Controversy over Mo. House Speaker's "Cairo" statement - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Controversy over Mo. House Speaker's "Cairo" statement

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Rep. Steven Tilley (Source: YouTube) Rep. Steven Tilley (Source: YouTube)

Illinois State Senator Gary Forby (D) is speaking out after a YouTube video was released of Missouri Speaker of the House Steven Tilley (R) saying he would rather see Cairo underwater than Mississippi County, Missouri.

In the video taken by Freelance Reporter Jason Rosenbaum, Tilley, from Perryville, was asked about the plan to intentionally break a levee in Mississippi County.

"I've heard of that," Tilley said Wednesday.  "I haven't had an opportunity to visit with the local people and figure out what their, clearly I mean when you start blowing up a levee and you're going to flood thousands of acres of farmland, that's a pretty significant decision and you know, I'd like to take a look at what the alternatives are before I say whether I agree with it or disagree with it."

"Would you rather have Missouri farmland flooded or Cairo underwater?" someone asked Tilley off camera.

"Cairo," Tilley replied. "I've been there, trust me, Cairo."

"Have you been to Cairo?" Tilley asked.  "Ok, you know what I'm saying then."

"This is no laughing matter," Senator Forby (D-Benton) said in a released statement. "During a time when people are being asked to evacuate their homes and leave behind their belongings, it absolutely blows my mind that this type of talk is being thrown around by the Missouri Speaker. He should be ashamed of himself."

Tilley apologized for Thursday in another YouTube interview posted by Freelance Reporter Jason Rosenbaum.

"I was asked a question about blowing up a dam in Missouri and the negative consequences that happened to Missouri," Tilley said.  "As the Speaker of the House my first responsibility is Missourians and in my effort to defend them I went on to say I think some pretty insensitive and inappropriate remarks about Cairo.  I want to apologize for them and I think politicians that say something stupid or say something incorrect should admit that they say something dumb.  And so first, if anyone that I offended in Cairo I apologize.  I certainly wish no ill will to Cairo.  I will continue to fight for the citizens of southeast Missouri and the farmers and the residents there, but it shouldn't have led to any kind of inappropriate comments about Cairo.  For that I regret it."

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