Breakthrough on Chicago remap deal?

January 11, 2012

Download Story
(WBEZ file/Charlie Billups)
Ald. Danny Solis chairs the council's Latino Caucus.

The head of the Chicago City Council's Latino Caucus said on Wednesday that a deal is closer than ever before on the contentious re-drawing of ward boundaries. The possible breakthrough comes after a compromise offer was extended to break the stalemate.

Ald. Danny Solis (22nd), the Latino Caucus chair, said he got a call on Tuesday from Ald. Pat O'Connor (40th), a Mayor Rahm Emanuel ally who's been closely involved in the mapping. Solis said the proposal includes much of a map drawn by the council's Black Caucus, but said it appears to roughly meet his demand that Hispanics get comfortable majorities in 13 wards.

Solis said he thinks his caucus would accept the compromise, if they're confident it would survive a lawsuit.

"We want...an expert to come in who has analyzed maps like this across the country - to come analyze and evaluate the map, and then tell us we would be avoiding that," Solis said.

The Latino Caucus next meets on Friday.

The new offer focused on the Southwest Side's 23rd ward. Now represented by a white alderman, Mike Zalewski, Hispanics would represent more than 60 percent of the voting age population under the new boundaries.

The Black Caucus chair, 21st Ward Ald. Howard Brookins, said he "absolutely" supports the compromise, and doesn't have a problem with Solis' demand for a legal review. Neither does O'Connor.

"It's always been anticipated that we would have some indication from a competent authority that [the final] map...is defensible," O'Connor said.

The council could vote on a map as early as its meeting on January 18th.

"I think [a vote then] is a real potential, but I'm not going to hurry the process through some sort of an artificial deadline," O'Connor said. "If it's not ready, it's not ready."

Public hearings on previously introduced map proposals begin Wednesday night, with a meeting in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Another is scheduled for Thursday in Bridgeport.