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Columbia legislators react to Black Caucus

January 04, 1996
By: Angie Gaddy
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Columbia's senior legislator expressed sympathy with the concerns raised Wednesday by the legislative Black Caucus which threatened to withhold its support of the Democratic candidate for House speaker.

Rep. Ken Jacob, D-Columbia, said he agrees with the Black Caucus' concerns of being fairly represented in the party. "In my opinion, I think they're absolutely right," he said.

In formal statement, the Black Caucus charged "The General Assembly has systematically excluded African Americans from House leadership positions and employment within the state."

While voicing sympathy with the caucus, Jacob also displayed some frustration with how the dispute had disrupted normal legislative business.

"This is democracy at its best and at its worst," Jacob said. "No group in this body has a majority. It's a complete breakdown."

Columbia's junior House member, Rep. Tim Harlan, also expressed frustration with the day's political turmoil.

"I'm disappointed we found out all those things through a press release," Harlan said of the formal statement the caucus issued which provided many House Democrats with their first official word about the Black Caucus demands.

Harlan said legislative business will begin once the leadership question is resolved. "We'll just have to hold until we deal with this speaker question," he said.

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