Ward Remap Prompts Aldermen to Protest, Consider Legal Action
CITY HALL — The city's muddled ward remap is prompting two aldermen to formally object to its pell-mell imposition and consider legal action to win an injunction.
"They're just disenfranchising voters," said Ald. Nick Sposato (36th).
"We have a constitutional and fiduciary responsibility to represent our constituents we were elected by," added Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd).
At issue is a new ward map that was drawn up after the 2010 census. Some aldermen have already started honoring the ward boundaries established by that map — providing services to residents who lived in other aldermen's wards under the previous map.
Sposato and Fioretti believe those new boundaries shouldn't be honored until after the spring 2015 aldermanic elections. They cite a letter written a year ago by Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton stating "applicable law provides that the 2001 map, which was in effect for the 2011 aldermanic elections, should govern for the duration of those four-year terms."
"Don't continue to disenfranchise voters. This is not right," Sposato said Monday. "If somebody elected me, I should be representing them."
Sposato said some of the confusion has been comical, such as a woman calling a ward office to find out how to make a commercial complaint with the attorney general's office and being told to call another ward office because the boundary had changed.
"Just give her the number to the AG's office!" Sposato said.
Ald. Danny Solis (25th), chairman of the Zoning Committee, where aldermen usually hold heavy sway, arbitrarily informed aldermen he'd begin observing the new ward map in late January. Yet, according to Fioretti and Sposato, most city departments, including Streets & Sanitation, continue to operate by the old map, although several committee chairman announced last week they'd be switching over.
The two, who say their wards are among those most altered by the remap, insist they represent the voters who elected them until new boundaries take effect with the next election.
Fioretti suggested the early shift was about some aldermen looking ahead to re-election because they need to pad their pensions with another term.
"And they're forgetting about the citizens who elected them," he added.
Part of the problem, they said, is Mayor Rahm Emanuel has issued no directive, beyond his corporation counsel's opinion, to clarify the issue. They said they'll be joining with fellow members of the Progressive Reform Coalition, including Aldermen Roderick Sawyer (6th), Scott Waguespack (32nd) and John Arena (45th), to seek clarification from the mayor and the corporation counsel.
The mayor's press office did not respond to requests for comment.
Both Sposato and Fioretti said legal action seeking an injunction was not out of the question. "We're looking at every legal option," Fioretti said.