There is no deal with Governor Cuomo, but that did not stop the Senate Republicans and Assembly Democrats from trying to push through hyperpolitical, and unquestionably unconstitutional district lines, designed solely to protect political power.
The bill introduced late last night backs the latest effort from the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR), a highly-political redistricting group led by legislators from both chambers. And it is obvious that LATFOR and legislators are not listening to the voting public: They want redistricting lines to help their communities, not the careers of politicians.
Late last night, the Cuomo Administration said they’ll check the new plans, but there is no deal implied or imminent. Cuomo has vowed to veto any redistricting plans drawn for partisan reasons. However, rumors are spreading in Albany that he has been backing down from this stance and may be willing to make a compromise, particularly if it coincides with a pension reform package.
The new district maps continue to insult and disenfranchise voters. For example, the new maps leave the outrageous 38th State Senate district gerrymander in place.
In the revised maps, Sen. David Carlucci’s district still loses the Rockland County towns of Haverstraw, Stony Point and the Orange County towns of Tuxedo and Warwick in Orange County but crosses the Hudson River well above the Tappan Zee Bridge and adds to town of Ossining under the proposed redistricting. It’s a mockery when you consider that to cross the district, you would have to leave it for twenty minutes.
Good government groups such as Common Cause NY say that the new 38th State Senate District should be entirely in the confines of Rockland County. After all, the county’s population of 312,000 is within the recommended size a State Senate district, regardless of whether an extra State Senate district is added. Not only does common sense dictate that the boundaries of the County and the State Senate district be the same, so does the New York State Constitution.
Last week, Federal Magistrate Judge Roanne Mann, the special master appointed to handle redistricting issues, released her draft of Congressional district lines. Mann’s boundaries were simple and clean, and seemed devoid of politics. Common Cause has applauded Mann’s draft. If the State Assembly and State Senate can’t work out a deal with Governor Cuomo this week, Mann’s plan would become the final district lines.
Insult has also been added to injury. The legislature is promising to introduce a constitutional amendment to change the redistricting process in 2022, which yields the task to an independent commission. But when you read what they’re actually proposing, it hardly sounds like reform:
The commission would consist of 2 appointments each by the Assembly and Senate majorities and minorities. Those 8 members would pick two more members. Seven members of the 10 person panel would have to vote to approve any lines that are drawn.
The amendment also bars any lobbyists or lawmaker from serving unless they have been out of the profession for 3 years. Spouses of state lawmakers and members of Congress are barred from serving, but not other relatives or business partners.