On Monday the Chicago city council finally approved a new Ward map as required in the wake of the latest census. If you’ve been following this story you’ll know that it was a knock down drag out fight in true Chicago fashion with lots of back room dealings and back stabbing – otherwise known as compromises. If you want to see the map and find out how different neighborhoods got divided up I found this Chicago Tribune page to be the most user friendly and authoritative source.
Before I go any further let me assure you that I understand that
- There were many competing interests here and they had to compromise
- The final map was less bad than some of the other proposals
- The previous map had lots of problems also
The map proves that Republicans do not have a monopoly on gerrymandering. There are some pretty weird shapes here – especially my new ward 36. WTF!
The underlying problem is that the entire process focused on creating ethnically segregated wards. That’s right. The aldermen unapologetically wanted ethnic majority wards in order to preserve their own power and apparently this type of segregation is OK. Personally, I find it offensive. It assumes that people’s political interests should align more closely with their ethnicity than their neighbors.
At least in West Town this notion was firmly rejected by 4 community groups who signed onto a letter to the Rules Committee expressing support for an earlier proposal: “For the first time in many years, the map as proposed brings our neighborhoods together. We appreciate that you have taken our input and drawn boundaries for the 1st Ward that will significantly aid our neighborhoods in planning, public safety, and responsible development for the next ten years.” Clearly these community groups recognized that organizing along common, local interests makes a hell of a lot more sense than organizing along ethnic lines.
Unfortunately their plea was not honored and now I and my neighbors are lumped together with people in Montclare while our neighbors a few blocks east are in a totally different ward. And we’re not the only neighborhood that got carved up. Englewood is split into 5 wards – I think it was six previously. How does any of this make sense?
Gary Lucido is the President of Lucid Realty, the Chicago area’s full service real estate brokerage that offers home buyer rebates and discount commissions. If you want to keep up to date on the Chicago real estate market or get an insider’s view of the seamy underbelly of the real estate industry you can Subscribe to Getting Real by Email using the form below. Please be sure to verify your email address when you receive the verification notice.