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*** UPDATED x1 *** Diversity is more than drinking a glass of milk

Friday, Feb 23, 2018

* 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 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 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:

Rachel Bold
Press Secretary
Office of Governor Bruce Rauner

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - RNUG - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 11:28 am:

    Ouch. That ain’t going to help Rauner with any minority outreach.

  2. - Norseman - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 11:31 am:

    Rauner’s interest in minority issues was solely to garner votes to help him win election. Once he achieved that purpose, Rauner focused on his true interests - killing labor and making things easier for his business pals.

  3. - Henry Francis - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 11:34 am:

    I think Odom was shuffled around between DCEO-Intersect-CMS before he realized what his true role was for the administration.

    Time for the Guv to load up the trash can van with some cash are start hittin those south side credit unions again.

  4. - Arsenal - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 11:37 am:

    Far be it from me to ever want to stop people from piling on Bruce Rauner, but I will reiterate that 1) it wasn’t *his* stunt, and refusing to participate would’ve looked even worse; 2) The bit about how the chocolate settles at the bottom is actually kind of an apt metaphor.

  5. - Political Animal - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 11:40 am:

    People are being so dishonest about the milk thing. It was an analogy.

  6. - Anon221 - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 11:42 am:

    Rauner is living up (or down, if you want to think of it that way) to that infamous “as a white male” excuse Diana Ricketts gave for him last year. As he drank that milk yesterday, I’m sure he actually saw it as more of a snack than the actual symbol it was meant to be. Odom is smart to leave and distance himself from the Raunerite culture of only the fittest deserve to survive and prosper.

  7. - Dan Johnson - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 11:42 am:

    I kind of feel bad for Rauner on this one. Seems like he was being a good sport.

  8. - RNUG - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 11:42 am:

    == Rauner focused on his true interests - killing labor ==

    Unions, especially in government, have been the pathway to the middle class for minorities. Rauner’s attack on labor was also an attack on them.

  9. - Demoralized - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 11:46 am:

    ==People are being so dishonest about the milk thing. ==

    How? By pointing out how ridiculous it was? I can’t believe anyone would even attempt to defend it.

    ==It was an analogy.==

    If that’s what it was it was an extremely poor one.

  10. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 11:49 am:

    === == Rauner focused on his true interests - killing labor ==

    Unions, especially in government, have been the pathway to the middle class for minorities. Rauner’s attack on labor was also an attack on them.===

    There’s a lot of truth here, but Rauner has tried the angle of when he is calling out Labor, he tries that… “Labor needs to include more minorities” as another reason he feels… “whatever”

    It’s a phony game to destroy Labor and if Rauner can use the guis of making Labor more diverse, Rauner has used that to deflect.

    Rauner is trying to hit his margins to win re-election now, it’s not about effecting change thru diversity.

    That has never been the actions shown by him in the political view.

  11. - wordslinger - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 11:50 am:

    –People are being so dishonest about the milk thing. It was an analogy.–

    No, it was not an analogy. Look up the definition of that word, because you are displaying sad ignorance.

    The “chocolate milk” bit (which, keep in mind was scripted, on purpose) was just weird. Like a bad mix of random stolen pharmaceuticals and alcohol weird.

    Disturbing, really. What were those dudes on? Who thought that bit was a winner?

  12. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 11:55 am:

    When a governor is made to be a prop for a teaching moment… that’s a failure on Staff and on Rauner himself.

    Rauner looks foolish drinking the “metaphor” like a trained sea lion.

    Rauner could’ve been warned, and politely said… “you are probably better at making your own point than I am” before finding himself a joke for the dictionary’s twitter.

    Not “great” advance work.

    The only thing missing was Dukakis’ helmet.

  13. - Streator Curmudgeon - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 11:57 am:, a site that posts offbeat and strange articles, reran the Trib story on the chocolate milk thing this morning.

    Props to Rauner for going along, but bigger props to Odom for telling it like it is.

  14. - The Way I See It - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 12:07 pm:

    When I saw the milk thing, I thought, “That has got to taste like a giant glass of mockery.”

    OW is right on about Dukakis’ helmet.

  15. - Sonny - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 12:16 pm:

    I would agree the milk thing makes him look like a doofus but contextually it is not as bad as featuring an accused felon sex creeper in your TV ad.

  16. - allknowingmasterofracoondom - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 12:25 pm:

    “He described the challenges as petty differences born out of little more than spite.”

    Welcome to Illinois Government. Thank you.

    Mad respect for Mr. Odom. He was the guy for the job, and was stonewalled at every opportunity and idea he brought.

  17. - Jocko - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 12:26 pm:

    Like his workshop, trashcan van, and immigrant grandparents, Bruce takes phony to another level.

    Couldn’t the guy get a staffer to find him a movie stub from Black Panther?

  18. - allknowingmasterofracoondom - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 12:29 pm:

    OW - “The only thing missing was Dukakis’ helmet.”

    Wow. This was my first thought EXACTLY, I even told my wife he need that helmet when we saw clips of it on TV.

  19. - don the legend - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 12:46 pm:

    Rauner is lucky Ives has no credibility on this diversity subject or she could add this to her list of problems she has with her now former political hero.

  20. - Anon312 - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 12:54 pm:

    Rauner’s exec order was in 2016. Odom left in 2017. Clearly he didn’t think it was working. What has Gov Diversity done to improve since then? Some old EO that hasn’t actually panned out is not exactly the best defense here.

  21. - Thinking - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 1:08 pm:

    Easy to sign an executive order, but to quote Rachel Maddox look at what they do, not their words. What action has taken place on the order?

    Law passed 2016 to require task force to meet quarterly, submit a report by December 31, 2017. Governor makes 8 of 12 appointments to the task force. Didn’t make 5 of the appointments until December 2017 and January 2018. Committee never met before end of December when report was due, finally meet last week for first time. Look at what they do, not at what say.

  22. - Steve Rogers - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 1:08 pm:

    This milk-thing would have worked if Rauner was an affable and pleasant person. But he’s so scripted and stoic that when something like the milk-thing occurs, it just comes across as fake. The Dukakis analogy is spot on–he had the exact same problem.

  23. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 1:18 pm:

    == “Governor Rauner and this administration are firmly committed to diversity…”

    (channeling Oprah)
    “You get chocolate milk. And you get chocolate milk. Everybody gets chocolate milk!!!!!”

  24. - Michelle Flaherty - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 1:43 pm:

    All you critics are missing the point.
    He drank the milk.
    It’s all good now.

  25. - VanillaMan - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 1:59 pm:

    Everyone knows that Rauner’s milk is fat free, canned, and whiter than snow.

  26. - Anon221 - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 2:11 pm:

    Here and Now (not Sound Ideas) on NPR in Hour 1 today in a Social Media week wrap-up, featured Rauner and his glass of milk. It’s near the end of the broadcast-

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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