Ward map battle over, but bitterness lingers

“Look what you’ve done. Englewood still has six aldermen. … It’s gonna take an hour and a half for Altgeld Gardens residents who were taken out of my ward and put in the 10th Ward to get to their alderman,” Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), said Monday.

SHARE Ward map battle over, but bitterness lingers
Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), shown at Chicago City Council in 2022.

Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), shown at Monday’s Chicago City Council meeting, is not happy with his new ward boundaries.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

The political jockeying over ward boundaries may be over. But the bitterness still lingers.

That much was clear on Monday when Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), one of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s most outspoken City Council critics, traded insults with Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), the mayoral ally who chairs the Black Caucus.

It started when Beale said he joined forces with the Latino Caucus only after Ervin locked him out of the map room.

“If somebody can find a text message or a phone [call] that says, ‘Alderman Beale, would you mind coming in the room so we can talk,’ I’ll give you $100 for every one that you can find. But we all know you can’t find it because Alderman Beale was locked out of the process,” Beale said.

When he and neighboring Ald. Susan Sadlowski-Garza (10th) finally got into the room, Beale said he was told by Mike Kasper, who spent decades as election law expert for now-indicted former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, that Kasper “had orders not to move any of my lines.”

“But let me tell y’all something: I’ve got broad shoulders and I’ve got thick skin. Tony Beale is gonna rise again,” Beale said.

Ervin responded to the lock-out charge without using Beale’s name.

“When the Black community’s political ... survival was on the stake, you walked away from us to go somewhere else. Why, we don’t know,” Ervin said.

“No orders were given to chop up the 9th Ward. No orders were given by anybody but to preserve Black Chicago. Those are the orders that were given by us all because our people depend on us to deliver for them — not to sell anybody out in this body or in this space. And I want my hundred dollars, because I got it on text.”

Beale was not letting that insult go unanswered.

“I am demanding an apology from the alderman of the 28th Ward because there is no stronger advocate for African Americans than me. ... I was not the one who orchestrated the total disregard and total elimination of African Americans being part of the cannabis process,” Beale said.

“I have created over 1,700 jobs in my community and brought in over $1 billion in public-private investment. So when people start throwing daggers, let’s say what we’ve done in our community other than create a skating park and say this is the greatest thing that’s happened to the great West Side.”

Sensing disaster, Lightfoot demanded that Beale confine his response to the “limited point” made by Ervin.

“We’re not gonna do a survey and canvass of every issue and every grievance. … I’d ask you under Rule 13 to limit your comments to the statements that were made and not throw every piece of mud that we possibly can,” she said.

Before the dust-up ended, Beale carved up the compromise in a rhetorical version of the mapmaking he condemned.

“Look what you’ve done. Englewood still has six aldermen. … It’s gonna take an hour and a half for Altgeld Gardens residents who were taken out of my ward and put in the 10th Ward to get to their alderman. Three buses and an L to get to their representation. That’s disenfranchising people. Look at what they’ve done to the 36th Ward. It’s a string across six wards. How is that community going to be represented?”

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