Chicago aldermen have no money for libraries but millions for ward map fight | Bleader

Chicago aldermen have no money for libraries but millions for ward map fight


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I was in a pretty good mood when I woke up yesterday morning, but then I opened my Sun-Times and read that the aldermen are squabbling over the ward map.

Aw, shit—here we go again, to quote the great Kanye West.

Apparently, they can't settle on one map. And if they can't get at least 41 aldermen to agree on one map, we'll have a referendum to decide between two maps.

That will cost us about $30 million, which is up from the $20 million it cost us when we had a ward-map referendum ten years ago.

Not sure why the cost of running a ward-map referendum went up $10 million in ten years, or why it even cost so much ten years ago.

Maybe they ought to farm the referendum out to a charter school—they're pretty good at forcing their teachers to work for next to nothing.

In short, our aldermen think we can afford to spend $30 million on a ward map referendum, but we can't afford to spend it on libraries and mental health clinics.

By the way, your water-sewer tax will be going up big time over the next few years. Just thought I'd throw that in.

Anyway, the ward-map race boils down to a battle between black and Latino aldermen, with most white aldermen lining up with the black aldermen.

I guess that amounts to progress on the race-relations front. Back in the dinosaur days, when I moved to Chicago, black and white aldermen were at each others throats, while Latinos stayed on the sidelines looking to cut a deal with whichever group came out on top. (Hello, Congressman Gutierrez!)

Officially, Latino and black aldermen will tell you that they want the map to set aside wards with supermajorities of blacks or Latinos so that blacks or Latinos will have the predominant say in who gets elected.

Even though all aldermen—black, white, Latino, Asian—do whatever it is that the mayor tells them. So what difference does an alderman's race, creed or color really matter?

In fact, I'm thinking we should try a social experiment where voters have to vote for candidate of a different race or ethnicity.

Follow me on this—a white voter wouldn't be allowed to vote for a white candidate and a black voter wouldn't be allowed to vote for a black candidate, and a Latino candidate wouldn't be allowed to vote for a Latino candidate, etc. and so forth....

Of course, now that I think about it—whoever gets elected will still wind up doing whatever the mayor says.

Guess we're screwed no matter which way we go ...

One thing I think we all can agree on is that none of this has anything to do with protecting the interests of disadvantaged minorities, despite whatever rhetoric we might be hearing from black or Latino aldermen.

Instead, it's about protecting the interests of incumbent aldermen who want to stay in office by redrawing ward boundaries to include everyone likely to vote for them and exclude everyone who's not.

It's called political survival.

Curiously enough, the leader of the Latino aldermanic faction is Danny Solis, one of my favorite alderman on account of the fact that he almost always returns my calls.

What's up, Danny!

Back in April, Alderman Solis narrowly won reelection thanks to rock-solid support from the Chinese-American voters in Chinatown and the white American voters near the University of Illinois.

As for the Latino American voters in Pilsen, they mostly voted for Cuahutemoc Morfin. In short, if it were up to the Latino voters—whose interests Danny says he's looking out for—he'd have been defeated.

This, my friends, is a textbook example of irony that they might want to use in a literature class over at the United Neighborhood Organization Charter School empire. Thanks to Mayor Rahm, UNO keeps getting more and more public money to teach Latino students whose parents apparently don't want anything to do with Alderman Solis.

So, really folks, why waste a dime on this silliness? As I've suggested before, we should just divvy up the city into 50 wards without regard to ethnicity.

Let's spend the $30 million on things we need—like librarians, teachers, firefighters, and cops. You know, the people who do the real work around here.