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Hispanic Caucus makes moves to consolidate clout

Updated: October 29, 2012 9:08PM

Determined to maximize the political clout of Chicago’s fastest-growing ethnic group, the City Council’s Hispanic Caucus incorporated on Monday and officially welcomed seven white aldermen representing majority Hispanic wards.

By establishing a foundation incorporated for tax purposes as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, the Hispanic Caucus hopes to solicit tax-deductible donations for college scholarships and undisclosed “community building” activities.

But that’s not the only fund-raising the Hispanic Caucus intends to do while addressing issues important to Latinos.

By also incorporating as a 501(c)(4) organization, the group also intends to solicit donations that will not be tax deductible for “issue-based campaign activities” that include voter registration, get-out-the-vote operations and citizenship drives.

Ald. Danny Solis (25th), chairman of the now, 15-member Hispanic Caucus, was asked whether voters solicited by their local aldermen would feel pressured to pony up for fear that city services would dry up if they don’t.

“We’re going to consistently emphasize the issues that we’re promoting. It’s going to be education. It’s going to be policies that affect our broader community. And it’s not going to be toward political ends or a political candidate,” Solis said.

“The Hispanic Caucus on the state [level] has had very significant success in terms of advocating for education issues, immigration issues. We think we can do the same. And we’re gonna be very careful about trying to do it in a manner that is non-political.”

Eight months ago, the City Council approved a new Chicago ward map without a vote to spare that includes 13 Hispanic wards and two Hispanic “influence” wards to reward Hispanics for their 25,218-person population gain in the 2010 U.S. Census.

A few weeks later, the Hispanic Caucus extended an invitation to seven white aldermen representing majority Hispanic wards: John Pope (10th), Marty Quinn (13th), Toni Foulkes (15th), Edward M. Burke (14th), Michael Zalewski (23rd), Richard Mell (33rd) and Nick Sposato (36th).

By opening the doors of the Hispanic Caucus to non-Latino members, Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) said he hopes to “maximize the power” of Chicago’s fastest growing ethnic group, “so they can start voting as a bloc on important issues” including early-childhood and bilingual education, school closings and even corn vendors who sell their wares from sidewalk carts.

Burke, chairman of the City Council’s Finance Committee, agreed that there is “strength in unity,” adding, “When a group of 10-plus wards can speak on a united basis, it gives the concerns and aspirations of that group even a louder voice.”

But when asked whether he expects the Hispanic Caucus to vote as a 15-member bloc, Chicago’s most powerful alderman said, “No. There will be differences in any group, and I’m sure you’ll see that there will be differences of opinion here, as there was in the redistricting.”

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