Friday, February 3, 2012

Chicago Ward Remap: A Lawsuit Waiting to Happen?

What was mentioned here in this article from Chicago Magazine has been noted before in a variety of pieces seen about the ward remap.
Elisa Alfonso, Midwest redistricting coordinator for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), told me by telephone yesterday that her group, which is headquartered in Los Angeles with a regional office here, is “still studying” whether to challenge the map in court. She points out that there is “no statute of limitations as far as legal challenges go.”

Former City Clerk Miguel del Valle, loser-by-a-mile to Rahm in the mayoral race (and now a self-described “retired elected official”) told me in a telephone conversation yesterday that Emanuel “muscled the map thorough” without giving aldermen, much less the public—there were no public hearing on this final iteration—any time to study it. A small group of aldermen led by Richard Mell made the final changes to the map in a private City Hall all-nighter. Tens of thousands of Chicagoans will find themselves in new wards with new aldermen, but they didn’t get a look at it. There was a manufactured sense of urgency in the air, says del Valle, even though the new map doesn’t take effect until the next municipal election in 2015.

MALDEF’s Alfonso says that Rahm’s impatience was no surprise to her. “He barely had the 41 votes he needed; had he waited longer his support would have dissipated.” Weeks after the map’s passage, she still got emotional as she described watching the “appalling” process and the mayor presiding “with a smirk on his face.”

For del Valle, a lawsuit can’t come quickly enough. “Tortured configurations,” is his description—not good for neighbors who may live within a block of each other and yet be in different wards; not good for many aldermen who may find it tougher to serve constituents; but “pretty good” for Emanuel: “This map puts more power in the hands of the mayor because there will be more reliance on 311 and direct services accessed through City Hall.” (In Chicago, aldermen man the frontline; they’re the ones residents go to for help. In the best-run wards, aldermen and their staffers know residents, speak the same language, understand their problems and how to help fix them.)

Alfonso described a public hearing on the South Side in the week before the vote that “put a face on redistricting…. People talked about such things as how much more difficult is it for a school principal to help a family if the current ward becomes divided among three different alderman.” Alfonso singles out Alderman Rey Colon, 35th, as one of the few “good guys” in this process—one of eight “no” votes and the only Latino to vote “no.” Colon told me yesterday: “I objected to being rushed. That’s how the parking meter deal happened.” He added, “I wanted time to absorb what people were saying at meetings. I didn’t like the sense we have to snap this picture now. I felt there was still an opportunity to come up with the best possible map, and this wasn’t it.” Colon said he fears the map will not withstand legal scrutiny because its “high deviations”—differences in ward populations, around nine percent—renders it “not equitable.” (Some aldermen will have as many as 4,000 more constituents to serve than others.) A referendum that probably would have put the map favored by the City Council’s Black Caucus and the Latino Caucus before voters would have been “appropriate,” he argues, and less costly than the lawsuit he sees coming.
However, according to John Presta of the Examiner:
Whether this lawsuit has any legs remains to be seen. These fights are difficult, if not impossible for the plaintiffs to prevail. Since the vote in favor of the map was 41-8, an overwhelming majority, the chances for success are limited. Several aldermen that The Examiner talked to stated off the record that the lawsuit is a nonstarter and that the council now wants to move onto highr priority items.
When you think about it, why should the city council approve a map that would only be challenged in court at some point?

Another thing to read is how 19th Ward (Beverly, Morgan Park, Mount Greenwood) residents had been able to organize to oppose the ward remap. They still lost a block or two here and there, but the ward is largely intact still. This piece also shows how the Alderman - Matt O'Shea - had been involved in the protests. Some will say that Ald. Sawyer hadn't fought hard enough to keep the 6th Ward together.

Also courtesy of Worlee's Concerned Citizens of Chatham, an official statement from Ald. Sawyer's office on the recently concluded ward map. An assurance of continues representation under him and looking forward to the new boundaries.


  1. Chicago Magazine also revealed which Aldermen are gang member’s best friends!

    Now you can explain to friends and family members who keep wondering why certain Aldermen don’t get voted out! The gangs keep them in office.

    And some of this same Aldermen “gangster crew” are the same ones who screwed the 6th Ward.  Yes, this story is related to the attack on and destruction of the 6th Ward.

    This is a shocking article topic that even WVON is SCARED to discuss.

    Read it and SCREAM!

    Stop trying to delude yourself!
    Chicago magazine would not print this article if their sources had not proven satisfactory to the top law firm they use for slander and libel advice.

    By the way, everything that is wrong with the Black Community is in this Ward Remapping drama:
    Black Politicians betraying their own constituents to satisfy their selfish, EVIL ambitions.

    Criminals having free reign to terrorize communities because preachers, community activists, and politicians WILLINGLY let it happen.

    The Middle Class is being destroyed, but the Black Middle Class is being decimated, ironically, by those Blacks who want to remove any obstacles to their goals of complete control over Black People.

    Those Blacks who strive for excellence are looked down upon by those Blacks who do not strive for excellence…. and the Black Preachers, Black Community Activists, and Black Politicians share in this STUPIDITY!!!



    It's sad to say this, but


  2. I certainly wasn't happy with the secretive process of developing and approving the remap. However, of the map proposals I saw, I thought that MALDEF's was the worst by far. It would have carved up many neighborhoods into multiple wards and been worse for the city overall than the travesty that was approved.

    My neighborhood would have been carved into 3 VERY arbitrary, convoluted pieces by the MALDEF map, which would have destroyed any cohesiveness of political representation in our neighborhood.

    I wish that Waguespack's map, which reduced the number of wards and redrew boundaries in a more fair, representative way, would have gotten approval, but the powers that be totally buried it.

    The approved map was not a "Map for a Better Chicago." Call it what it is: a "Map for Political Hacks' Job Security."


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