As City Council heavyweights prepare to redraw ward boundaries in a once-a-decade exercise that will reshape Chicago's political landscape, a group of independent-minded aldermen is raising money to pay for its own high-tech map room.
It would be outside City Hall — and not run under the rules of the power structure within it. Aldermen or their aides would be welcome to use the computers to arm themselves with demographic details, said Ald. Joe Moore, 49th, one of the leaders of the Reform Caucus, a loose affiliation of more than a dozen aldermen not beholden to regular Democrats.
Because Democrats run Chicago, remap debates are about race and ethnicity, not party affiliation. They're often contentious.
Much changed in the ethnic and racial makeup of the city from 2000 to 2010, when the population dropped to just under 2.7 million. A loss of about 200,000 people will shrink the average size of each ward to about 53,900 people.
The biggest decline was among African-Americans, whose numbers dropped by about 182,000 as the city tore down public housing high-rises, the foreclosure crisis left swaths of South Side and West Side communities vacant and blacks moved to the suburbs. The white population also fell, by nearly 53,000.
Meanwhile, the number of Latinos rose by about 25,000. The Asian population grew by more than 20,000.
If the ethnic and racial makeup of the city mirrored its population, the council would have 16 whites, 16 blacks, 15 Latinos and three Asians. But the way wards get carved up — by politicians trying to maintain or grow power while not running afoul of federal and state voting protections for minorities — is far from that simple.