Black, Latino aldermen call holiday truce in remap dispute

December 22, 2011 (CHICAGO)

"I think that right now everybody wants to take a pause and go to neutral corners," Ald. Howard Brookins, 21st Ward, said.

At the year's final council committee hearing, black and Latino aldermen observed a truce in their dispute over how to re-map the city's 50 wards.

"I'm hoping everybody has a Merry Christmas and comes back refreshed and ready to work after the holidays," Ald. Danny Solis, 25th Ward, said.

The council's eight Latino members want a map with enough majority Hispanic wards that could increase their number to at least 13, which comes much closer to reflecting the city's growing Latino population. But African American aldermen resist giving up more than one of their 19 wards despite the fact the city's black population has fallen.

"They were unable to give us what we want and for them to get what they want," Ald. Solis said.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel-- fearing referendum election and/or court cases that could cost the city tens of millions of dollars-- has used emissaries to let warring aldermen know he might use his clout in Springfield to reduce the size of the Chicago City Council from 50 members to 25 members—made up of eight majority black wards, eight majority white wards and seven majority Latino wards. The two remaining wards would be one black influence and one Latino influence.

"So when we saw that and they put that out on the table, we said "fine." That would be pretty good for the Hispanics in terms of the representation it presents," Ald. Solis said.

But the black caucus chairman says the smaller council and the remap are separate issues.

"I don't think that this issue ought to be used as a threat against a ward remap," Ald. Howard Brookins, 21st Ward, said.

Many of the council's 18 aldermen who were elected for the first time this term would be among the most vulnerable in a move to reduce the council size. James Cappleman of the 46th Ward says 25 aldermen would not be as effective answering constituent calls.

"It would make it much worse because voters are expecting their alderman to do what 3-1-1 is not doing," Ald. James Cappleman, 46th Ward, said.

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