Four more city committees using 2015 ward boundaries
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter email@example.com March 18, 2013 2:22PM
Ald. Nick Sposato (36th). File Photo | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times
Updated: April 20, 2013 6:27AM
Four more City Council committees are now recognizing Chicago’s new ward boundaries when it comes to making pivotal decisions impacting, traffic, transportation, housing and licensing, infuriating endangered incumbents, who claim their voters are being “disenfranchised.”
Two months ago, Zoning Committee Danny Solis (25th) sent a letter to his colleagues informing them of his decision to implement the new boundaries.
Solis said he would continue to honor the longstanding tradition of “deferring to the aldermen of the ward in which a zoning change or sign order” is located. But, that political deference would now go to the new alderman — not the old one.
The Zoning Committee chairman said he made the decision to end a year of political limbo in response to complaints from developers who “wanted to start doing business” in Chicago, but were “confused about who to talk to.”
Now, the chairmen of four more City Council committees have followed Solis’ lead: Housing and Real Estate; License and Consumer Protection; Pedestrian and Traffic Safety, and Transportation and the Public Way.
Ald. Nick Sposato (36th) accused his colleagues of disenfranchising voters and overruling the legal advice outlined in a Feb. 2, 2012, memorandum written by Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton.
In it, Patton cited legal precedent and wrote, “These cases establish that the 2011 aldermanic elections were for full, four-year terms notwithstanding the intervening redistricting and that these aldermen represent the constituencies which elected them. ... Applicable law provides that the 2001 map, which was in effect for the 2011 aldermanic elections, should govern for the duration of the those four-year terms.”
Sposato is one of a handful of incumbent aldermen endangered by a map that cut the heart out of his Northwest Side ward and nearly doubled its Hispanic population — from 32 percent to 61.2 percent.
“I was elected to represent people and now they’re taking me away from those people and assigning the people who elected me to somebody else. This is illegal and wrong. It’s not fair to the people,” Sposato said.
“Bob [Fioretti (2nd) ] goes from 37th and King Drive to Wrightwood and Greenview. I go from East River Road and Lawrence to Kedvale and Grand. That’s 9.5 miles for me. They’re breaking the law.”
Fioretti finds himself living in the newly redrawn 28th Ward because his old ward was shifted to the North Side in one of the most bizarre configurations the city has ever seen.
“It is unconstitutional. It is a de-facto representation of other people. We’re exploring the legal possibility of what can be done here,” Fioretti said.
“We’re hearing from constituents — not just ours but everybody else about who elected who aldermen. We have been elected to represent our boundaries until 2015. That is clear. The corporation even says that.”
Sposato, Fioretti, Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) and several of their colleagues in the Progressive Caucus are now demanding that Patton and the mayor’s office clarify the “potential legal ramifications” of the decision by five committee chairman to “ignore results” of the 2011 election.
“The system is not ready for it. When I put in 311 requests, I can only input things under the new map, but I can’t track it. I can only track requests from the original 6th Ward. It doesn’t make sense” to switch, Sawyer said Monday.
Last year, the Chicago Sun-Times reported there was widespread confusion among aldermen about when the new boundaries take effect.
At the time, some aldermen were racing to curry favor with their new voters in hopes of boosting their prospects in the 2015 election. Others were ignoring the new boundaries and servicing the voters who brought them to the dance.
At issue were such pivotal neighborhood decisions as zoning changes, liquor license moratoriums, city service requests and the $66 million-a-year program that allows aldermen to choose from a menu of neighborhood improvements.