Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he's staying out of the contentious debate over new boundaries for Chicago wards - at least for now. He made the comments Thursday as aldermen struggle to compromise.
Aldermen and their lawyers have been meeting, trying to figure out how many black and Latino-dominated wards to draw and how many incumbents' jobs will be saved. Emanuel has avoided leaving his fingerprint on the back-room dealings.
"They need to work through this issue," Emanuel told reporters. "If I'm required to do something, I will."
Not that he wants to.
"I don't need to be the referee on that process - and I don't mean that word that way," he said. "But I don't need to work through that process, when I have so much more work to do."
If the new ward map doesn't win support from 41 out of the 50 aldermen, the question could be thrown to voters in a referendum, and the courts.
"Do I have confidence in the end of the day they're going to get to an agreed-upon map? I do," Emanuel said.
Key aldermen continue their negotiations in a meeting Thursday evening.
"We'll work through it," said 21st Ward Ald. Howard Brookins, chair of the council's Black Caucus. "I just don't know how soon."
Brookins noted early Thursday afternoon that he had not yet been shown a draft city-wide map by the chair of the council's Rules Committee, 33rd Ward Ald. Dick Mell.
Illinois law directs the full council to approve a map by December 1, but aldermen see some leeway in the deadline.
Current Ward Map
Source: Map was created using KML data from the City of Chicago's data portal site