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Another View: Springfield gets ugly

Published: Thursday, April 10, 2014 9:17 p.m. CST • Updated: Thursday, April 10, 2014 9:26 p.m. CST

State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, a Democrat from Aurora, took to the House floor Wednesday afternoon to defend a bill that would curtail the growth of charter schools in Illinois. She was at times sarcastic, at times defensive. She regularly interrupted House members who asked challenging questions about the bill.

No surprise there. The debate in Springfield can be sharp. Chapa LaVia is not shy.

But as she railed against charter schools – she claimed they’re becoming segregated “between the haves and the have-nots” – she turned to her fellow Democrats, waved her arms and said: “Listen to me, minorities. I’m over here because we’re all over on this side of the aisle, right?”

As Republicans audibly protested, she pointed to their side of the room and said: “Wait! We have a half! We have a half!”

She was apparently referring to Republican Rep. John Anthony of Plainfield, who is biracial. Anthony represents much of Grundy County.

She called him “a half.”

Chapa LaVia’s charter schools bill was, thankfully, defeated. Then she asked permission to address the chamber. She tried to apologize for her ugly comment. But it was an apology filled with ifs and buts.

“I apologize,” she began. “But the frustrating thing is ...”

Yes, people occasionally lose their cool in Springfield debate. But Chapa LaVia’s comments seemed calculated. Her apology half-hearted.

Such an ugly racial comment – on the House floor, with a gallery of onlookers – deserved nothing more from her but a full-throated, heartfelt apology. And it deserves an admonishment from the leadership of her party.

– Chicago Tribune

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