Common Cause’s Beef With Redistricting Plan


UPDATE: Late Friday, Albany federal district court Judge Gary Sharpe ruled that NY’s congressional primary elections be moved to June 26. The ruling does not affect state and local primary elections. (H/T to Azi Paybarah at Capital New York.)

AD 18 – “Purse Snatcher” or “Running Robot”

Common Cause/NY’s (CC) castigation of the draft redistricting plan is wrong on a few counts. The Assembly plan preserved 65 districts in NYC and added 1 seat to LI bringing it to 22 districts. The population decline upstate coupled with the population growth on LI necessitated the add’l district going there. This resulted in two upstate Republicans and two Buffalo-area legislators (1 Dem/1GOP) being placed in the same districts, respectively.

CC omits mentioning that six open seats were created (i.e., have no incumbent). I feel funny using these racial/ethnic identifier bu the draft plan creates 3 Asian districts (ADs 24, 25, 49); 17 Hispanic districts; and 15 African American districts. The Assembly plan also holds the standard population deviation to below +/-4.0%. Albeit, CC, other good government advocates and Gov. Cuomo, wanted it held to +/-1.0%, the practicalities of the Voting Rights Act and the state constitution required a higher population deviation.

Admittedly, the entire GOP senate plan is partisan, yet legal. The plan draws Democratic districts in Queens. During the last two election cycles, Republican incumbents were defeated. Yes, in a juvenile pique, they cut Gianaris out of his district. But in politics, “boys will be boys.”

The “Asian” SD probably caused the shift that now pits two white incumbents. But I recall CC stating its opposition to any plan that protects white incumbents at the expense of minority opportunity districts. Plus, CC and other goo-goo groups have long insisted that lines be drawn irrespective of legislators residences. The senate plan does that, albeit, in Queens and Brooklyn only.

The only legal solution is to amend the state constitution, as NYC amended its Charter to create its successful independent redistricting commission.

In the meantime, NYers who object should file their complaints at the upcoming LATFOR hearings. I believe the districts will be amended and approved by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. If we can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, why expect the political process to produce a thing of beauty and perfection. Without bad, there’d be no good or “goo-goos.”

Describe AD 18 in the comment section below.

About SquarePegDem

A former state legislator turned NY Post editorial board member, thought-leader, public affairs consultant and commentator, columnist and blogger. Michael has appeared on Al Jazeera America Tonight, NY1/Inside City Hall, FoxNews.com LIVE, YNN/Capital Tonight, The Brian Lehrer Show, The Fred Dicker Show, The Capitol Press Room, and The Daily Show. His op-eds have appeared in the NY Post, City and State, The Legislative Gazette, Bronx Times, The Troy Record, Buffalo News, and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. To schedule speaking engagements, email MBenjamin9@optimum.net.
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