Ald. Balcer fights to keep 11th Ward intact in council remap
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org December 8, 2011 3:08PM
Updated: January 10, 2012 8:23AM
Ald. Jim Balcer (11th) said Thursday he’s “fighting feverishly to keep my ward in tact” after the City Council’s Black Caucus drafted a new map that preserves 18 black wards at the expense of the 11th Ward — the political power base of the Daley family.
“I want my ward kept in tact. I’m fighting feverishly,” said Balcer, chairman of the City Council’s Committee on Public Safety.
“They’ve been in that ward a long time and they’ve been my supporters, and I want them to continue being my supporters.”
African-Americans have been trying desperately to minimize their losses despite a 181,453-person drop in Chicago’s black population in the 2010 U.S. Census.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported earlier this week that the Black Caucus has drafted a new ward map that preserves 18 of 19 black wards in a way that would have been unthinkable during Richard M. Daley’s 22-year reign.
The 11th Ward, cradle of Chicago mayors and political power base of the Daley family, would lose nearly 60 percent of its current population, including Canaryville and McKinley Park. Instead of a near equal mix of whites, Hispanics and Asian-Americans, the new 11th Ward would be 92 percent white.
The heavy turnover would make it very difficult for Balcer to get re-elected. Daley’s brother, County Commissioner John Daley, is the 11th Ward’s Democratic committeeman.
Sources said the Black Caucus map remains a “work in progress” because mapmakers “don’t know where to put” nearly 80,000 white residents in two “over-populated” wards: the 2nd and 42nd.
On Thursday, former Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th), an attorney representing the Black Caucus, denied that black aldermen had chopped up the 11th Ward because Richard M. Daley is no longer in office to protect it.
“That was never a consideration. Our guy has no idea of the political dynamics of Chicago. He’s from Lansing, Michigan. All he does is sit at the computer,” Lyle said of the mapmaker hired by African-American aldermen.
“There’s an unattributed population we haven’t put in any ward. When that’s done, we may put the 11th Ward back together and make it more compact. That version is not gonna stay. That version has unassigned people. It is an unfinished map. It should never have left the room.”
She added, “Things are getting closer to finalization. People are unhappy. And they want to start using the press as their additional lobbying group. It’s really unfair. Now, it’s one big mess.”