Just two months into his tenure as chairman of the Chicago City Council’s Hispanic Caucus, Ald. Danny Solis (25th Ward) talked to Progress Illinois about both the group's upcoming remap battle and his stance in the push for clean air in Chicago.
Just two months into his tenure as chairman of the Chicago City Council’s Hispanic Caucus, Ald. Danny Solis (25th Ward) talked to Progress Illinois about the group’s priorities. At the top of their to do list is the upcoming remap battle that has already made headlines, while Solis himself is at the center of another major issue for Chicago: the Clean Power Ordinance, which came back to life last week in the Chicago City Council.
First, the remap battle. This week, the council’s Black Caucus announced that former Sixth Ward alderman Freddrenna Lyle will head up their legal fight in the much anticipated remap battle. At stake for the Black Caucus are 19 City Council seats and 20 black-majority wards that could be in jeopardy due to the decline in the city's black population, according to 2010 Census data. Meanwhile, the city's Hispanic population swelled. Lyle is an attorney who spent 13 years as a city alderman.
Solis said the redistricting process is the Hispanic Caucus’ “immediate priority” and “primary focus.” Going up against Lyle will be two other even more well-known City Hall players: Victor Reyes and Homero Tristan. Victor Reyes is the arguably discredited political powerhouse who began the Hispanic Democratic Organization under former Mayor Richard Daley. Homero Tristan is a former top Daley aide who was accused of lying to the city's inspector general. Both were linked to City Hall corruption charges. Interestingly enough, the United Neighborhoods Organization (UNO) has also already hired Reyes for the Illinois state remap process.
Solis’ camp offered no immediate comment as to why the caucus chose Reyes and Tristan, but he did comment on Lyle. “I hope that she is fair and works well with our legal representation. My hope is that we can work out an agreement that is good for all communities and the citizens of Chicago,” Solis said in an email.
Further, Solis said the caucus is still looking at data to determine how many seats they might be able to gain. According to a Sun-Times report, the current map has 20 black wards, 13 white wards, 11 Hispanic wards and six wards with a “majority minority” mix of Hispanics, blacks and Asians. Lyle also told the Sun-Times in the same report that any Hispanic wards should be converted from current white wards. Solis did not immediately say whether or not he or the Hispanic Caucus agreed with Lyle on that.
Meanwhile, Solis remains in the thick of the fight for clean air, something that Progress Illinois has covered thoroughly. He re-introduced the Clean Power Ordinance last week at City Council with a total of 31 co-sponsors. The ordinance would force the controversial Fisk and Crawford coal-fired power plants to lower the amount of carbon and other particulate matter that is emitted by the facilities.
A separate ordinance also introduced by Solis is the Lead Pollution Ordinance, which passed unanimously in the Committee on Health and Environment and the full council.
“I collected over 500 signatures from individuals neighboring Perez School, where the high levels of lead were reported, in support of this ordinance. I worked with the Clean Power Coalition to get their support behind the ordinance,” Solis said of his effort.
As for criticism by a local community group, Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (PERRO), for the lack of community involvement in creating the lead ordinance, Solis said “My staff also met with PERRO leaders to get their feedback to the initial ordinance and attended a community meeting to get more information from the community regarding the ordinance. This information was considered and incorporated when creating the substitute ordinance which passed council last week.”