UPDATE #5: The Denver Post editorial board weighs in on Marble's idiocy:
We are saddened a state lawmaker can be this ignorant in 2013.
Moving forward, our conversation needs to be elevated to address poverty, economy, and quality of education. Not fried chicken. #COleg
— Rhonda Fields (@reprhondafields) August 22, 2013
UPDATE #3: A non-apology finally issued from Sen. Vicki Marble, via FOX 31's Eli Stokols:
Marble released a statement Wednesday night. “My comments were not meant to be disparaging to any community. I am saddened they were taken in that regard. I take my responsibility seriously and I hope our work on this committee will offer real solutions to the health and financial challenges of our vulnerable populations.”
UPDATE #2: The Fort Collins Coloradoan's Patrick Malone with more reaction:
Sen. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, was chairing the hearing and promptly called a recess to give the situation a chance to simmer down. When the task force reconvened, Fields had left to attend a community meeting.
Kefalas said Marble’s remarks were unsettling.
“Finally, I did end it because she was going on and on,” Kefalas said. “It was disconcerting that she made those comments. I don’t think she always understands the implications of what she says. I was disturbed. It’s incredibly unfortunate that it distracted us from the important work we’re trying to do to extend more opportunity to folks to raise themselves out of poverty.”
Kefalas said he bristled at Marble’s remarks, and as the chair he was torn about whether to let her continue speaking.
“She wasn’t helping herself at all,” he said. “It’s just really sad that this kind of statement and generalizations and stereotypes can come from an elected lawmaker.” [Pols emphasis]
UPDATE: The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels now with up with a story:
A Republican state senator stunned her colleagues Wednesday during a discussion on poverty when she talked about blacks eating chicken and Mexicans eating vegetables until they move to the United States…
Two Democrats on the committee, Sen. John Kefalas of Fort Collins and Rep. Rhonda Fields of Aurora, later said Marble's comments not only reinforced stereotypes they are inaccurate. They said those in the committee room appeared shocked at the remarks.
Says Bartels, Sen. Marble isn't commenting. Indeed, Marble said quite enough, thank you.
FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports, audio sent to us a short while ago available above:
Democratic lawmakers couldn’t believe their ears as they listened to Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, deliver a long soliloquy explaining that more blacks and Hispanics live in poverty, in part, because of fried chicken.
The comments came during a meeting of the Economic Opportunity Poverty Reduction Task Force Wednesday at the Capitol as lawmakers on the committee were presented with a number of statistics highlighting racial disparities in the poverty rate.
“When you look at life expectancy, there are problems in the black race: sickle-cell anemia is something that comes up, diabetes is something that’s prevalent in the genetic makeup and you just can’t help it,” Marble said. “Although I’ve got to say, I’ve never had better BBQ and better chicken and ate better in my life than when you go down south and you — I love it…"
According to Sen. Evie Hudak, D-Arvada, “there was an audible gasp in the room.”
Moments later, Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, responded to Marble on the record — and she didn’t pull any punches.
Rep. Rhonda Fields' response begins roughly 45 seconds into the clip above. A transcription doesn't really do it justice, so make sure you listen to the whole thing. It should go without saying that whatever ham-fisted point about eating right Sen. Vicki Marble was attempting to make got lost in her rambling showcase of unadulterated racist stereotyping. Sen. Marble proceeded to describe the difference between the diet of "Mexicans in Mexico" versus Mexicans in the United States, and how they are "much thinner down there than they are up here."
Safe to say, Sen. Marble just upped by necessity the GOP's minority outreach budget.
These aren't Marble's first comments to make her fellow Republicans squirm, once having said that "Democrats will do anything to control the way our children learn, live, and even how they act in intimate relationships." And then there was her memorable speech against equal pay for women, declaring "I feel like we've outgrown the Equal Pay Act of 1963." But this time she's taken it to an obviously inappropriate level that not even her party should be able to tolerate. Marble is a close ally of and was elected with support from Dudley Brown and the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, so it will be interesting to see what kind of protection that affords her.
Upshot? It's another opportunity for Colorado Republicans to sort out whether they are the party that put openly racist Jim Welker out to pasture in 2006, or the new one that Photoshops out black people in 2013.