New York State Redistricting Process – ‘You be the judge’

In Columns by Hal Peterson0 Comments

On Nov. 17, 2011, six politically active voters filed an action in the U.S District Court Eastern District of New York, naming Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, as Speaker of the Assembly and, members of the New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR)  as Defendants. The complaint alleged that our  “current New York State legislative and congressional districts, which were enacted in 2002, are unconstitutional due to the population changes reflected in the 2010 census and that the state’s legislative redistricting process is at an impasse.”

On Feb. 21, the court denied the request to dismiss the action and shortly thereafter instructed Magistrate Master Judge Roanne L. Mann to draft a new congressional plan using 2010 Federal census data. On March 19th the court approved the redrawn maps.

End of story, hardly? On March 15, as part of a legislative deal-making session that comprised Tier VI pension changes, Cuomo (over the objections of fellow Democrats in the Senate) approved a redistricting plan authored by Senate Republicans. On April 28 the U.S. Department of Justice ruled that this plan satisfies stipulations of the federal Voting Rights Act, a victory for state republicans. This plan calls for the addition of a 63rd senatorial district in upstate New York with the seats of Rep. Steve Israel (D) and Peter King (R) essentially divided into north shore and south shore lines.

What’s next? The governor will now ask registered voters to change our state constitution to create yet another, look alike, LATFOR commission that will orchestrate redistricting after the 2020 census. He also announced, in a new level of magnificence, that the agreements reached will “put an end to the partisan and incumbent-protection gerrymandering that has plagued the process for over a century.” Critics claim the agreement reached is no better than we had before. My own personal observation, I didn’t know plagues lasted that long.

If you are interested in how our senatorial districts were realigned, make use of www.urbanresearchmap.org/NYredistricting/MAP.html. You can also use LATFOR’s website www.latfor.state.ny.us to view population and ethnicity changes measured against targeted representation goals.

In a radio interview on March 16 Cuomo said “I was elected to come to an incredibly dysfunctional capital and make the government work better, and that what I am doing.” You be the judge. For more information visit my new web site www.reformalbanynow registry.

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