A coalition of business, clergy and civic leaders has launched a petition drive and fundraising efforts for a 2016 ballot question aimed at changing how Illinois draws political boundaries, an initiative group officials said Tuesday builds on a previous failed attempt. Independent Maps, which wants to take the mapmaking process out of the hands of politicians and give it to an independent commission, said the state’s once-a-decade process of redistricting is too political. The group bills itself as nonpartisan and board members include former Tribune Co. CEO Dennis FitzSimons, former White House chief of staff Bill Daley, the Rev. Byron Brazier of Chicago’s Apostolic Church of God and former Playboy Enterprises CEO Christie Hefner.
FitzSimons, the group’s chairman, said they’d made changes to a proposal a judge found unconstitutional in 2014 and planned to raise more than $3 million, the amount previously spent. FitzSimons, chairman of the Robert McCormick Foundation, has donated $25,000 of his own money to the effort and the McCormick Foundation has donated $250,000, according to state campaign finance filings.
“This is a bipartisan issue of slanting the maps,” FitzSimons said. “What we’re going after is not any individual or party. We’re going after the process. That’s what needs to be changed. ”
The Independent Map Amendment would establish an 11-member commission with geographic and demographic diversity and it would require seven commissioners to approve a map, including at least two Democrats and two Republicans. A review panel, chosen at random from a pool of registered voters who adhere to “standards of ethical conduct,” would select commission members.