2nd Ward Map Proposal introduced

A second remapping proposal was submitted to the Chicago City Clerk Friday. The proposal is in opposition to a proposal submitted by about 16 aldermen on Thursday.

Signing on to this proposal are area Aldermen Ameya Pawar, Dick Mell, Pat O’Connor, Harry Osterman and James Cappleman. A total of 32 aldermen have sponsored the second map proposal.

Alderman Scott Waguespack has signed on to sponsor a map largely supported by the Latino aldermen that was submitted on Thursday.

Passage through City Council by December 31 by 41 votes would preclude a public ballot on the proposal. That seems very doubtful now.

A simple majority vote of the Council, 26 votes, will cause adoption of a map. However, if that happens, the map would still require approval of the voters.


View Map for a Better Chicago in a larger map

Map boundaries are approximate. Credit: Welles Bulldog Graphics

Polish Americans Demand Representation in New Map

Members of the Polish American community implored a number of Aldermen to make sure their community is represented in the upcoming redistricting map at a town hall, the first of a series, that gave the public an opportunity to voice their opinion about the nature of the map that will need to be drawn to reflect the most recent census. Chicago is home to one of the biggest Polish American communities in America. About 180,000 households in the Chicagoland area speak Polish primarily in the home.

The town hall was held at North Park Village at 5801 N. Pulaski and is the closest public meeting for Ravenswood residents. Aldermen including Richard Mell, 33, Scott Waguespack, 32, and John Arena, 45, were among those in attendance.

At the meeting, a number of individuals that represent the Polish American community implored the politicians to make sure that their community is represented.

“We want to go to one Aldermanic office to take care of the needs of our community,” said Robert Groszek, an attorney. The Polish American community has its zenith on Belmont between Pulaski and Milwaukee, parts of Jefferson Park, and on Archer in the South Side. Groszek said after that the community on Belmont is covered by three different Wards (31, 35, and 30). Groszek also said he was worried that the 45th Ward might be split and splitting up that Polish American community in the process.

Michael Dubrisky agreed, “The Polish American community deserves to be represented.”

“Keeping the Polish Community is beneficial to Chicago because you can streamline services,” said Agnieszka Sobczyk of the Polish American Association.

A Polish American contractor said that within 100 feet there are three different wards and it makes it difficult to put together the necessary permits because he is always dealing with a different Aldermen.

A number of individuals also complained that the recent census under reported their community. They said that because no question on the census form is asked about which language is spoken at home, communities like the Polish American community aren’t isolated and instead fall into a larger ethnic group.

Alderman Dick Mell spoke after with Welles Park Bulldog and sounded hopeful, “We’re going to try to do the best we can. But the Polish community has moved (over time). Maybe (creating a Polish ward) is a possibility. We’ll try.”

Mell faces a difficult process pleasing all the different groups. He explained earlier that the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund has demanded that at least fourteen wards be predominantly Hispanic. The Black Caucus has also produced its own map.

Mell’s Reform and Ethics Committee will be responsible for drawing a map. Mell said he was also concerned that the final map won’t face a legal challenge. Ward maps must adhere to several nebulous principles, “compact, continuous, and relatively even.”

The next meeting is this evening, North- Grand High School (Auditorium), 4338 West Wabansia, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Patrick Boylan contributed to this report.

Photo of Deviation (change required) for each ward

Photo of Census Results- Majority Minority Populations

Photo of Census Results by Race- % Black

Photo of Census Results by Race- % Asian

Photo of Census Results by Race- % Hispanic

Photo of Census Results by Race- % White




Illinois House on 2nd reading of remap; Unusual weekend hearings

Democratic proposal to remap the 11th and 12th House, and the 6th Senate district in Ravenswood

With a May 31 deadline looming Illinois Statehouse Democrats are anticipating a busy week. At stake, passage of a state budget, pension proposals, workers comp reform and even perhaps even more importantly, passage of a remapping proposal for the legislature and the Illinois Congressional delegation.

For the first time in modern state history, one party controls the entire remapping process.

If passage of the budget and the remapping proposal is delayed past May 31, the Democrats lose control of the process. Instead of a simple majority of the membership to pass bills, a super-majority of 3/5’s of the membership is required.

With this deadline looming Friday, at 3:30P House Democrats released a proposed remap. Two unusual weekend hearings were held on proposals from the House and the Senate map proposals in Chicago.

The legislature plans to hold a joint session of the house and senate redistricting committees Tuesday in Springfield. *** Update the senate hearing has concluded as of 2.34P. The house is moving ahead with a second reading of the bill. ***

Activists were generally pleased with the maps, but asked for ‘tweaks’ to fix issues they saw. On the North Side those issues included concentrating the votes of Asian-Americans into a single senate district and into one or two house districts. The map proposed by the Democrats spreads them across up to four senate districts and even more house districts.

Other proposals would add additional majority minority districts in the far northwest suburbs of Cook, Chicago’s west and southwest sides and in the southeast side.

“We believe that the percentages of North Side districts can be strengthened and that percentages on the South Side can be more balanced,” Josina Morita of the United Congress told the committee.

The proportion of Asian-Americans would very probably be less than 30 percent even if all these tweaks are accepted, activists from the United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations noted.

“In the absence of change,” C W Chang of the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community said of the North Side proposal, “we will be powerless for ten years” due to the Asian population being split among so many different districts.

The Ravenswood senate districts that would be changed by these proposals would include the 7th, currently represented by Heather Steans. Also, the 8th, 9th and 10th districts could see some changes.

A proposal to create the 6th senate district to include the home of Rep. Deb Mell had received a rare opposing editorial from The Bulldog. The proposed map puts Mell’s home back in the 20th senate district, currently occupied by Iris Martinez.

In one of the few discussions regarding the 6th senate and the 11th and 12th house districts a representative of Wrightwood Neighbors, Allan Mellis, expressed full support on behalf of the organization of the proposed map.

Speaking of the majority Latino districts in Avondale, Irving Park and Albany Park Sylvia Puente of the Latino Policy Forum looked to strengthen “the sustainability of the districts.” Puente expressed an interest in fewer districts with a higher proportion of Latino voters.

Republicans were critical of the proposal, noting it was released at 3:30P Friday in Springfield. Rep. Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago) asked witnesses if they had been able to examine detailed information regarding the voting age population and when they knew a data disk was available.

Although Fortner noted the proposed map would force him into a runoff with another Republican, he was unable to say how many GOP legislators were in a similar situation.

Most witnesses admitted they had very little time or were unable to adequately review the proposal. In fact an analysis of the voting age population in each district was released by house Democrats minutes before the Sunday hearing.

“It is an insult to think the people of Illinois can understand a map produced less than 48 hours ago,” witness Bruce Crosby told the committee on Saturday’s hearing.

Witnesses at the Saturday hearing noted they only heard of the Sunday house hearing on Saturday at the senate hearing. On Sunday witnesses noted they were not aware a data disk was available.

Rep. Barbara Flynn Curie (D- Hyde Park) blamed the media for not getting the word out and noted the committee had released the disk to anyone who asked for it on Friday after 3:30P.

Whitney Woodward, speaking for the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform called the process unacceptable. Noting that no maps had yet been released for congressional seats, she said the process lacked transparency.


See the Democratic map proposal for the 6th Senate District and the 11th and 12th Representative Districts.

See the Democratic map proposal for the 7th Senate District and the 13th and 14th Representative Districts.

See the Democratic map proposal for the 20th Senate District and the 39th and 40th Representative Districts.

See a close-up of proposed Representative Districts in the Chicago area from the Democrats.

See a map of all the Illinois Districts proposed by the Democrats.

See the breakdown of voting age population for minorities in each district, provided by the Illinois House Democrats.

Read the press release from the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community.

Read the press release from the United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations.

Read the press release from the Illinois Coaliton for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

Read the press release from the Asian American Institute.

Visit the Illinois Senate Redistricting Committee Website to view senate maps, find testimony and find other information. (Requires Google Earth).

Visit the Illinois House Democrats Redistricting Website to view house maps, read testimony and find presentations given to the house.





Illinois Congressional redistricting will punish GOP

A number of signs that the Republicans are in for a hard time when Congressional maps for redistricting are released soon. Several different sites are forecasting maps that will expand the Democratic portion of the Congressional delegation to from 11 to 13 seats.

The Democrats currently hold eight seats.

The Capitolfax site reports Charlie Cook updated a map proposal that would extend the Fifth Congressional District, currently held by Mike Quigley, into DuPage County. It “will take a bite out of the district of Rep. Peter Roskam, merging that district with GOP freshman Randy Holtgren.

Swing State Project has been publishing maps that give the Democrats 14 seats in the delegation.  Holy Gerrymander, the map below creates a district that narrowly snakes from the Indiana border along the lake shore to Wisconsin and west to Lake in the Hills.

A Congressional remap proposal in Swing State Project would aim to push Congressman Dold from office by creating a district that stretched from Hegiswich to Lake in the Hills. Credit: Swing State Project


Congressional redistricting is handled by the Statehouse, with maps expected to come out this week.

A comparison of the 2000 map created by the legislature and a 2010 proposal created by computer. Credit: bdistricting

Redistricting should be transparent and honor recognized communities of interest

A Bulldog Editorial

Two weeks and a holiday exist between now and the end of the regular session of the Illinois General Assembly. The Statehouse is abuzz as it passes a controversial education reform bill and grapples with the legacy of financial mismanagement from two convicted former governors. But the elephant in the room is redistricting. And so far it is going unnoted. Using redistricting the politicians will be selecting the voters they want to vote for them. Oh! You thought you selected the politicians to represent you? That is a nice thought and worthy of a third grade essay. No. As the Bulldog has been discussing, the process for determining how our neighborhood will be represented is well underway. It is being purposely hidden from your view. And, it will all be over in two weeks. During May a redistricting plan only requires 60 votes in the House and 30 votes in the Senate to pass. In June, the same plan will need a 3/5ths majority of each chamber for passage. In other words, if the plan, which is not yet public, is not passed in the next two weeks, it will require Republican votes for passage. To suggest there isn’t a map shows arrogance and conceit. Yet, that is the claim of certain insiders and the Democratic Party leadership. Activists have been demanding for months the legislature reveal maps that insiders now say they have seen. The activists are demanding at least a week to respond to the proposed boundary lines. So far that call has gone unanswered. The insiders laugh at the naivety of activists and the press and our readers and thousands of other citizens in this state. We demand transparency. Who the hell do we think we are? THE STORY SO FAR As The Bulldog noted, a coalition of Asian, Hispanic and African American groups called the United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations have developed a comprehensive map that would increase representation of Hispanics and potentially of Asians without costing the African American community any representation. In Ravenswood the maps offer two versions. In each map plan Deb Mell will be forced to run in a district that is new to her. That is of concern to the LGBT community. Only three members of the General Assembly are openly gay. Mell is one of those reps. The LGBT community is not a protected minority. As Jacob Meister notes in an editorial in NowInGayChicago.com “the Census Bureau did not bother to collect data on LGBT individuals and families.” And, as The Bulldog has noted, gay activists believe that although certain retail areas, particularly in Uptown and in Boys Town, are associated with the gay community, gays are spread throughout the community and drawing a line to describe an area as being gay is not going to happen.


That said, we also look at our Mission Statement. We interpret those words to mean we should give voice to persons without voice. We believe that the LGBT community, although it has not received legal status as a protected minority, deserves protection by persons of good will. Therefore, The Bulldog supports map proposals that offer minorities and the LGBT community districts in which the minorities can run candidates with a good chance of winning. But that doesn’t guarantee a win. And, we find gerrymandering the map to get rid of an opponent offensive. We believe that has happened to Mell with the proposals by the United Congress. So, although we support the goals of the United Congress, and in general support the proposed map of the UC, we urge change.


The Bulldog is calling on the Statehouse to move the line for the 40th legislative district proposed by the United Congress in such a way that Mell’s home continues to be within the 40th district boundaries. We urge persons to oppose Mell in an open and fair primary and election if they don’t like her politics. And, we note that we have taken Mell to task in the past for working to keep opponents off the ballot using election law. We pledge to watch Mell carefully, but also watch her opponents. Everyone should play nice. End the Gerrymandering.

  1. The Democratic map should be revealed NOW. We do not buy that the map doesn’t exist. Government should be about transparency, not secrecy.
  2. A Hispanic majority district in the area of Albany Park/ Avondale and Irving Park should be established as outlined by the United Congress.
    1. That district should NOT carve out the home of Rep. Deborah Mell.
  3. If a house and/or senate district with Asian influence can be created, as outlined by the United Congress, it should be created.
  4. We believe there are several strong reasons to tie the following neighborhoods together in the same district due to existance of several separate groups that coexist:
    1. Ravenswood Manor
    2. Ravenswood Gardens
    3. Greater Rockwell
    4. Lincoln Square
    5. The portion of Ravenswood between the Chicago River, Foster, Lawrence and Lincoln Ave.
  5. We believe the tandem of a corridor along Lincoln Ave and the Brown Line should form the backbone of a district of common interest.
  6. We believe the eight  retail/residential areas below should each be kept in a single house and single senate district
    1. St. Ben’s
    2. Roscoe Village
    3. Bowmanville
    4. Budlong Woods
    5. The six corners of Lincoln/Belmont/Ashland
    6. The six corners of Lincoln/Damen/Irving Park
    7. Wrigleyville
    8. Southport Corridor
  7. We believe that the natural boundaries created by the Chicago River, industrial areas and cemeteries should be used to draw lines and that any legislative district representing this area not include any part of the suburbs.
  8. The entirety of the campus, offices, parking facilities and future development of Swedish Covenant Hospital should be intact within a single district.

The Bulldog editorializes that legislative districts be drawn to create majority Hispanic districts, an Asian influence district and protect the boundaries of nine communities of interest.


The Bulldog is a for-profit enterprise. It is also a hyper-local news effort that had to define what were its communities of interest. The concept of communities of interest should be taken into consideration by the legislature. It is a concept that received a lot of attention during the legislative hearings that have led us up to this moment. Ravenswood is represented by two State Senators holding powerful leadership positions: Senate President John Cullerton and Sen. Heather Steans. We believe that the leadership will act to protect the districts of these two leaders despite any protest made by anyone. That said, The Bulldog claims expertise in defining what the communities of interest in Ravenswood are. We believe that the purpose of the Democratic Party to protect Cullerton and Steans can be met and the needs of the community protected too. We are using our editorial voice, an expression of the community of writers and photographers, because someone must stand and state these principles to the legislature before it is to late. We urge Cullerton and Steans to consider that our community will be better represented if certain the following are considered prior to finalizing the map.

  1. A Hispanic majority district in the area of Albany Park/ Avondale and Irving Park should be established as outlined by the United Congress.
    1. That district should NOT carve out the home of Rep. Deborah Mell.
  2. If a house district with Asian influence can be created, as outlined by the United Congress, it should be created.
  3. In general there are a number of significant boundaries present in the area that prevent easy community building. They provide opportunities to create boundaries.
    1. Rosehill Cemetery.
    2. Graceland Cemetery.
    3. St. Boniface Cemetery.
    4. The small cemeteries north of Wrigley Field.
    5. The Metra/ UP North Line is also an appropriate boundary, except as noted.
    6. The combination of the Addison Industrial Corridor, Lane Tech High School and the former property of Riverview.
  4. The Chicago River should form a boundary.
  5. The map should recognize that there are communities of interest in Ravenswood that are centered on retail districts and transportation nodes. When possible, the retail districts and the transportation nodes should be intact within a district.
    1. One of the most important distinctions for Ravenswood residents is the proximity to the Brown Line. This transportation feature is common to several neighborhoods. It ties together Ravenswood Manor and SouthEast Ravenswood and gives reason for the strange “L” shape of Ravenswood.
    2. A second key feature in this neighborhood is the Metra Line.
    3. A third key to the area is Lincoln Ave. It appears that the district drawn in 2000 which is now represented by Cullerton centered on Lincoln Ave. That district is relatively cohesive and shares many interests.
    4. In the case of both senate districts, we believe that they should remain entirely within the boundaries of the City of Chicago.
  6. The Ravenswood neighborhood is, in general, a neighborhood that has a small number of protected minorities. However, that does not mean it doesn’t have distinct ethnic differences.
    1. A German community of interest, the rump of what was once a much larger German community, still exists, centered on Lincoln Ave., and in particularly we find anecdotal evidence this community continues to exist near Lincoln Square.
    2. A Greek community of interest exists. As is the case with the German population, this is an ethnic group that is losing its population as new generations move out and new groups move in. We find anecdotal evidence this group continues to exist along Lawrence Ave from the area near California Ave to Western Ave. This area includes the church of St. Demetrios.
    3. Former Yugoslavia community. We find anecdotal evidence, based primarily on the existance of bars serving the community, that this recent group exists in the area of Lincoln Square.
  7. Key retail areas should not be divided into separate legislative districts. We point to Chinatown as an example of how poorly served a business district can be if it has more than one legislator. We point, in our own area, to Andersonville, which is divided among several wards, as an example of terrible planning during redistricting.
    1. The Lincoln Square retail area is a two block radius area centered at Lawrence, Lincoln and Western.
    2. Bowmanville, which has no significant retail area, nevertheless should be kept together.
    3. Budlong Woods is a distinct area and should be kept together. In the not to distant past, this neighborhood would have formed a boundary due to its being a farm. Current maps call for this area to be included in the proposed Asian influence district.
    4. Andersonville should not be divided again. It is generally defined by Clark Street from near the corner of Ridge to south of Foster.
    5. Ravenswood Manor has more in common with the Ravenswood Garden community across the Chicago River than many other contiguous communities. They should be in the same district. In some areas these two communities are considered to overlap Greater Rockwell which itself overlaps Lincoln Square. It shouldn’t be an issue to keep these small neighborhoods together.
    6. St. Ben’s is a distinct area and should remain together. We define it as the area within two blocks of the church/ school complex at Leavitt and Irving Park Rd.
    7. Roscoe Village is a distinct area and should not be divided. We define it as an area within two blocks of Roscoe running from Western Ave to the Metra railroad.
    8. In addition, we see retail areas forming communities of interest around Wrigley Field, Lincoln/ Irving and Damen and Belmont/ Lincoln and Ashland. The city has definitions of the two retail areas that the six corners define. Wrigley, in our opinion, is the area that receives a significant economic impact due to the proximity of the ballfield, or about two blocks from the intersection of Clark and Addison.
    9. In general, public elementary school attendance boundaries should be kept intact.
    10. In general, larger communities, such as Ravenswood, Uptown, Lake View and Rogers Park should be kept in one legislative district.
  8. Now, joining the chorus, The Bulldog has shown its map. We want the leadership to show its map.

WHAT IS THE LAW? The basic requirements for a legislative district, according to the Federal government are:

  • Federal Voting Rights Act. Provides protected minorities that could create districts of 50 percent or greater population proportion with protection from practices of cracking and packing to dilute their strength.
    • States and municipalities cannot do “too much” to compensate for race. However, they may not use redistricting to dillute the voting strength of minority populations. The fine line between whether a plan leans on dilluting minorities or makes the election accessible often sends plans to court for adjudication.
  • Gingles Factor. A court test based on the Federal VRA provides that to prove a section 2 VRA violation
    • The minority group is sufficiently large and geographically concentrated to make up a majority district
    • That the minority group is politically cohesive
    • That the white majority votes together to defeat the minority candidate
  • One person, one vote
    • Baker v Carr, 1962 court decision held that districts have to have roughly equal population

In addition, Illinois has a Voting Rights Act. That law mandates the following:

An alternative majority Hispanic district proposed by the Illinois Hispanic Agenda also excludes Rep. Deb Mell’s home. Credit: Illinois Hispanic Agenda
  • Contiguity.

Districts cannot include “islands” that are not geographically connected in some manner to the district (for example on real islands, there needs to be a transportation link such as a bridge or a ferry to the rest of the district).

  • Compactness.

The boundaries of the district can be measured by a number of measures. Let’s summarize this limitation as calling for the districts to be able to withstand tests that their boundaries are logical.

  • Nesting.

Illinois uses a system in which two Illinois House Districts are associated with each Illinois Senate District.

  • The state law created three categories of districts for the legislature to consider:
    • Crossover districts- Districts where a minority is large enough to elect the candidate of its choice provided the candidate receives support from voters outside the minority.
    • Coalition districts- Districts in which more than one minority can form a coalition to elect a candidate of their choice.
    • Influence districts- A district where a minority can influence the election even if its preferred candidate cannot be elected.
  • Encourages ‘communities’ of common concern
    • May be ethnic, religious, based on transportation, sexual, etc.
    • Legislature will act not to break up (crack) such communities

In addition, let’s layout a few other specifics.

  • Majority Hispanic districts are generally higher in the proportion of Hispanics than majority white or black districts due to a skew in the average age of the population: more of the population is too young to vote and there appears to be lower participation in the election process among Hispanics. 65 percent is considered necessary to create a majority Hispanic district.
  • While there is some information available about single-sex households, in general information about LGBT communities is not based on census data.
  • In Illinois the location of incumbents homes are taken into consideration. This is not true for all redistricting efforts. Iowa, for example, uses a computer that does not consider incumbent addresses in its plan.
  • Illinois has a history of using redistricting to punish potential opponents of incumbents. Famously, in the redistricting of the South Side following the 2000 census, a young Illinois Senator, Barack Obama, was redistricted out of Congressman Bobby Rush’s district.
  • Illinois also factors in political loyalty of a district. Specifically, Illinois legislators look at voting along party lines in previous presidential, US Senate and state executive offices.
  • The final consideration  is that the legislature is asked to take communities of interest into consideration. A community of interest can be any self-defined group. For example:
    • Ethnic groups
    • Religious groups
    • Groups based on employment (e.g., farming, auto parts, colleges, etc)
    • Communities of LGBT and similar sexual orientation and identity
    • A town or neighborhood
    • Communities that are defined by infrastructure (such as use of the Brown Line)
  • Gerrymandering is the act of remapping to give an unfair advantage to one political group. The Federal Voting Rights Act protects minorities against racial Gerrymandering.
  • Cracking. Diluting a group. A violation of the VRA for protected minorities if it harms the ability of minorities to elect representation
  • Packing. Concentrating a group. A violation of the VRA for protected minorities if it harms the ability of minorities to elect representation


  • Tues., May 31 Last day to pass reapportionment by 50% +1 of membership
  • Fri., June 3 Gov. Pat Quinn must receive reapportionment legislation
  • Thurs., June 30 Last day to pass reapportionment by 3/5ths of membership vote
  • Wed., Aug. 10 Last day for eight member commission to submit a reapportionment plan
  • Wed., Oct 5 Deadline for nine member commission to submit a reapportionment plan
  • Early November Candidates begin passing petitions for office under the reapportionment