Well, we now have a new city council map. And some new ordinances governing how we’ll all behave while our NATO and G-8 guests are in town. So we invited Elizabeth Brackett from Chicago Tonight (WTTW) and Andrew Patner (Critical Thinking and Critic’s Choice on WFMT) to help us sort it all out.
Has there been an outbreak of democracy in the hallowed halls of city council? Yes, comparatively speaking, says Brackett – especially if compared to the Daley era.
Whether by democratic process or not, the aldermen came up with 41 votes today, and the new compromise map is adopted. But in order to find new Hispanic-majority wards, which were the key to passage, some aldermen had to pay a heavy price. In many cases, their wards were moved miles away from their homes and constituents. In others, lines were severely redrawn so that a majority Hispanic population could be drawn in.
And in one dramatic case, Alderman Sposato, elected only a few months ago as a reformer in a once strong machine ward, pretty much lost all the people who elected him.
But as Alderman Mell, who ran the process, often told jeering crowds, the aldermen don’t want redistricting any more than constituents want to be carved out of their home wards. But when Chicago’s population declines as much as it did in the past decade – almost a quarter of a million people – the Voting Rights Act demands that districts be redrawn.
Also on the show – a brief discussion about President Obama’s decision to cancel (at least for now) the Keystone XL pipeline.