Illinois Briefs 5/25/2011

h2. House committee OKs new legislative districts

The once-a-decade exercise by lawmakers to redraw Illinois’ political boundaries has left some questioning whether the proposed redistricting maps fairly represent a growing Latino population, and one prominent advocacy group insisted Tuesday that they do not.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund testified at a state Capitol hearing that the proposed districts fracture Latino voters in some Chicago area districts and don’t maximize Latino districts in suburban areas. Nina Perales, the group’s vice president for litigation, said the redistricting “denies Latinos an opportunity to elect their candidates of choice.”

An Illinois House committee has approved new legislative districts despite MALDEF’s opposition. The districts drawn by Democrats advanced on a party-line vote, although it is not clear when the full House might vote.

Other Latino groups have said the proposed redistricting maps are fair and balance the political interests of Latinos against that of other minority groups such as African-Americans, who saw their population numbers in Illinois shrink.

h2. Former Chicago Mayor Daley accepts university post

Days after Richard M. Daley’s 22-year tenure as mayor of Chicago ended, he was at the University of Chicago on Tuesday to announce he is joining the Harris School of Public Policy Studies as a distinguished senior fellow.

Daley will not be grading papers, but the dean of the school made it clear that the longest-serving mayor in Chicago history will be teaching students what he knows about cities, offering a perspective they can’t get from tweedy academics.

“We see the appointment of Mayor Daley as a crucial component that rounds off what we do in terms of cities,” said the school’s dean, Colm O’Muircheartaigh. “It brings to us an element of policy implementation and practice, which is not something that we have naturally within our faculty but which is essential for a true understanding of what’s going on.”

As a fellow, Daley will coordinate 10 guest lectures a year for five years, beginning in the fall, and will also lead the discussions with the guests, O’Muircheartaigh said.

“I hope to prepare the next generation of policy makers and other future leaders,” Daley said of his new job.

_Compiled from Associated Press reports_