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Meeks Contemplating Retirement From State Senate

By Prescott Carlson in News on Apr 21, 2011 6:20PM

2010_11_9_meeks.jpg Illinois State Senator James Meeks is thinking about fleeing the sinking ship that is Springfield to return to his true calling as head of the Salem Baptist Church holding court in the 10,000 seat House of Hope in the Pullman neighborhood.

During a WLS interview with Dan Proft and Bruce Wolf, who are filling in for the vacationing Don Wade and Roma, Meeks said that his church "has been awfully good" to him, and that being in the state Senate "takes a lot of time" and that it's "probably time to concentrate on the church and give them that kind of exclusivity that I was willing to give the office of Mayor... I haven't made up my mind yet [about not running for re-election], but I'm leaning toward it."

He said 50 percent of his decision comes from frustration with Springfield failing to pass his various bills. Meeks did have an "I told you so" moment earlier this year, however, when Gov. Pat Quinn raised the state income tax to 5% -- something Meeks had proposed in a tax bill way back in 2009.

Meeks had hoped to exit the Senate via the Chicago Mayor's office before he dropped out of the mayoral race in December, but not before making headlines by saying that women, Asians and Hispanics should not be allowed to consider themselves minorities, a statement he later tried to backpedal away from.

Meeks also weighed in on Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel's choice for CPS head Jean-Claude Brizard, saying he trusts Emanuel and his team that they vetted Brizard and that he's "willing to support him because this is [Emanuel's] choice." Meeks says Emanuel "reached out" to him to discuss Brizard a couple of hours before the announcement of Brizard's hiring was made. Meeks also said the Senate will be soon be revisiting the issue of school vouchers and voting on a bill sponsored by Meeks that would create a new Illinois School Choice Program.