity, inclusion and providing opportunities to minority business owners.
In 2016 the Governor signed Executive Order 2016-08 which expanded opportunities for minorities contracting with the state. It established the first sheltered market in the state of Illinois, which has been lauded as a major step forward for minority participation in state contracting.
You can find the executive order here:
Office of Governor Bruce Rauner