Latino aldermen want say on ward remapping

December 15, 2011 (CHICAGO)

A final decision must be made by the end of the year or Chicago voters may have to take part in a special referendum.

Thursday, the Latino Caucus presented its own idea for redrawing the ward map.

The one thing alderman agree on is that they hope to avoid the cost and energy of a referendum or litigation. By some accounts, the disagreement may not be that great, but the difference was apparently great enough for some to file their own proposal.

The aldermanic battle over the city's new ward map has entered a new phase. Thursday, the Latino Caucus, with the support of some non-Latino aldermen, submitted a proposal for Chicago's ward remap that includes 13 Hispanic wards and 17 African-American wards.

"We are going to present it to the taxpayers of the City of Chicago," said 25th Ward Alderman Daniel Solis. "We think that the map that we will present is fair and legal."

"It has fairness built into it," said 2nd Ward Alderman Robert Fioretti. "It deals with the emerging Hispanic population, the declining African-American and white population."

The chairman of the rules committee, 33rd Ward Alderman Dick Mell, has been working on another proposal that has the backing of the Black Caucus.

"I believe we're just a few blocks away from having a total coalition map with everybody unfortunate it didn't happen," said Mell.

"We continue to negotiate in good faith to try and come up with compromises that satisfy the needs of the Latino and African-American communities, and also fair to our other colleagues," said 21st Ward Alderman Howard Brookins.

"The closer we got, the harder it got, and it's unfortunate that they thought it necessary to file a map, but now it becomes necessary for us to engage in the public conversation," said 40th Ward Alderman Patrick O'Connor.

The remap process threatens to reduce and alter some wards as to address the change in Chicago's population in the last decade, which saw an increase in 25,000 Latino Americans.

"Any process that takes away 80 percent of my ward, I can't sign on to anything like that," said 36th Ward Alderman Nicholas Sposato.

The second proposal is expected to be filed with the clerk's office Thursday night or Friday. Then there will be three public hearings.

Alderman Mell plans to have a remap approved by the rules committee in time for January's full City Council meeting, so expect two proposals for remapped wards, but there could be more.

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