Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Greg Hinz: City ward remap takes turn toward the bizarre

Crain's Chicago Business political columnist has some news about this ward remap fight. It seems there still not close to a resolution and as was predicted no map was introduced at today's City Council meeting the last scheduled one of the year!
The first map rolled out by council remap chief Alderman Richard Mell (33rd) would have reduced black and white numbers while increasing the number of wards for Hispanics, who make a convincing case that they're under represented. That plan died almost instantly, amid that shouting match between Mr. Mell and African-American colleague Carrie Austin (37th) that broke up only after police intervened.

A nasty racial spat is the last thing Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants. So, I'm told, he sent word to give the blacks what they wanted.
We've heard about that spat and we've also heard that Mayor Emanuel wanted to stay out of this remap. I think this is a sign of intervention in this process. Correct? Now continuing:
But that would have meant fewer wards for Hispanics. And, I'm told, it would have meant “packing” whites into lakefront wards that would have been as much as 10% larger in terms of population than smaller West and South Side African-American wards. The net effect would have been to create a “phantom” South Side ward, as one alderman puts it privately.

The Hispanics don't like that idea. And lakefront aldermen are rumbling about federal one-man, one-vote rules — rules that specify that, within any government, each elected official generally is supposed to represent the same number of constituents as any other elected official.

Then there's talk that the Daley family — which didn't return my calls — is stepping up its longtime dispute with Alderman Bob Fioretti (2nd), seeking to stick his house in a Bridgeport-based ward. Further word is that incumbent Bridgeport Alderman James Balcer then would see fit to retire, opening up a new ward for a younger Daley.
We also know about the attempt to carve a new 11th ward which is the home base of the Daley family.

Needless to say Hinz says what we may already have figured out. They're still no where close to producing a new ward map. Even if they did, the lawyers and lawsuits may likely come even if they are able to come up with the votes for the map in the city council.

BTW, read some of the comments. I would be nice to not have to think about the officeholders, political parties, or even race/ethnicity to consider these ward boundaries. One commenter even had a list:
Remaps should:
1) follow existing political boundaries
2) follow neighborhood boundaries
3) follow geographic boundaries (rivers, railroads, major arterials)

Things that should have no bearing on the map boundary are:
1) where an elective official lives
2) the ethnic group of an area
3) the income of an area
4) political affiliation of the constituents of an area
Just like this proposed map by the Pro Bono Society, it would probably make too much sense for some people. The Hispanic continue to fight for what they believe should be theirs and the Blacks continue to maintain what they have in spite of the census numbers.

All the while the residents of the 6th Ward who are expected to be affected by this remap wait to see which ward would represent them.

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