Society

Kansas Town Commissioner Under Scrutiny For Racist Comment During Town Meeting

| by Jonathan Wolfe
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Saline County Commissioner Jim Gile (R) is being heavily criticized today after using the term “ni**er-rigging” during a town council meeting last week.

In the meeting, Gile, 68, was discussing whether or not the town should hire an architect to repair a town bridge. When there was disagreement between council members, Giles said he would like to hire an architect to do the work rather than "ni**er-rigging” it. His remark reportedly elicited laughter from others in the room. When Giles was asked to clarify what he said, he replied “Afro-Americanized.”

On Friday, Giles said that he meant to use the term “jury-rigged” instead.

“I had it (jury-rigged) on my brain and this came out. It was a bad choice of words. I'm sorry,” he said.

Gile later said that he may have used the term because he grew up using it. Speaking to the Salina Journal, Gile insisted that he’s not racist.

"I am not a prejudiced person," he said. "I have built Habitat homes for colored people." Gile added that he has a close black friend “whom he regards as a sister.”

Several Kansas officials are not happy with Gile’s remarks. State representative J.R. Claeys (R) and Kansas Democratic Spokesman Dakota Loomis have released statements on Gile’s words.

"It's shocking in this day and age that he would use this type of language and find it to be such a non-issue," Loomis said. "He needs to take a real hard look at how he represents the people in Saline County. This demonstrates a complete and utter lack of awareness. It calls into question his fitness to serve."

Congressman Claeys, who represents Gile’s county in the House, echoed Lommis’ sentiments.

“I think every citizen in our county should take a long, hard look at every individual in that room who allowed those comments to slide without immediately correcting and repudiating, not one, but multiple comments that are absolutely unacceptable in private, let alone a public meeting," he said. "This speaks to a systemic problem with the makeup and operation of county government that is already viewed as a good ol' boys club and needs to be dismantled by the people in such a way that it can no longer operate in this manner."

Although no actions have been taken at this time, many in Saline are calling for Gile’s resignation. 

(Gawker, Huffington Post, Talking Points Memo)