The Chicago City Council failed on Thursday, after weeks of increasingly tense meetings, to arrive at a city ward remap plan that was able to gain the support of at least 41 aldermen.
The council's Latino Caucus, joined by eight white allies, on Thursday introduced their plan for a remapped Chicago ward map, a proposal that would feature 17 African-American wards, 17 white wards and 13 Hispanic wards. Meanwhile, the council's Black Caucus, backed by powerful veteran Alds. Richard Mell (33rd), Ed Burke (14th) and Pat O’Connor (40th), vowed to offer their own proposed remap that protects the current number -- 19 -- of black wards in the city, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
(View the Latino Caucus' remap proposal embedded below.)
The Latino Caucus is arguing that, because the city's African-American population has dropped significantly (by nearly 200,000) since 2000 and the city's Latino population has grown at the same time, the city's ward remap should be adjusted to more accurately reflect its rapidly changing demographics.
Ald. Danny Solis, the Latino Caucus's chair, told NBC Chicago that their plan was "fair" and would withstand any legal challenges that may arise.
Weighing in on the matter in a The Huffington Post blog Thursday, Ald. Joe Moreno (1st), a member of the Latino Caucus, described the ongoing remap process as "frustrating." The caucus's proposal, he said, brings the matter out "into the open" and allows the community to weigh in at last.
"The negotiations were stuck in an endless cycle and the constant self-imposed deadlines, which are always pushed back, are ridiculous," Moreno wrote. "We needed to introduce something; Chicagoans need to know where they stand now."
(Watch Solis and other members of the Latino Caucus discuss their proposed map below.)
The council's Black Caucus is expected to offer up their own map on Friday. Mell explained to the Chicago Tribune that, after the community is given some time to look at both proposals, the two maps will be voted on again by the council. If a majority of aldermen approve either map, it becomes official, but if a group of at least 10 aldermen band together to challenge a map, the issue could be turned over to either the voters or to the courts -- both likely expensive options.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has vowed to stay out of the matter, said Thursday that he is confident the council will remain "laser-focused" on arriving at a resolution that doesn't drag the matter into the courts. If the matter comes down to a court battle, as it did in 1990, it could cost Chicago taxpayers as much as $30 million.
The ongoing matter of the city's ward remap has gotten so heated that, at one point earlier this month, Mell reportedly got into a racially-charged spat with Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) which only cooled down after police intervened, the Sun-Times reported.