Chicago City Council still has no ward map to vote on 2 days before deadline; lawsuits expected

Craig Wall Image
Monday, November 29, 2021
Chicago ward map redrawing sparks battle of the caucuses
The redrawing of Chicago's ward map following the 2020 census has sparked a battle between the city council's Black and Latino caucuses.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The deadline to get Chicago's new ward map drawn is Wednesday, but two days before there is still nothing for the city council to vote on.

A special Chicago City Council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday to introduce and then vote on the new maps. But with less than 48 hours to go, those maps are still a work in progress and a power struggle suggests they will end up in court.

The ward map must be re-drawn using data from the 2020 census. The work is being done behind closed doors in the aldermanic map room at City Hall.

READ MORE: Redrawing Chicago wards map sets off battle between Black, Latino caucuses

But despite meetings through the weekend to find a compromise, the power struggle between the Black and Latino caucuses seems no closer to being resolved than last week.

Ald. Gil Villegas, who chairs the Latino Caucus, said he is extremely frustrated by the entire process and a lawsuit is almost certain.

"This process has been the least transparent process, probably in the history of Chicago," he said. "And that's saying a lot."

The Latino Caucus presented its proposed map with 15 Latino wards and 15 Black wards. The Black Caucus then presented its own regional maps, from which they wanted 17 Black wards and 14 Latino wards drawn.

"We can't stop anybody with a pen from going down to file a lawsuit, but we think that the maps that will be presented will be defensible, will meet legal muster and will appropriately represent all of Chicago," said Ald. Jason Ervin, chair of the Black Caucus.

During a virtual rules committee meeting Monday, Chairwoman Ald. Michelle Harris defended the process from accusations it was driven by the desires of the Black Caucus, and said the Latino Caucus declined to participate.

"If you create a document and you bring it to the map room, you have to be able to work with your neighbors north, south, east and west to get to a map not that you like, but that you can live with," Ald. Harris said.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, at an unrelated event, said she thinks there will be time for public input before Wednesday's scheduled vote.