The Black Caucus map, also called the City Council Rules Committee map.

The Black Caucus map, also called the City Council Rules Committee map.

Invite public to ward remap hearings

Council logjam to continue in 2022

By Tim Hadac

A sure sign that the city’s ward remapping battle won’t end soon was delivered last week by Eighth Ward Ald. Michelle Harris, who chairs the City Council’s Rules Committee.

Harris announced four additional public hearings in January for the city’s redistricting process and encouraged all Chicagoans to weigh in on the process.

GSWNH BlackCaucusMap 121021

The Black Caucus map, also called the City Council Rules Committee map.

The hearings are set for:

  • Thursday, Jan. 6 at 10 a.m.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 11 at 1 p.m.
  • Thursday, Jan. 13 at 10 a.m.
  • Friday, Jan. 21 at 10 a.m.

To watch the hearings and find instructions for how to participate in public comment, visit ChiCityClerk.com. Written public comment can be sent to [email protected] until 10 a.m. the day before each hearing.

Harris said she will provide City Council members with copies of the maps so they can display them publicly in their communities. Harris also reminded her colleagues that the City Hall map room remains open, and she invites her colleagues to schedule time to meet and work together, either in person or virtually.

Harris also continued to press her colleagues in the City Council to engage in the remap process and work together.

If at least 41 aldermen can agree on a new ward map, it will become law. Otherwise, competing maps may be put to a referendum vote next June.

Currently, the Black Caucus map (also called the Rules Committee map) is said to have the support of 34 aldermen. The competing Latino Caucus map has fewer aldermen behind it, but those Council members are standing firm on their demand for greater Hispanic representation in the Council. Both maps are posted at southwestegionalpublishing.com/news-herald.

A comparison of the two maps most notably shows the 23rd Ward keeping Midway International Airport within its boundaries under the Latino Caucus map; but it is drawn out of 23 and into the 13th Ward in the Black Caucus map. That’s a big deal in the political world, since the alderman who holds Midway has significant influence over contracts and jobs at the multi-billion dollar facility.

“The remap process must be rooted in collaboration and compromise and remain a civil process,” Harris said. “Creating a fair map that reflects all of our city’s diverse communities includes gathering feedback from Chicago residents and active engagement from all City Council members. I hope the public and my colleagues take this duty seriously as we continue to work to secure 41 votes to pass a map and get back to the issues affecting Chicagoans every day.”

A free, interactive redistricting tool is available at app.mydistricting.com/legdistricting/chicago. The public can share ideas for mapping by registering for a free account and creating and submitting either full wards or smaller communities of interest for council members to consider in this process.

Members of the public who need more information can contact [email protected]

Skepticism, cynicism

Discussion of the issue on social media showed skepticism to cynicism earlier this week.

“I’m not buying any of this ‘citizen participation’ stuff,” said Chicago Lawn resident Darren Williams. “These politicians carve everything up in the back room. What the people think doesn’t matter. This is Chicago.”

His neighbor, Delia Woodard, agreed but gave Harris some credit “for at least reaching out and showing folks maps ahead of time. I don’t recall that ever happening in years past.”

Archer Heights resident Francisco Heredia-Moreno had a problem with the schedule.

“Look at when these hearings are,” he said. “Weekdays during the day. Nothing on nights or weekends. So if you work a 9 to 5 job, you’re sh~t out of luck. You think that’s an accident?”

Bill Walczak, of Garfield Ridge, said he doesn’t care what the new map looks like “as long as we get a new mayor who gets crime under control. Things are out of control right now. It has to stop.”

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