City Council Hispanic Caucus Looks to Add Wards in Remap

By Chuck Sudo in News on Nov 11, 2011 10:45PM

2011_11_11_ward_map.gif 25th Ward Ald. Danny Solis, who also heads City Council's Hispanic Caucus, is suggesting rather loudly that Chicago should have 14 Hispanic wards in the upcoming ward redistricting to reflect the population gains of Hispanic Americans in Chicago between the 2000 and 2010 Censuses.

The City Council Hispanic Caucus presented their own version of the ward map showing a new super-Hispanic ward on the Southwest side with a Latino population of at least 65 percent, culled from parts of five current predominantly black wards: the 3rd, 15th, 16th, 18th and 20th.

Hispanic gains in population would also create a super-ward from parts of the the 29th, 30th, 31st, 36th, 37th and 38th wards, and create two wards of Hispanic influence.

Solis said of their proposed map:

“We think it’s a fair number, and we are going to be presenting a map reflecting that in the next few days,” Solis said. “We could probably try to push for one or two more. This would probably be a safe number we could get without a lot of controversy.”

22nd ward Ald. Ricardo Munoz added, “If we’re one third of the city, why are we one-fifth of the City Council? It’s not that we deserve it. That’s the law." Courts have ruled the Voting Rights Act requires that Latino supermajorities of 65 percent or more are required to give Hispanics an equal opportunity fair shot at electing a representative of their choice.

In Chicago, two Hispanic supermajority wards, the 14th and 13th, are represented by Ed Burke and Marty Quinn, respectively. (Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan is the main wielder of power in the 13th Ward.)

Much like how war shouldn't be left to the generals, it's our opinion that ward remapping shouldn't be left to the aldermen. Maybe they should get the Pro Bono Thinking Society involved in the remapping process. They recently completed a project where they showed what a new ward map would look like without the specter of influence.

"We decided to look purely at total population data at the census tract level and ignore any data on race, socioeconomic status, or voting history. We found discussions of “white wards” and “hispanic wards” and “black wards” to be focused on a past that should no longer exist in the City of Chicago. A ward should be designed to represent a geographical community area within the city, not race. As the first Asian alderman, would anyone claim that Ameya Pawar of the north side 47th ward represents the Asian population of Chinatown? Would a white alderman representing Lakeview serve the same interests as a white alderman in Bridgeport? We felt it was time the redistricting process focused on clearly defined, compact wards that were based on intact census tracts rather than gerrymandered blocks.

"Wards should be based on geographical boundaries (such as roads, waterways, public spaces), and general community areas, with the aim of being as compact and easily identifiable as possible. Wards should not be created based on race, political implications, or for the benefit of any individual or individual group. Using census tract level data helps achieve several of these objectives, as census tracts themselves are designed to be relatively compact and follow common sense boundaries."

Here's what their map looks like.

2011_11_11_pro_bono_thinking_ward_map.png

It's not only a common sense map. It's pretty and lacks any touch of the gerrymandering that, as an example, kept the home of former Mayor Richard J. Daley in the 11th Ward for years when it probably should have been in the 3rd Ward.