Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Chicago Gang-Influenced City Council's "Doomsday" Plan

[Via Chicagoist]

Chicago has a sobering look at the influence street gang members and affiliates have in electing Chicago City Council members.

The Chicago staff blog, 312, contrasts this story with a recent piece in the Chicago Reader about the influence of big business in the Rahm Emmanuel administration and his ability to throw cash towards the politicians he supports.
It's not as simple as a transition from ward heeler to gangbanger; as the piece notes, gangs and politicians go back to the Lords of the Levee days. But as Bernstein and Isackson tell it, without the mediating influence of the patronage system—also a mediating influence between business and politics—it's a bit more like the olden times. 
That's where Bogira's piece completes the circle: a sense of what could come next, and Emanuel's role in it. Bogira focuses on Emanuel's New Chicago Committee, a PAC that supports "candidates for public office who share the goals of the political committee." It went seven-for-nine in its first local election cycle.
In the wake of the 2010 census results showing Latinos gaining over the black and white populations, various coalitions have bickered over what new map of Chicago's 50 Wards will balance racial representation and political incumbency to everyone's satisfaction.

If none can be agreed on, there's one more relatively fair map known as the "doomsday map".
It simply divides the city into squares. Ward boundaries don't meander all over the place to sort voters into predictable majorities. We hear it achieves near-perfect division of the city population, so each ward has the same number of people. And we hear it is likely to produce a City Council that closely mirrors the racial demographics of the city. 
What it doesn't do: Protect incumbents. 
Now you know why aldermen call it the doomsday map.
I wonder how all the proposed future ward maps line-up with Chicago gang boundaries?

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