Wednesday, May 25, 2011

EXTRA: A compromise, but not much, to bolster Latino political representation

Burke, Lipinski, Madigan.
MADIGAN: A Latino legislator?

Those are three of the biggest names of the Chicago political scene. Those officials also come from Southwest Side communities whose populations have changed significantly enough that they ought to be the heart of the growing Latino political power.

BUT THEY’RE NOT, because the political powers-that-be are interested not only in ensuring that Republican Party officials remain in the minority for the upcoming decade, they also want to protect their most prominent members.

So a large part of what is keeping the Latino population across Illinois from achieving its full potential is the fact that the leadership is interested in keeping itself in office.

I found it interesting that state officials on Wednesday said they were willing to make a few changes in the legislative districts approved by an Illinois House committee earlier this week so as to increase the potential for Latino legislators.

That map called for a slight increase in the number of Latino legislators, compared to what exists in the boundaries drawn in 2001. This one may add even another legislator or two.

TO DO THAT, they even messed with the legislative district that sends Michael Madigan to the Illinois House of Representatives every other year, where the legislators then pick him to be the House speaker.

Madigan’s district, according to the Chicago Tribune, will have a 60 percent Latino population. Which means Madigan is going to have to learn to be understanding, even sympathetic, to the needs and wants of the growing Latino population.

LIPINSKI: He'll have to adapt his style

It will be interesting to see if the political people who put together boundaries for congressional districts and wards for the City Council will be willing to do the same thing.

For the reality is that the Latino population in this state is large enough to warrant two congressional districts. The easiest way to achieve that is to make the current district of Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., into a Northwest Side-based district, and alter the district of Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., into a Southwest Side-based district. It would become one district largely of Puerto Rican neighborhoods represented by Gutierrez, and another largely of Mexican-American neighborhoods represented by Lipinski (if he can adapt himself to the new reality) or someone new.
BURKE: Will council challenge status quo?

THE WARD OF long-time Alderman Edward Burke (and the state legislative district of his brother, state Rep. Dan Burke, D-Chicago) could face the same fate – IF aldermen are willing to look at the population realistically when they get around to municipal redistricting in coming months.

Instead, they may wind up being more interested in trying to preserve the status quo.


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