In attempt to break the redistricting impasse on the Chicago City Council, the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund has drawn its own ward map, which it calls the “Chicago Equity Map.” It reflects the increase in Chicago’s Latino population even more than the map drawn by the City Council’s Latino caucus.
The Chicago Equity Map has 14 Latino-majority wards. Six of those wards -- the 10th, the 13th, the 14th, the 23rd, the 33rd and the 36th -- are represented by white aldermen. Another, the 15th, is represented by African-American Ald. Toni Foulkes.
The 1st Ward has a Latino minority but an alderman, Proco “Joe” Moreno, who is so down with the white community he doesn’t need Latino votes to stay in office. Currently, there are nine Latinos on the City Council. It’s hard to tell how many Latino aldermen this map would produce, because we don’t know which white or black aldermen would be dumped by Latino voters. John Pope (10th), Edward Burke (14th) and Richard Mell (33rd) have already won elections in Latino-majority wards. This suggests that ethnic solidarity is less important to voters that it is to political organizations such as MALDEF and the Latino Caucus. Given a choice between an effective alderman and a co-racialist, voters prefer the former.
“Calling for 14 majority Latino wards, 18 African-American wards, and keeping the communities of Chinatown and Back of the Yards together while maintaining the legal population requirements based on the 2010 Census numbers, is the foundation of the proposed Equity map filed today by MALDEF with the city of Chicago,” the group said in a statement. “The proposed map also complies with the requirements of the federal Voting Rights Act, the United States Constitution and the Illinois Constitution, which mandates that the map being proposed provides fair and equal opportunity for minority residents of the City of Chicago to elect representatives of their choice.”
MALDEF’s map is never going to pass because it ignores the most important factor in redistricting: protecting incumbents. The map was drawn without considering the residences of any of the 50 aldermen who would have to pass it. It also doesn’t pay much attention to neighborhood boundaries: the proposed 19th and 21st ward split Beverly right in half. Little Village is divided between the 14th and the 22nd.
So far, no one has come up with a map that satisfies 41 aldermen. We voters will probably have to choose one ourselves.
Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!