Chicago alderpeople have blown the ward remap deadline, and backroom tensions have gone public between the Latino Caucus and Black Caucus over an additional seat for the Latinx community.
The Chicago City Council missed Wednesday’s deadline to pass a new ward map, as negotiations reached an impasse over the boundaries that will shape Chicago politics for the next decade and determine the balance of power between Black, Latino and Asian Chicagoans.
The City Council met briefly Wednesday afternoon, allowing Rules Committee Chair Ald. Michelle Harris (8th Ward) an opportunity to unveil the map drawn behind closed doors and supported by the City Council’s Black Caucus.
Harris said she would hold two public hearings on the proposal next week, but did not expect to call for a vote until after the holidays.
“We’re going to sit down and work,” Harris said, calling the map released Wednesday a “starting point.”
However, the City Council did not debate or vote on that proposal — or the latest map proposed by the City Council’s Latino Caucus.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot did not attend Wednesday’s City Council meeting, traveling instead to Washington, D.C., to meet with federal officials to discuss President Joe Biden’s infrastructure agenda as well as COVID-19 relief efforts.
In a virtual news conference with reporters, Lightfoot said the remap fight was “inside baseball” not of interest of Chicagoans focused on “jobs and safety.” The mayor said her time was much better spent ensuring Chicago gets its fair share of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill and helping shape the second part of the president’s plan awaiting a vote in the Senate.
Maps from both groups would redraw the 11th Ward to create a ward centered around Chinatown with a majority of Asian American voters, carving up the heart of the political empire that elected former Mayors Richard J. Daley and Richard M. Daley and ruled the city for decades.
That proposal comes over the vehement objections of the mayors’ grandson and nephew Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson (11th Ward), who is scheduled to stand trial in February on charges that he submitted false tax returns and lied to FBI agents.
By Thursday, fifteen alderpeople moved to ask Chicago voters to decide what the boundaries of the city’s 50 wards should be, escalating the raging dispute over the map that will shape Chicago politics for the next decade and determine the balance of power between Black, Latino and Asian Chicagoans.
By filing the map crafted by the Chicago Latino Caucus with the city clerk’s office, the alderpeople ensured that the June 28 primary election ballot would ask voters to decide what the ward map should look like for the first time in 30 years — unless 41 alderpeople can agree on a map before May 19.
Latino Caucus Vice Chair Ald. Silvana Tabares (23rd Ward) said those negotiations will continue in the coming weeks but called on members of the City Council’s Rules Committee and the Black Caucus to negotiate in good faith — something she said they had not done since the remapping effort began.
“It is time to let the people of Chicago decide,” what the ward map will look like, Tabares said.
Meanwhile, the Obamas were in Chicago Thursday and Friday, the Sun-Times reported.
In the courts, the case against Jussie Smollett is boiling down to whether he is more believable than the Osundairo brothers, who testified that the actor orchestrated the attack. Lawyers presented various motives including an anti-gay hate crime, a lovers pact, or a $2 million shakedown. The big question for next week: will the actor testify and will his story hold up under cross examination?
On the pandemic front, Thanksgiving and holiday travel are partially to blame for highest COVID-19 infection rates in Chicago and Illinois in 10 months.
Meanwhile, the Omicron variant now confirmed across the U.S. And, public health officials say it’s only a matter of time before it gets here.
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