Saturday, December 3, 2011

Back of the Yards at center of ward remap struggle

I'm sure many of you still want to know how this would relate to the 6th Ward. Time will only tell and at that they may be able to vote on a new map on December 14th. That's not only the day of the next city council meeting, but both my own and JP's birthday! :P
Back of the Yards is trying to pull itself out of political purgatory.

The historic South Side neighborhood today is split into five City Council wards. Residents say that makes them stepchildren in Chicago's famously ward-centric system. Economic growth has been blunted there, they complain, because none of their aldermen has enough stake in the community to give it adequate attention.

But with Hispanic population rising citywide, community groups hope this is the moment they can unify the neighborhood. Aldermen in the City Council's Latino Caucus have proposed creating a new ward centered on Back of the Yards and its large Hispanic population.
Back of the Yards encompasses about four square miles, from Pershing Road on the north to 55th Street on the south, from Western Avenue on the west to Halsted Street on the east.

Three of the wards that now have parts of the neighborhood — the 3rd, 16th and 20th — are majority African-American wards served by black aldermen. Remap observers note the neighborhood has been used as "filler" in the past to raise the populations of those wards without forcing African-American incumbents to run for re-election in areas with strong Hispanic makeups.

"We're not going to let that happen again," said Ald. Proco "Joe" Moreno, 1st.

Latino aldermen point to demographics. Back of the Yards is now about 59 percent Hispanic, up from 51 percent in 2000. It's about 31 percent black, down from 36 percent a decade ago.

But 21st Ward Ald. Howard Brookins Jr., chairman of the City Council Black Caucus, said it's inevitable that some Chicago neighborhoods get split along ward lines, because there are more neighborhoods than wards. "People are always going to be vying for aldermen's resources. It's the nature of the system," he said.

And Brookins pointed out that only around 43,000 people live in Back of the Yards, so forming a ward that approaches the population standard of roughly 53,000 residents per ward for the new map would require slicing off pieces of surrounding neighborhoods.

"Then you could be undermining some other community organization, and we might end up with the same problem all over again," he said.
We already know that Aldermen Foulkes and Cochran are under the gun as far as this remap goes. I still would be very curious how they're going to map in this Back of the Yards ward and then draw out of existence the 15th & 20th wards. The ward map we're currently under was heavily gerrymandered and then couple that with changing populations and demographics this is already a very difficult process.

I wonder if the city council had been able to hammer out any details on Friday?

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