Adelante on the Ward Remap

I had fun last week talking with Lourdes Duarte of Hoy’s sister television program Adelante about Chicago’s new ward remap and what it means for the city’s Latino community.

Here’s fellow Huffington Post blogger Kyle Hillman’s take on the process, which led to 18 majority black and 13 majority Latino wards:

It is difficult to say which map would have ultimately been wiser for Chicago residents. The Latino caucus map seems to have followed the one-person-one-vote principle and was maybe easier to defend in court, on the other hand, the Black caucus map clearly had the best compromise potential. Regarding the potential one-person-one-vote, I think maybe Chicago needs to just turn a blind eye toward the discrepancy.

One of my favorite online conversations occurred on Twitter when two people were discussing my diverse North Side neighborhood: Rogers Park. In their discussion one lady inquired how safe living in Rogers Park is because she heard it was bad. Her friend’s response, “… it is North Side, bad not Englewood bad.” That spot-on statement makes me at peace with the idea that my alderman might have to handle five thousand more residents. It also makes me ok with both minority caucuses fighting to figure out a creative way to acquire or maintain voices in city council.

For all the issues we have with crime in Rogers Park it isn’t Austin bad; as bad as Gale Elementary is it is not nearly as bad as several of the CPS schools on the chopping block. While I would like to see the Indian Desi corridor on Devon maintained in one ward, it isn’t nearly as important as keeping the Back of the Yard community together.

Whatever they came up with regarding the compromise map, it just has to help. Otherwise this exercise really was about jobs for currently elected officials and their families. What a wasted opportunity that would be.

For those looking for a more cutting take, there’s always Ben Joravsky’s trenchant columns in the Chicago Reader.  In December of last year he proposed, a ward-remap process  variety on Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal:

So, really folks, why waste a dime on this silliness? As I’ve suggested before, we should just divvy up the city into 50 wards without regard to ethnicity.

Let’s spend the $30 million on things we need—like librarians, teachers, firefighters, and cops. You know, the people who do the real work around here.

The price tag to which Joravsky referred is the price that a law suit could cost the city-it still may happen-from people who say the process did not follow the law.

While he may not sue, rookie alderman Nicholas Sposato certainly was unhappy with the result, which saw his ward’s demographics become substantially more Latino.  So, too, was 43rd Ward Ald. Michele Smith, whose Lincoln Park district  was divided into five wards (There was less squawking a decade ago, when the Back of the Yards had a similar fate.).

In the end, though, the proposal did pass, and the new wards will take effect until 2015.

We’ll have to wait a bit longer to see if Ben’s proposal is accepted, but we don’t have to hesitate before mentioning that one person who did acquit herself well was City Clerk Susana Mendoza, the first Latina to hold this position.

She answered questions throughout the process, posted a jpeg image of the passed map within a couple of hours, and had a downloadable version of the map by the end of the night.

Of course, this was not too surprising, given that Mendoza also announced her wedding on Twitter, according to Shia Kapos.

Still, though, it was a welcome change and an example of how, as former Speaker of the House, always hail-fellow well met Tip O’Neill famously recalled, all politics is local.

Until tomorrow.


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