City Council passes new ward map, 41-8

Local GovernmentElectionsPoliticsNicholas SposatoMichael ZalewskiToni FoulkesRobert Fioretti

Less than two hours after putting the finishing touches on a new map of the city's 50 wards, the Chicago City Council  approved it over the vehement objections of some aldermen whose political futures are imperiled by the redrawn boundaries.

The vote was 41-8, a strong enough majority to avoid putting dueling maps before voters in an election.

But the lopsided approval of the map does not avoid the possibility of a lawsuit, which several aldermen said was inevitable.

At issue were the different population sizes, with some South Side wards having more than 4,000 fewer constituents than their North Side counterparts. Some aldermen said those deviations violated the one-man, one-vote principle.

Ald. Robert Fioretti, 2nd, whose ward was shifted from south and west of the Loop to a ribbon-shaped area south and west of Lincoln Park, decried what he called an unnecessary rush. There's no city election under the new boundaries until 2015.

An attempt by Fioretti and Ald. Nicholas Sposato, 36th, to invoke a routine delay of the vote, in part to give the public a chance to review it, was out-flanked by a parliamentary maneuver.

At one point before the meeting, Fioretti yelled at Maria Guerra, who works  in Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Department of Intergovernmental Affairs, as she explained the impending maneuver to him.

"Don't people have a right to see this?" he asked afterward.

But Ald. Richard Mell, 33rd, who headed up the remap effort, and Ald.Patrick O'Connor, 40th, the mayor's floor leader, said the map was "99 percent" the same as the so-called Map for a Better Chicago presented at four public hearings in the past week.

O'Connor said the final map had been in the works for as long as it took to paint the Sistine Chapel.

Mell also said the "map could withstand a challenge."

Both dismissed the notion that a wholesale shifting of the 2nd Ward, which was north of Lincoln Park in the plan presented to voters, was a significant change from what was presented at public hearings.

The 2nd Ward change kept most of the 43rd Ward intact - as residents from Lincoln Park had demanded at a contentious hearing last week.

Those last-minute changes, as well as tweaks that lessened the proposed changes to the 11th Ward that is the ancestral home of the Daley family, were completed after sunrise this morning, sources said.

The new map was drawn up by the Black Caucus and its allies. It was modified to bring on board the Latino Caucus and its allies, who had offered up its own Taxpayer Protection Map.

The compromise map has 17 wards with African American majorities, two fewer than currently, and 13 majority-Hispanic wards, an increase of three.

Sposato's new ward, now predominantly white, will have a Hispanic majority.

Ald. Toni Foulkes' 15th Ward, now predominantly African American, will have a Hispanic majority. She was not the only alderman not at the meeting.

Ald. Michael Zalewski's 23rd ward also will have a new Hispanic majority.

The eight aldermen who voted no: Ald. Robert Fioretti, 2nd; Ald. Roderick Sawyer, 6th; Ald. Michael Zalewski, 23rd; Ald. Michael Chandler, 24th; Ald. Rey Colon, 35th; Ald. Nicholas Sposato, 36th; Ald. Scott Waguespack, 32nd; Ald. John Arena, 45th. Ald. Toni Foulkes, 15th, was absent.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Local GovernmentElectionsPoliticsNicholas SposatoMichael ZalewskiToni FoulkesRobert Fioretti
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    Ald. Bob Fioretti, 2nd, left, in a heated exchange with Maria Guerra, of the Mayor's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, while Ald. Scott Waguespack, 32nd, listens. Both aldermen voted against the ward remap on Thursday.

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