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The City Council Just Secretly Redrew Your Ward

"The run-up to Thursday's City Council approval of a new ward map was quintessential Chicago politics," the Tribune reports.

"The deal - if not the details - had been largely finished the night before behind closed doors in a third-floor City Hall room that's no longer smoke-filled like it might have been a couple decades ago. Mapmakers pulled an all-nighter, tweaking the street boundaries to keep enough aldermen happy.

"As soon as the maps could be printed, aldermen were handed copies. Less than an hour later, as Mayor Rahm Emanuel led the proceedings, the map was rammed through 41-8. There was no public hearing on the final plan, and the lopsided vote followed a discussion focused far more on legal technicalities than impact on Chicago residents.

"Reform groups and opposing aldermen asked what the rush was, given that there's no city election until 2015."

The rush was that democracy just gets in the way. The last thing Mayor Rahm wanted was a prolonged discussion and a frank exchange of views. Rushing legislation through - just like this week's protest ordinance, hardly seen in its final version by aldermen and just like Mayor Richard M. Daley's parking meters lease - is a way to tamp down debate and stifle dissent. And if you think that changed with Mayor Transparency, I've got a public asset to sell you.

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"The Chicago City Council in November approved a resolution stating that it would conduct the ward redistricting in a 'transparent and accountable manner.' Today's vote was anything but what was promised," Brian Gladstein of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform said in a statement Thursday.

"Approving a map without any public comment on the final product, let alone the chance for residents to even see it, is totally unacceptable. The final map wasn't even made public until after the vote. This is not an example of open government. There is no justification for rushing to approve a map before the public had a chance to view it and provide feedback.

"Throughout the process, Chicagoans from all different backgrounds and wards asked the City Council to let them weigh in on the final proposal before it was passed. It appears those requests fell on deaf ears.

"Actions like today's rush to vote on a remap damage the public's faith in government and its elected officials. The City Council has let Chicago down."

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(See if your ward has changed.)

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From the tweetstream of Ald. Bob Fioretti:

the public should have seen it Rt "@allshiny: Thanks to @Fioretti2ndWard for trying to defer/publish today's #chicouncil #remap vote."

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"Unfortunately this map, despite numerous public hearings, was not one that the public was able to review and provide input," Ald. Roderick Sawyer wrote on his website.

"This map only benefits a few self-serving aldermen . . . There are numerous problems with the process. There was blatant disrespect for the outcome of the last election as certain individuals were determined to disregard the well-stated preferences of their community and allowed rules to be broken in the process.

"I left with an agreement on my map, with particular boundaries that, while not perfect represented what I worked for, only to receive a call this morning to find that my map had been unilaterally changed with no notice to me.

"This was done in spite of the fact that such an action is in clear violation of the rules set up to govern this process. There is no way that I could support such egregious actions that disrespected so many of the people who sent me to office, but it is a wake-up call about the priorities of certain individuals and exactly what they think of our community."

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From the tweetstream of Joe Macare:

So @DriXander heard an Alderman today say someone from UNO got more time in the map room than they had to see their own ward. #remap

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From the tweetstream of the ICPR as the committee was being called to order:

We still don't know what, exactly, the Council is supposed to consider. Really.

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Also from ICPR:

Mell noted numerous public hearings his #remap committee held, but none of those were on the exact plan being considered today #transparency

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From Greg Hinz's "Rahm Wins, Others Lose:"

"The final passage took all of 20 minutes - such a short time that one alderman quoted the old song, asking, 'Is that all there is?'"

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More from Hinz:

"The way the map was approved was 'borderline criminal,' Ald. Nicholas Sposato said. "'Our people didn't have any say. There's no doubt in my mind we will be sued and have to spend a lot of money.'"

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And this:

"The final vote that counted came when Mr. Mell agreed to roughly restore the lines of the Lincoln Park 43d Ward. That brought Alderman Michele Smith in line with the crucial 41st vote - and may deprive potential map challengers of big Lincoln Park cash to pay for a lawsuit.

"'I saved my neighborhood,' she said before casting her vote."

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Finally:

"Voting no were Aldermen Bob Fioretti (2nd), Roderick Sawyer (6th), Mike Zalewski (23rd), Michael Chandler (24th), Scott Waguespack (32nd), Rey Colon (35th), Mr. Sposato and John Arena (45th). Toni Foulkes (15th) did not vote.

"All other aldermen voted yes. Notably included was downtown Alderman Brendan Reilly (42nd), who passed on the initial roll call before determining at the last second that his 'yes' vote was needed."

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Comments welcome.



Permalink

Posted on January 20, 2012


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