Chicago aldermen will sit for a final public meeting Wednesday before moving ahead with plans to re-draw the city's ward boundaries - perhaps as soon as Thursday. This comes after the City Council's Hispanic Caucus took a private vote in support a compromise plan.
At a City Hall hearing Tuesday afternoon, Rules Committee Chair Dick Mell (33rd) - the leader of the redistricting process - told a crowd of concerned residents that no one will be happy with the final map, not even the aldermen.
"We'll have to make new friends in a lot of cases, and make new constituents," Mell said. "And we'll lose a lot of old constituents, and a lot of old friends."
Mell has been working behind the scenes to craft a compromise that would win support from 41 aldermen, enough to avoid sending the issue to voters in a referendum. He said Tuesday afternoon that he'd reach that number if the council's Latino Caucus signed on.
And in a meeting that evening, the eight Hispanic aldermen came to an agreement, according to the caucus' chair, 25th Ward Ald. Danny Solis.
"They said they would support it," Solis said in an interview following the meeting. "The only issue that was a little bit still in question [was] timing."
Solis said some members of the caucus wanted to delay a vote on the map until next week, but he said that would not be a dealbreaker.
The full City Council is scheduled to vote on the map in a special meeting on Thursday, immediately following a Rules Committee meeting. But if two or more aldermen use a parliamentary maneuver to "defer and publish," the vote could be delayed a week or longer.
The compromise now under discussion is based largely on a proposal originally put forward by the council's Black Caucus, but there has been tinkering to some boundaries. It would include 13 wards where Hispanics make up a comfortable majority of the voting age population, and 18 for black Chicagoans.
Solis also said he believes a "majority" of the eight white aldermen who signed on to his caucus' original proposal - including Alds. John Pope, James Balcer (11th) and Michele Smith (43rd) - would support the compromise, making Mell's quest for 41 votes all the easier.
That new map has not been made public or filed with the city clerk's office. But, according to Solis, the Hispanic aldermen want to make details of it available during Wednesday night's hearing at North-Grand High School on the city's West Side.