The Rockford Files

Black Like Me

Rockford alderman Ann Thompson owns a cleaning service.  That, in itself, is not surprising; while Rockford aldermen receive some benefits that are traditionally reserved to full-time employees (such as health insurance), they are paid a part-time stipend, and only those who are retired or independently wealthy could afford not to have another job.

For months now, Alderman Thompson has been the chief proponent of a “diversity-procurement policy” for city contracts—what used to be called, in a less politically correct day, “minority set-asides.”  (Today, no one wants to set aside minorities; but who doesn’t want to procure some diversity, which we’ve been assured is the spice of life?)  Her advocacy, too, is not surprising: In addition to being a woman, Alderman Thompson is a Democrat and black.  Of course, to be completely fair, the policy, as the Rockford Register Star notes, “enjoys unanimous support on the council and with Mayor Larry Morrissey.”  (Only 8 of the 14 aldermen are Democrats; 11 are white; and 11 are male.  Mayor Morrissey is a white male independent.)  The only debate has been whether the policy should set “goals” to award 25 percent of contracts to minority-owned firms and 5 percent to firms owned by women, as Alderman Thompson wanted, or whether it should avoid numbers and simply direct the city to award...

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