Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Black Caucus chairman predicts City Council agreement on remap

Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), chairman of the Black Caucus, said a last-minute increase in the boundaries and Hispanic population of the Southwest Side’s 23rd Ward could seal the deal, ending a bitter feud that threatened to divide the City Council along racial lines in a way not seen since Council Wars.

By inheriting Hispanic precincts from the adjacent 14th Ward, the 23rd Ward’s Latino population would rise from 54 percent under a prior draft to 61 percent, sources said.

“There will be a tentative agreement. We will be able to avoid a referendum,” Brookins said, hours before Lincoln Park residents aired their concerns about being splintered into five different wards during the first of two public hearings on the issue.

Ald. Danny Solis (25th), chairman of the Hispanic Caucus, agreed that the two sides were closing in on a compromise.

“If they get to 61 percent for the 23rd Ward and a couple of other things, we’ll be very close,” Solis said.

But, he warned, “We have to make sure taxpayers are protected and whatever map we come up with will be defensible. We need an expert on redistricting to look at the map and say, `This can withstand legal scrutiny.’”

Incumbent Ald. Mike Zalewski (23rd) could be a roadblock. He has signed on to the proposed boundary changes in the ward that now includes Midway Airport.

“I understand everyone has to give a little. But, every time we get close to an agreement, I get a different [Hispanic percentage] and a different set of boundaries. It’s totally splintering the fabric of the 23rd Ward. I can’t let that happen,” Zalewski said.
What does this agreement mean for those concerned neighborhoods of the 6th Ward? Will they be happy about a remap agreement?

There is a remap hearing coming up Thursday night from 6PM to 9PM at Progressive Baptist Church located at 3658 S. Wentworth Ave. There will also be another hearing at City Hall although I don't know if it will be with the same hours as the earlier ones. Will the 6th Ward make themselves heard at these ward remap hearings?

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