by Ben Joravsky
The bad news is that Mayor Emanuel's not going to use any of these savings to add staff to the libraries and reopen them on Sundays and Mondays like libraries in such civilized societies as, oh, the mayor's hometown of Wilmette.
'Cause what fun is it being the mayor if you can't screw the little people of your city?
Back to the ward map....
Whenever I mention ward redistricting, people ask: What's that all about, anyway?
I realize that people in Chicago don't really know much about the government that runs their lives, leaving the mayor free to do whatever he wants no matter how idiotic, like, to cite just one example, bringing the G8 and Nato summit to town.
I mean, Mayor E—just what were you smoking when you came up with that great idea? And I hope you were smoking it in Evanston, where, if busted, you'd only get a fine.
As opposed to smoking it in Chicago, where they'd throw your ass in jail.
Oh, wait, you're white. Don't worry about it, Mayor Emanuel....
Back to the ward map....
As you would have learned in your high school social studies class had you not been sleeping, legislative districts, in this case wards, are supposed to have roughly the same number of residents. That way the wards with fewer people don't get "more" representation than the wards with more people.
Though in Chicago, it doesn't really matter which ward has how many people since the rich wards are going to get most of the goodies anyway, as we've learned from our Tax Increment Financing program.
That bit about the rich getting the goodies is a lesson about Chicago that they probably didn't teach you in social studies because—in social studies as in life—the good shit's generally off the record....
Anyway, every ten years, the city council readjusts the boundaries of the 50 wards to account for changes in demographics.
Over the last decade, Chicago's black population declined by roughly 212,000 people. Why? They either were a.) priced out by rampant gentrification; b.) moved out by Mayor Daley's tear-down-the-projects-and-get-the-black-people-out-of-town effort; or c.) left on their own, as any intelligent person might want to leave a city run by jugglers and clowns.
Thank you, Bobby D!
So now the black aldermen are trying to stretch the existing black populations in such a way as to create supermajority black wards.
Those are wards so heavily black that if all the white people voted for one candidate—presumably a white one—there'd still be enough black people leftover to guarantee the election of a black candidate. Presumably, the incumbent.
Even though it really doesn't matter whether the aldermen is black, white, Hispanic or Asian—he or she is going to do whatever the mayor says. As I may have told you more than a few times before.
So the black aldermen got together and came up with a map that twists and turns ward boundaries to create 18 supermajority black wards.
That map, as absurdly shaped as it is, has been supported by most of the aldermen largely because aldermen Richard Mell and Patrick O'Connor—the mayor's floor leaders on this matter—told them to support it.
And why are O'Connor and Mell supporting the black aldermen's map? Because they don't want to be called racists by their black colleagues.
They're pretty sensitive to that charge on account of the whole Council Wars thing....
Time-out for a history lesson for readers too young to remember or for old ones who'd rather forget.
In 1983, Chicago voters elected Harold Washington, the greatest mayor this town's ever known!
Yet Mell, O'Connor, and almost all the other white aldermen opposed him largely because he was black. Yet another lesson about Chicago they're not likely to teach in high school social studies, especially those in the mayor's favorite charters.
So in order to compensate for the stupid stuff they did in the 1980s, they're doing more stupid stuff today.
'Cause as we all know—stupid never goes out of style in Chicago.
Enjoy your aldermen, people—you elected them.