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State redistricting, for two less seats, shifts back to Albany's partisan drama

Dec 22, 2010 8:21 am
[caption id="" align="alignright" width="225" caption="New York Conmgressional Districts, as of now... pre-redistricting."][/caption]Capitol Confidential has a fun piece today that draws together two major state news stories of the last week: the final settling of state senate races that gave the legislative body's majority back to the GOP after a two year hiatus of rare Democratic rule, and the reapportionment battle that will decide how New York's congressional delegation will look with two less seats. The story looks at press releases from "the Democratic and Republican press shops," surmising that the two parties "have already swapped identities as completely as in one of those brain-exchange sci-fi movies" and concluding that chances at an independent bipartisan commission for redistricting are rapidly shrinking.

The piece continues...

Here’s the Democratic statement (attributed to John Sampson and Martin Dilan), which amounts to the sort of foot-stomping and finger-wagging previously seen from the GOP minority — the word “should” makes what will likely be the first of many appearances by the new minority conference:

“As we begin to assess the new Census data New York uses to draw its political lines, Senate Republicans are already making it clear they will not keep their pledge to reform state government through non-partisan redistricting.

“On the day they claimed the Majority the GOP broke their first promise – Senate Republicans signed onto Mayor Koch’s NY Uprising pledge, but incoming Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos is now refusing to take a firm position on nonpartisan redistricting. Imagine how many other election promises will be broken in the New Year.

“We are disappointed that New York will lose two congressional districts as a result of the 2010 Census. This must serve as a wake-up call to state government to improve our economy and grow New York’s population, especially Upstate and in Western New York.

“We look forward to receiving actual redistricting data in March. The redistricting data will inform us where New York has gained or lost population and guide us in the redrawing of district boundaries for the House of Representatives and State Legislature.

“Senators truly committed to reform should support both an independent redistricting process and new district lines that will fairly represent all New Yorkers without bias or partisan advantage that disenfranchises key regions of the state and in diverse communities.

“The main source of Albany’s dysfunction is the absence of competitive elections which stem from the drawing of partisan political lines that protect political incumbents instead of preserving the public’s interest. Non-partisan redistricting, broad ethics reform, and continued improvements to the state’s electoral system will ensure more voter participation and instill greater faith in our government.”

In case you’re wondering: Sampson is listed as a Hero of Reform on the NY Uprising website (just like Skelos and, uh, Vincent Leibell), while Dilan is listed as an Enemy. Pedro Espada Jr., however, seems to have been dumped as a Hero.

And here’s the GOP response (from spokesman Scott Reif), which emphasizes several issues completely unrelated to redistricting reform — similar to previous Democratic releases parrying Republican foot-stomping and finger-wagging with an emphasis on economic issues:

“Our new Senate Republican majority will enact a comprehensive package of reforms so New Yorkers can have faith in their government once again. However, in the immediate term we are focused on working with the Governor-elect to balance the budget, reduce spending and taxes and help the private sector create jobs for workers who need them, and we are hopeful that the Senate Democrats will join us.”

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