Aldermen mixed on time needed for ward remap

December 9, 2011

By Michell Eloy

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Chicago aldermen are still debating new boundaries for the city's 50 wards.

At issue is how many black- and Hispanic-dominated wards there should be, in light of new census data. The data show city has lost nearly 180,000 African Americans, while the Hispanic population has grown by about 25,000 over the last decade.

A map was supposed to be done by Dec. 1 according to state law, but aldermen say they don't have the votes yet. Forty-one out of 50 aldermen need to agree on a map for it to pass.

Alderman Walter Burnett, who used to head City Council's Black Caucus, said tempers have cooled after some racially-charged debates earlier this week, and he added that the council will have a map soon.

"Hopefully before the weekend is over," said Burnett, who added aldermen were planning to meet Thursday night to further discuss the issue.

As the longest-serving member of the Chicago City Council, Alderman Edward Burke said he's sat through five ward remaps. He wasn't as optimistic about that time line.

"I think we are moving. I wouldn't say we're moving in large leaps," said Burke.

The city remaps its wards every 10 years.