Latino and Black Caucuses File Ward Map Proposals, Back of the Yards Divided Once Again
The Map for a Better Chicago, introduced by the Black Caucus, draws 18 majority African American wards and 13 Latino wards.
Proposed ward maps from both the City Council’s Latino and Black Caucus were introduced last week exhibiting plans of the new ward boundaries.
The Latino Caucus’s version introduced by chair, 25th Ward Ald. Danny Solis on Thursday Dec. 15, also called the “Taxpayer Protection Map,” draws three new Latino majority wards and two fewer African American wards.
On the other hand, the Black Caucus version also known as “Map for a Better Chicago,” introduced on Friday Dec. 16 by Rules Committee leader, 33rd Ward Ald. Richard Mell, draws 18 majority African American wards and 13 Latino majority wards—one more African American ward and the same amount of Latino wards than the Taxpayer Protection Map.
Currently the Map for a Better Chicago has enough votes to pass the City Council with 32 aldermen on board, but if 10 or more aldermen support an alternate map, as is the case for the Taxpayer Protection map, voters can be asked to choose between them in a referendum, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune.
But as both caucuses dispute over which map should be approved, neighborhood organizations such as the Committee for a Unified Back of the Yards (CUBY), refuse to endorse either maps.
“Neither map accomplishes the goal of keeping the Back of the Yards neighborhood unified into one ward,” said Jose Alonso, CUBY member.
As they stand, the Taxpayer Protection Map would divide Back of the Yards into four wards (11th, 12th, 15th and 16th), while the Map for a Better Chicago would divide the neighborhood into three wards (15th, 16th and 20th). Presently, Back of the Yards is divided into five wards (3rd, 11th, 12th, 16th and 20th), a division that has prevented the community from addressing issues such as gang violence, unemployment and education, according to Alonso.
The Taxpayer Relief Map, introduced by the Latino Caucus, draws three new majority wards and two fewer African American wards.
“CUBY has been working to keep our neighborhood boundaries intact to prevent us from being marginalized once again,” he said. “Although there are some benefits from each map, we want to make sure our schools, parishes and social services remain together for the benefit of the residents.”
Public hearings were promised by the City Council after the maps were released but no timeline has been set, a problem, according to Alonso, that has affected the transparency of the redistricting process.
“Certain steps have been taken towards transparency, but overall, the aldermen have not gone far enough,” he said. “Hearings were held, but the public was not given enough notice. Maps were made public, but only the legal descriptions were made available. The redistricting website has not been updated in more than a month and it’s not very useful. Lately, we have had to rely on media reports to keep us informed.”
Despite not knowing when the next hearing will take place, Alonso assures CUBY will be prepared to fight for a unified ward.
“We’re looking at population density and ethnic makeup of the city to find ways to tweak the lines,” said Alonso. “We want to find a way to keep our neighborhood unified.”