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Redistricting proposal draws criticism, laughter

Jan 27, 2012 12:02 am
Ivan Lajara at The Daily Freeman thinks it is no joke that LAFTOR is the acronym for the New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment. Their "proposals are laughable" according to Lajara's headline in the paper, over a story about the redistricting proposals released Thu., Jan. 26. Common Cause/NY Executive Director Susan Lerner said, "These maps appear to continue the long tradition of partisan gerrymandering we've come to expect. There are major demographic changes that are simply not reflected on these maps." Governor Andrew Cuomo has vowed to veto any redistricting that is not created by an independent body. This plan was created by the the legislators themselves, so, as almost everyone is pointing out, they have drawn the lines to ensure their own re-election. Republican-leaning districts, now lean more. Democrat-heavy districts are heavier. They have created a new 63rd Senate seat, pairing Greene County with Albany and other points north in Senate District 46. Lajara quotes an AP news account and says, "The story continues, 'The added Senate district would include part of Ulster County (including the city of Kingston), all of Greene County and parts of Albany, Schenectady and Montgomery counties.' So imagine my surprise when a total of zero public meetings were scheduled in the area."

Local effects

• Ulster County may be in the worst situation in the entire state. The proposal cuts the county into four Senate Districts, up from two. The people of Ulster County will have almost no representation in the Senate, as those four politicians will care little about its collective well-being, and not even cater much to the few voters they will have there, focusing on their majorities elsewhere.

• Greene County would see much change. Republican James Seward would, under the plan, not be Greene County's senator anymore, but would retain a very safe seat to the west. The new seat includes all of Greene and Montgomery counties, and most of Albany and Schenectady counties, and several towns in Ulster County to the south. In the Assembly Greene is being split into two separate districts. Assemblyman Pete Lopez would continue to represent Ashland, Windham, Durham, Greenville, New Baltimore, Coxsackie, and Cairo in the proposed 102 District which now also includes Coeymans, Westerlo, and Rensselaerville in Albany County, all of Schoharie County, and towns in Otsego, Herkimer, and Oneida counties in what will continue to be a very safe district for him. The southern half of Greene County -- Athens, Catskill, Hunter, Jewett, Lexington, Halcott, and Prattsville -- would be in the proposed 101st Assembly District, which also includes much of eastern Delaware County, four Ulster County towns, and two Orange County towns, and Germantown and Clermont in Columbia County.

• In Columbia County, the Senate District used to be dominated by Dutchess County, as Poughkeepsie Steve Saland currently represents the area in Albany. In this proposal, Columbia County moves to Senate District 43, paired with all of Rensselaer County and parts of Washington and Saratoga counties to the north. In the Assembly, most of Columbia County is represented by the 106th District including Stuyvesant, Stockport, Hudson, Greenport, Ghent, Claverack, Livingston, Taghkanic, Copake, Ancram, and Gallatin. Millbrook in Dutchess County, interestingly, is no longer in the district, and the candidates (Republican Richard Wager and Democrat Didi Barrett) trying to replace Marc Molinaro for the 103rd Assembly, which is similar to the proposed 106th, live in Millbrook. So while they may fight for the seat in March, they may be in 105th District election in the fall. As mentioned before, Germantown and Clermont join the proposed 101st District, stretching across southern Greene County to parts of Delaware, and Ulster and Orange counties. The rest of Columbia County -- Kinderhook, Chatham, Hillsdale, Austerlitz, Canaan, and New Lebanon -- join most of Rensselaer County and two Washington County towns in the proposed 107th district, which is similar to the area Republican Steve McLaughlin represents, though without any of the Greene County towns it used to include.

Public hearings
No public hearings between Albany and New York City. The closest public hearing to our area is this Mon., Jan. 30 at 10:30 a.m. in the Legislative Office Building, Second Floor in the Hearing Room. (See the complete list of all public hearings after the link below.)

Public Hearing Schedule for Proposed NEW YORK STATE Legislative Redistricting

Common Cause points out other flaws in the plan:
• In the Senate on Long Island the Hispanic and African American communities of Babylon/Islip in Suffolk and Hempstead in Nassau remain cracked between three and four Senate Districts respectively, despite the fact that Long Island is now over 20 percent Black and Hispanic.
• In New York City the new lines are in fact worse than the current ones in various places.
• The Upper West Side has been cracked into four separate Senate Districts up from three.
• South Brooklyn is a mess, worse than current lines. Sunset Park and neighborhoods all throughout South Brooklyn remain cracked as a result of the Marty Golden gerrymander.
• The so-called "Asian district" in Queens includes more of Downtown Flushing and although the population is over 50% Asian on paper, it is a district that continues to split Asian neighborhoods and communities, especially Elmhurst.
• As a result of Senate Republicans' decision to add a 63 Senate district in the Hudson Valley, Ulster County is now divided into four Senate Districts up from two.
• Assembly Democrats correctly moved a 22nd district into Long Island but instead of taking it from New York City, as the actual population figures would have dictated, they kidnapped it from Upstate.

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