WBEZ | C.W. Chan http://www.wbez.org/tags/cw-chan Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Illinois law aims to protect minority voter rights http://www.wbez.org/story/cw-chan/illinois-law-aims-protect-minority-voter-rights <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/quinn 001.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Minority group advocates say Illinois took a big step Monday toward protecting their political voices with the signing of the Illinois Voting Rights Act of 2011.</p><p>&ldquo;The rules in the districts are gerrymandered so they are rigged against anyone who may have a group in a particular area,&rdquo; said Governor Pat Quinn at the bill signing in Chicago&rsquo;s Chinatown. &ldquo;One of the purposes of the law is to make sure our racial minorities, our language minorities, our citizens who live in a particular area, get a fair chance to elect the person of their choice.&rdquo;</p><p>The law was introduced by State Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, after both Republicans and Democrats failed to rewrite the laws that govern legislative redistricting. Both parties proposed competing amendments to the state constitution to avoid what happened the last three times the lines were drawn: partisan deadlocks forced legislators to choose either a Democrat or a Republican from a hat, literally, and the winner drew the map.</p><p>Chinatown community leaders praised the new law, which they had lobbied for in Springfield. C.W. Chan of the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community, said when Illinois redistricted in the past, Chinatown became a textbook case of how concentrated minority populations could be marginalized.</p><p>&ldquo;Despite meeting all criteria for inclusion in a single district, like compactness, contiguity, and being a community of interest,&rdquo; said Chan, &ldquo;we are nevertheless not protected by any law as we do not have the magic number of the voting age majority.&rdquo;</p><p>Chan hopes the new law will help Chinese-Americans on Chicago&rsquo;s South Side fall into fewer legislative and representative districts. Currently, they are divided between four wards, four state representative districts, three state senate districts, and three Congressional districts. Community leaders say that has made it difficult to lobby for the government services and resources that their immigrant community needs.</p><div style="background-color: transparent; ">&nbsp;</div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 07 Mar 2011 23:55:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/cw-chan/illinois-law-aims-protect-minority-voter-rights Chicago gets first Asian-American alderman http://www.wbez.org/story/47th-ward/chicago-gets-first-asian-american-alderman <p><div>Asian-Americans say they&rsquo;re proud to see one of their own finally win a seat on Chicago&rsquo;s City Council, and that the electoral success &nbsp;was inevitable because their community is growing at a fast rate.&nbsp;Thirty-year-old Ameya Pawar unexpectedly toppled the 47<sup>th</sup> Ward&rsquo;s political establishment when he won the aldermanic race outright, with close to 51 percent of the vote.&nbsp;He will replace longtime alderman Eugene Schulter, who dropped his candidacy just weeks before the vote.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Pawar says he will always keep his door open to Asian-American constituents, but that his ethnicity played no role during his campaign. &ldquo;It didn't come up at all,&rdquo; said Pawar, &ldquo;because I think people were generally just interested in why I was running, what my plans were, and how I planned on implementing things.&rdquo; <span>Pawar was born in the U.S.; his parents hail from India. </span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Still, Pawar says if it hadn&rsquo;t been for support from within Chicago&rsquo;s Asian-American community, he could very well have lost. In particular, he credits the <a href="http://www.iado.org/">Indo-American Democratic Organization</a>, a 30-year-old group that promotes political participation within Chicago&rsquo;s Indian American population. &ldquo;They&rsquo;ve been instrumental,&rdquo; said Pawar. &ldquo;I think when they came on board and they endorsed me, it was sort of a tipping point. We got a lot of support right afterwards.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Many political aspirants of Asian origin have tried to crack the glass ceiling before Pawar. But this election saw more than any recent Chicago election, says Tuyet Le of the <a href="http://www.aaichicago.org/">Asian-American Institute</a>. Le counted six candidates in aldermanic races throughout the city who claim Asian roots.&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The latest census results show that while the city&rsquo;s overall population decreased about seven percent between 2000 and 2010, Chicago&rsquo;s Asian-American population increased by 17 percent, making it one of the fastest-growing minority groups in the city. Le said it was just a question of time before that translated into a growth in the number of Asian-Americans seeking political office.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>But many did not expect this breakthrough would happen in, of all places, a far North Side ward that encompasses Ravenswood and Lincoln Square.&nbsp;&ldquo;(Ward) 47 has an Asian population,&rdquo; said C.W. Chan of the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community, &ldquo;but (it&rsquo;s) not even predominant, or not even having a sizeable number like many, many other wards.&rdquo;&nbsp;According to the Asian-American Institute, the 50<sup>th</sup>, 25<sup>th</sup>, and 11<sup>th</sup> Wards had the highest percentages of Asian-Americans in the 2000 census.</div> <p>Another one-time political aspirant of South Asian descent hoped Pawar&rsquo;s victory is a sign of things to come. Raja Krishnamoorthi galvanized Illinois&rsquo;s Asian-American community when he ran last year for state comptroller. He lost in the Democratic primary, but he says his campaign, and Pawar&rsquo;s big step are signs of the Asian-American community&rsquo;s political maturation.&nbsp;&ldquo;I think that this is a really great indication of increasing political participation by Asian-Americans,&rdquo; said Krishnamoorthi, &ldquo;and I think everyone in Chicago can take joy in that.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 23 Feb 2011 23:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/47th-ward/chicago-gets-first-asian-american-alderman Chinatown closer to new field house, library http://www.wbez.org/story/25th-ward/chinatown-closer-new-field-house-library <p><p>Chinatown residents are inching closer to winning some city resources that they&rsquo;ve lobbied for during the last several years.&nbsp;Chicago&rsquo;s City Council <a href="http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/news.detail/object_id/00c4ff41-589f-47dd-93df-17a5e68a8219.cfm">allocated funding</a> in September for a new field house to replace one that was torn down nearly 50 years ago. More recently, the <a href="http://www.chipublib.org/">Chicago Public Library</a> and city officials identified a site for a new library branch and have started moving to acquire the property.&nbsp;The progress comes just as Chinese-Americans observe their 100-year anniversary in Chicago&rsquo;s South Side Chinatown.</p><p>The field house has been a particular sore point for young and elderly Chinatown residents alike. &ldquo;When I started fighting for this thing I had children,&rdquo; said Leonard Louie, President of the Ping Tom Memorial Park Advisory Council. &ldquo;And I think today my grandchildren are old enough to be able to use it. That's how long it's been.&rdquo;</p> <div>Louie himself used to play basketball at the old field house at Hardin Park, before the state tore it down in 1962 to expand the Dan Ryan Expressway. At the time, said Louie, Chinatown residents were promised that they&rsquo;d soon get another field house. Instead, Louie and other residents say children now often play volleyball over sidewalk fences, because there&rsquo;s no proper facility or community center. &ldquo;It's definitely a problem because you just have kids hanging out on the street and looking for things to do,&rdquo; said Louie. &ldquo;You're in a situation where you're just asking for trouble.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The Chicago City Council approved a $10 million allocation from the <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/dcd/tif/narratives/T_037_RiverSouthFA.pdf">River South TIF District</a> to finally build the facility near the southern end of <a href="http://pingtompark.org/Welcome%20to%20Ping%20Tom%20Park.html">Ping Tom Memorial Park</a>.&nbsp;At that price, park leaders will likely have to pare back their original vision for the facility.&nbsp;&ldquo;The original plans for the field house were to include a natatorium, which is an indoor swimming pool,&rdquo; said Louie.&nbsp;But park district officials estimate that could cost anywhere from $15 million to $18 million. More recent field houses, like the <a href="http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/parks.results.cfm">Taylor-Lauridsen Playground Park</a> and <a href="http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/parks.detail/object_id/cc227392-429c-42df-adec-bdb4023e94de.cfm">Jesse Owens Park</a>, did not include swimming pools, and ran just below $10 million. Still, Louie hopes whatever the city builds could be expanded to include a swimming pool later. He and other park leaders are also exploring the possibility of raising additional money to fund the natatorium.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Calls for a new library have also reached the right ears. Though the current Chinatown library is far from large, it has among the highest circulation rates in the city. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a very literate community,&rdquo; said Chicago Public Library spokesman Ruth Lednicer.&nbsp;For a long time, movement toward building a larger and newer facility was stymied by an inability to find a proper site. But now Chinatown and city officials agree that a privately-owned lot on the southwest corner of Wentworth Ave and Archer Ave holds enough space.&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Right now, the parcel holds a parking lot and a small grocery store, both owned by the same person. The city&rsquo;s development committee recently approved a preliminary move to acquire the property through eminent domain.&nbsp;That matter is expected to come before the City Council at its meeting on February 9.&nbsp;But officials will also continue to negotiate with the property owner, who expressed an interest in jointly developing the land with the city to include a library.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Meanwhile, <a href="http://www.dannysolis.org/">Alderman Daniel Solis</a> (25th Ward) said he&rsquo;s working on getting a TIF district approved to fund the construction of the library.&nbsp;&ldquo;Specifically how much, it&rsquo;s too early to tell,&rdquo; said Solis. &ldquo;But the TIF would also look at opening up opportunities for other developments in the area.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>These developments are perhaps some of the early fruits of a recent political awakening in Chicago&rsquo;s Chinatown.&nbsp;C.W. Chan, a founder of the <a href="http://www.caslservice.org/">Chinese American Service League</a>, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/news/politics/chinatown-looks-centennial-aims-political-clout">told WBEZ</a> in May that as the Chinese-American population in Chinatown and its surrounding areas grew quickly during the last twenty years, the community&rsquo;s needs grew, too. &ldquo;Recently the community has really been working very hard together to really take an inventory of our community needs,&rdquo; said Chan, &ldquo;and to see whether we can really have a much better working relationship with our elected officials to present our needs and to secure the kind of resources that we need in the community.&rdquo; &nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 21 Jan 2011 21:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/25th-ward/chinatown-closer-new-field-house-library