Shameful remap process

Though most city hall press coverage this week has focused on the mayor’s attempt to restrict the right to protest, alderman will also vote to remake Chicago’s political landscape this Thursday. The specific dimensions of the newly remapped wards, however, remain unknown to the public.

In one of the worst public planning processes I’ve ever seen, the City Council has engaged in a cover up of a nefarious process to slice and dice neighborhoods into self-serving political boundaries.

Two points of this article:

  • It has not been possible for residents to know which Ward they would live in with the new maps.
  • No one has explained what a “lawsuit worthy” map means. The map has to comply with the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Alderman Solis and other alderman have repeatedly stated that any map must be able to withstand a lawsuit.

“Bob from Lincoln Park”, a user on EveryBlock, has my thoughts exactly:

The City Council factions developed maps but never released versions that could be viewed at the ward and or street level and printed and shared. This was a cover-up in order to silence the citizenry. And the City Council was pushing this along at an unfair speed. The Documents were written in legalese and filed with the City Clerk on Dec 15 and 16, 2011 and the date the Council was planning to vote was Jan 18th, 2012! That was it. The local TV news stations have been practically silent.

Be careful if you read this post as it’s actually about criticism of a Medill Journalism School student and their allegedly shoddy principles of reporting. The reporter’s professor even chimes in and there’s an argument between the professor and “Bob from Lincoln Park”.

Latest news

  • January 17, 2012: It appears that alderman will agree on the Map for a Better Chicago, Roscoeview Journal.
  • January 18, 2012: “A parliamentary maneuver to put off an immediate vote [scheduled for Jan 19, 12] can be invoked by just two aldermen, Ald. Richard Mell, 33rd, noted Tuesday. If that happened, another meeting would be called for early next week, he said”, Chicago Tribune.
  • January 18, 2012: “Lincoln Park, which is almost entirely in the 43rd Ward, might be split among five wards, an idea that angers community members. Residents of Englewood, which long has been divided among six wards, have been pressing for a reduction to fewer wards. Chinatown residents, which is split among four wards, have been arguing for years that their community should be in a single ward.” via Medill Reports.
  • January 19, 2012: “Without comment and discussion, the #Chicago city council votes to approve the compromise #remap 41-8” via @kylehillman.


The City of Chicago is required by Illinois constitution to draw new Ward boundaries after each decennial census. Anyone is allowed to propose maps, to the City Clerk’s Office. A proposed map must receive 40 out of 50 votes to pass. If no map receives that many votes, then the maps would be put on a ballot in March 2012. Rules

New ward maps must comply with the Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965. I have no idea what this entails.


“Mell's goal is to get at least 41 votes, which would prevent any group of 10 aldermen from proposing an alternate remap plan. If an alternate were proposed, competing maps would be put before voters in a binding referendum”, Chicago Tribune.

From that I gather that Mell and other aldermen don't want voters to choose a new map, as they will likely choose the “wrong” map. And again, this message says the same thing: “City aldermen approve new ward map with enough votes to avoid referendum”. Mell says it's about money, though.

Then there's parliamentary-style fighting (via Chicago Sun-Times):

Aldermen Bob Fioretti (2nd) and Nick Sposato (36th), their political survival threatened, tried to “postpone the inevitable,” as Sposato put it, by exercising their right to postpone consideration of any matter for one meeting. But Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s forces used a parliamentary maneuver to prevent the delay. They were that determined to put the divisive issue to rest and to prevent the hard- fought deal from unraveling. “That may well become part of a lawsuit,” said Fioretti, who finds himself living in the newly drawn 28th Ward because of a bizarre, snakelike configuration that pushed the 2nd Ward as far north as Wrightwood to reunite Lincoln Park. Sposato, whose new ward would be 61.2 percent Hispanic, blasted his colleagues for using heavy-handed tactics to ram through a map that the public has not seen and was still sing modified hours before the vote.



The City Council Rules Committee held multiple hearings. List them here:

  • DePaul. This meeting was over capacity and many people were unable to get in. Waiting for Bill’s comments.


Some alderman held their own meetings. Who were they?

  • Ward 25/Alderman Solis. Waiting for Bill’s comments.


There were 5 maps submitted to and accepted by the City Clerk’s office. The “winning map” was not submitted to the Clerk's office until after it was voted on and approved, 41-8 (who's the missing 50th vote?). According to the Clerk's office communiqué, which is based on something Alderman Mell said (see process below), since the map didn't come out of the Rules Committee, the Illinois Constitution doesn't require that the map be submitted to the Clerk's office before voting.

Winning map

Brand new, January 20, 2012: Chicago Tribune News Apps team posts interactive old/new ward finder.

And here for your viewing pleasure (better get a magnifying glass), is the official and indiscernible new Ward boundaries map for millions of Chicagoans that none got to see before it was voted on. What a shameful group of alderman we have. Provided by the Clerk's office at 1306h (tweet) on Thursday, January 19, 2012. See the file in the Chicago Legistar Legislative Information Center, SO-2012-582.

The "winning" 2012 remap. Also see the map on Flickr.

Where do you live?

It's hard to tell. These people are trying to figure out where Logan Square is now.

Nate Lynch made a better map, with readable street names overlaid.

They are...

  • MALDEF Chicago Equity Map (MALDEF) by the Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund
  • Taxpayer Protection Map (TPM) by the Latino Caucus
  • Map For a Better Chicago (FABC) by the Black Caucus
  • New Wards of Chicago (NWC) by Pro Bono Thinking Society
  • Enrique Perez's map. “Enrique Perez, the former Aldermanic candidate in 2011 for the 2nd Ward, is crying foul over the process for redistricting all while submitting his own map in a desperate stunt that has no hope of succeeding.” via Welles Park Bulldog.

Amended map

Breaking at 1041h on 19 Jan 2012: “This is what we get in the #remap process: cellphone camera images of a printed display (this one has streets on it!) Photo 1” (my tweet). Image originally posted to Alderman Solis's Twitter account.

And at 1049h: “AWESOME, a less-skewed cellphone image of #remap! RT @AldermanSolis: Still a poor image but a different perspective. Photo 2” (my tweet).

Amended map being shown to City Council as this was being published, to be voted on today.

Issues with publication

2 of the 4 maps were submitted by competing City Council caucuses. The other 2 maps have 0 aldermanic support.

At no time has any Aldermanic-supported map been published with street or landmark names making it so that citizens are unable to see which Ward they would be “moving to”.

Local designer Nate Lynch was the first to attempt to make sense of the maps. He used Photoshop to overlay the map as best he could on Google Maps. Later, WBEZ was able to obtain geographic data for the MALDEF and TPM maps and published interactive maps of existing wards, and the MALDEF, TPM, and NWC maps.

The Pro Bono Thinking was the first to create and publish a map, back in September 2011, and included their analysis, rationale, raw input data, and raw output data. They laid out their goals clearly.

Social Media

Conversations with Kyle Hillman

Kyle: Political Consultant, Huff-Post Blogger, Community Organizer, Policy Wonk, Techie, Planner, Coffee Addict, Problem Solver, Actor, Baller-but not a Shot Caller.

  1. Me: @kylehillman Was there any purpose to #remap hearings? Did they have any impact or influence?
  2. Kyle: @stevevance sure, Lincoln Park clearly wouldn't have been in the negotiations without their strong showing.
  3. Kyle: @stevevance It gives MALDEF and other well funded groups grounds for a lawsuit, and allows alderman to hear public input.
  4. Then @johnc6955: @stevevance @kylehillman Steve, I think it helped for 43rd and 11th Wards but not the 2nd and 36th. The difference…clout and vet Alderman.
  5. @stevevance It also strengthened community support for some alderman.

City Clerk Susana Mendoza

The @chicityclerk Twitter account, operated by Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza, who was elected, has been the best source of real-time information on the #remap process, since the beginning.

My conversations

  1. @chicityclerk Can your office do more to receive #remaps faster? Also, must maps be submitted to your office before being voted on?
  2. @stevevance We post as soon as we rcv - w/i 1 hour of rcving. (scan in first, then post)
  3. @stevevance Ald. Burke says because not a cmte report state law does not apply #remap #chicouncil
  4. @chicityclerk Ah, the old argument: letter of law versus intention of law. Thanks!

Her Tweets, a selection

  • Roll call on the map underway. Motion passes. Reilly late vote yes. Wages pack late vote no. 41-8. (RTd; original by @ChiCityCouncil)
  • Many comments re: lack of transparency in this #remap. Contact your Alderman and let them know what you think.
  • @chicagosmayor gives closing comments saying that attention should be given to schools, addressing violence, etc., not political boundaries. (RTd; original by @ChicagosMayor)
  • We are working to get compromised map up on LIC ASAP, will keep u updated and send link once live! #remap #chicouncil
  • 8 Ald. Voted No, Vote Count and Map to be posted ASAP on chicityclerk LIC RT @RoderickTSawyer: I voted No on the map 41-8 #ChiCouncil


  • Via @whitneywoodard: @johnfritchey Ha! Given the technicolors used on the final ward map, I assume Joseph had a role in its creation. #chicago #remap [referencing the winning map.]
  • via @bscan27: Few Aldermen promote their wards as well as @Fioretti2ndWard. It's sad that he no longer represents the West and South Loop #TerribleRemap [referencing the fact that Ward 2 is now in a completely different part of the city]
  • Alderman Fioretti of the 2nd Ward is getting a lot of support on Twitter. He voted against the new map.

Things to watch


/home/stevevance/ · Last modified: 2012/01/19 22:11 by stevevance
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