In federal court this week in Chicago, a lawyer representing the state legislature argued that race really doesn’t matter when it comes to drawing electoral maps.

“Illinois in 2020 is not your grandfather’s Illinois,” said Sean Berkowitz, the attorney defending the legislative district maps signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in September, in a hearing at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse downtown.

Illinois today “is not Mississippi in 1965 or Illinois in 1980,” Berkowitz added, according to a report by Capitol News Illinois.

Berkowitz argued that race is almost beside the point in modern-day voting. He cited the fact that many white voters “cross over” to vote for politicians of color. They helped elect Kwame Raoul as state attorney general and Tammy Duckworth as U.S. senator.

A few blocks away, elected officials in City Hall had begun proving Berkowitz wrong. They were engaging in a fight for power, with race serving as the defining element.

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David Greising is the president and chief executive of the Better Government Association, joining the BGA in 2018. For nearly a century, the BGA has fought for honest and effective government through investigative journalism and policy advocacy.

Greising’s career started at the City News Bureau of Chicago, with stops at the Chicago Sun-Times, Business Week magazine, the Chicago Tribune and Reuters. He was a co-founder of the Chicago News Cooperative and worked briefly as a consultant to World Business Chicago. Today, Greising writes on government issues in regular columns for the Tribune and Crain’s Chicago Business.

Under Greising’s leadership, the BGA has played a key role in uncovering public corruption amidst the wide-ranging federal probe, starting with an in-depth report about Ald. Ed Burke’s conflicts of interest before the federal charges against Burke. The BGA also has exposed waste and fraud at O’Hare and the proliferation of corruption and poverty into Dolton, Lyons and other Chicago suburbs. The BGA’s policy team has led calls for ethics reform in Chicago’s City Council and in state government.