FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nov. 2, 2011
CONTACT: Whitney Woodward
Groups ask City government to go beyond resolution by engaging residents, forgoing politics as usual in 2011 ward remapping
CHICAGO – A coalition of civil rights and public policy organizations supports a plan aimed at giving Chicago residents a chance to monitor the redrawing of the city’s 50 wards, but said the resolution, which will be considered at Wednesday’s City Council meeting, doesn’t go far enough.
The redistricting transparency resolution, which was approved by the City Council committee charged with overseeing Chicago’s once-in-a-decade remapping process Tuesday, mandates six preliminary hearings on redistricting and one public meeting on any draft ward map to be presented to the full City Council.
But the Illinois Campaign for Accountable Redistricting (ICAR), a coalition of civil rights and public policy non-profit organizations working for a more transparent and accountable redistricting process, said aldermen need to take more steps to ensure Chicago residents can participate meaningfully in the process. ICAR is comprised of the Asian American Institute, Citizen Advocacy Center, the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, the Latino Policy Forum, the League of Women Voters of Illinois, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF).
“The Council should require more public hearings on draft maps with ample opportunity for the public to study the proposal and provide comments,” said ICAR Member Elisa Alfonso, Midwest Redistricting Coordinator for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). “Increased public involvement and prohibiting consideration of what candidates will be helped or hurt by new boundary lines would dispel notions that aldermen are choosing voters rather than voters selecting their own representatives.”
The redrawing of boundaries for Chicago’s 50 wards must take place following each decennial census, to account for population shifts and maintain the principle of “one person, one vote,” in addition to complying with the federal Voting Rights Act. In past decades, the remapping process has been conducted out of public view.
ICAR has asked aldermen to hold at least five public hearings, with two weeks’ notice, on any draft ward map to be considered by the City Council.
“Transparency and public participation are essential to a fair and accountable process of redistricting,” said ICAR Member Margaret Herring, President of the League of Women Voters of Chicago. “Transparency ensures that Chicago residents have access to information about the remapping of Chicago wards and encouraging public participation offers Chicago residents the opportunity to weigh in on this important process.”
The resolution, sponsored by Ald. Richard Mell (33rd Ward), also mandates that the Committee on Committees, Rules and Ethics make redistricting computer terminals available to the public so residents can draw their own maps, and provide an explanation of any full redistricting plan considered by the City Council. However, the resolution does not prohibit use of political considerations in map drawing. ICAR believes that aldermen should not consider their home addresses, or that of likely opponents, when drawing ward boundaries.
“This resolution is a step in the right direction, but falls short of guaranteeing Chicago residents ample opportunities to monitor and contribute fully to the redrawing of their wards,” said Whitney Woodward, policy associate with the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. “Redistricting should be about protecting voter rights, not protecting incumbents. The City Council can show the people of Chicago that they come first by engaging with the public on this important issue and producing a map that truly reflects community interests.”
About the Illinois Campaign for Accountable Redistricting (ICAR)
ICAR is a coalition of public policy and civil rights organizations composed of the Asian American Institute, Citizen Advocacy Center, Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, Latino Policy Forum, League of Women Voters of Illinois, and Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The coalition works to ensure accountability, transparency, and accessibility to the redistricting process. For additional information, visit ICAR's website http://www.drawthelineillinois.org.
The Public Hearings on the City of Chicago's 2011 Redistricting Process are:
Thursday, November 3
North- Grand High School (Auditorium)
4338 West Wabansia
6:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
South Shore International College Prep High School (Gym)
1955 East 75th Street
6:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Morgan Park High School (Auditorium)
1744 West Pryor
6:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Whitney Young High School (Library)
211 South Laflin Street
6:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
City Council Chambers
City Hall, 121 North LaSalle, 2nd Floor
10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.