The Kabuki Dance Redistricting Incumbent Protection One-Party NY Fix is In - The Jewish Voice
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Monday, July 4, 2022

The Kabuki Dance Redistricting Incumbent Protection One-Party NY Fix is In

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By Gary Tilzer
In common English usage, a kabuki dance is an action that is designed to create the appearance of an uncertain outcome, when in fact the actors have worked together to determine the outcome beforehand

Despite the fact that New Yorkers have voted twice for independent redistricting of legislative and congressional districts lines which are redrawn after every 10-year census, the map drawing has traditionally been meticulously, if sometimes awkwardly, controlled by incumbent Albany lawmakers. In Sept when a new Independent Redistricting Commission created by the voters was supposed to produce the first draft of the new Assembly, Senate and Congressional lines, the redistricting commission could not agree on a proposal. Democrats and Republicans on the redistricting commission each drafted their own planWash Post.


New Yorkers who will be voting for Congress, State Senate, and Assembly next November, have no idea for whom they will be voting for. Candidates who want to challenge sitting lawmakers are losing campaign, fundraising time while Albany insider’s delay the redistricting process, to help incumbent office holders. It looks like the party in control of both houses, will end up drawing the new district maps in their Albany offices. The Republican’s hope is the courts, which has showed a reluctance to get involved in gerrymandering, but in the past has appointed special masters to draw the lines.
After the redistricting commission deadlocked the legislature leaders voted on a new last-minute law, that they called “reform,” giving the legislature the power to draw the new district lines, if new Independent Redistricting Commission leaders cannot come to an agreement on new district lines, by January 2022. This so-called reform was passed by Albany less than a month after NY voters rejected lawmakers drawing new lines for a second time. The curious thing about this vote is that the amendment voted on by the voters in 2014 already stated that if the commission is deadlocked the legislature will draw the lines. Why did the Democratic supermajority in Albany do an end-run around the public popular will for independent redistricting, and the 2014 Independent Redistricting Commission amendment, approved by the NYS voters? To block a court challenge?
The Republican Vice Chair of the Redistricting Commission Jack Martins blasted state legislative leaders for trying to sabotage the process, as the reason the commission is deadlocked. Martins cited lack of funding for the commission, which delayed the commission hiring of staff and acquiring office space. But Democratic appointees emphasized that these maps are merely draft versions that allow New Yorkers greater options in deciding which ones they prefer, at public hearing required by the 2014 amendment. “Everything at this moment doesn’t have to be perfect,” Eugene Benger, a Democratic appointee, said. The Democrats also blamed a four-month delay in the release of the census data needed to craft the maps. The delay gave mappers just under a month to draw the district lines.
Good Government Groups Have for Decades Opposed District Lines Being Drawn by Lawmaker are Acting Strange or are Silent
Even the good government group Common Cause/NY supported this year’s bill giving the power back to the legislature to draw the maps if the commission was deadlocked. The governor cited the good government support as one of the reasons she signed the new redistricting law. It is important to note: In 2014 Common Cause opposed the redistricting proposal, whose executive director, Susan Lerner, said: “We should not be memorializing partisan control of redistricting — this requires it,” she said. “There is a set of voting rules that is dependent on who is in the majority of either house.” She said, “the criteria for redistricting are deliberately structured so they can do anything they want to with the maps and not provide guidance for the courts.” Instead of tinkering with the system now, Ms. Lerner said in 2014, “we have time between now and 2022 to set up a good system through statute or a constitutional amendment. If we settle for the crumbs that the Legislature is willing to give us, then we don’t actually get reform.”
Redistricting to Politicians is Like Drugs are to A Junkie They Don’t Care What the Public Sees or Understands
In spite of the judge’s 2014 put down of the redistricting reforms proposal Gov. Cuomo said at that time, New Yorkers should support the proposal, which he negotiated with Assembly Speaker Silver and State Senate Majority Leader Skelos. Silver and Skelos after pay to play legislature careers both left office for jail.
In 2014 Justice Patrick J. McGrath exposed the easily evaded reform process of the Independent Charter Commission, when he ordered the Board of Elections to delete the word “independent” from the description of Proposal #1 that appeared on the 2014 ballot since the commission members would in fact be named by the State Legislature, which according to the amendment could also reject the commission’s redistricting recommendations. The judge said, “Legislative semantics do not change the reality that the commission’s plan is little more than a recommendation to the Legislature, which can reject it for unstated reasons and draw its own lines.”
In spite of the judge’s put down of the redistricting reforms proposal Gov. Cuomo said at that time, New Yorkers should support the proposal, which he negotiated with Assembly Speaker Silver and State Senate Majority Leader Skelos. Silver and Skelos after pay to play legislature careers both left office for jail. Cuomo who resigned under fire is currently being investigated by the FBI and Justice Department, for cover-up deaths in nursing homes and sexual abuse of his staff.
Since the days of Tammany Hall, NYS legislatures every ten years, despite every member of those houses promising during their campaigns to be transparent and accountable on everything they do, have always ignored the NYS Constitution which prevents them from drawing any lines they wish. The NYS Constitution states “districts must be compact, contiguous, and have roughly the same number of residents as practicable. They cannot be drawn to “discourage competition” or favor incumbents.” NYS gerrymandered redistricting process has not only been unconstitutional it is undemocratic. The highly partisan process is responsible for the dysfunction that has become synonymous with Albany. The main reason that that 95% of Albany corrupt or clueless incumbent lawmakers are reelected, is that it is impossible for the voters to oppose or protest against their elected officials when their neighborhoods, religious, ethnic, and racial groups are cut-up into several districts which makes it near impossible for community leaders to organize against them.
The goal of redistricting is to give the voters of every district to have influence on their elected officials. The goal of redistricting is to have the representative serve the particular needs of his or her community, which is impossible if the elected officials district cuts through several neighborhoods with unique needs. The high reelection rates caused by the gerrymandering of districts done by partisan map makers, give the elected officials to avoid problems like affordable housing, homelessness and flooding, in the Bronx alone four congressional members represent the Northwest flood zone.
This Year with One-Party in Control of Both Albany Legislature Bodies It Appears in the End the New Redistricting Lines Will Help the Party in Control
This year state NYS began the once-a-decade process of redrawing congressional and state legislative district lines under a new system approved by voters back in 2014. The voters wanted elected officials district lines to be drawn by a commission appointed by an independent commission. The NYS Independent Redistricting Commission was supposed to approve a first draft version of new state and congressional district maps last sept 15th. Instead, they put out two competing versions after Democratic and Republican members failed to reach consensus by January. All the Democrats on the panel need to do now is sit on their hands, as the whole thing would then be given to their buds in the Legislature to take out their carving knives and do in the GOP.
From the NY Times May 30, 2017: Self-interested politicians have no business making maps with the sole purpose of keeping themselves and their party in power. The need for those limits is growing only more urgent as voter data and computer-mapping technologies become more sophisticated, and politicians become more brazen in their efforts to protect their power. . . Three states, along with Ohio, Texas, Virginia, and Florida, all share one feature: one-party control of the redistricting process. . .  The bottom line is that politicians can’t be trusted to draw maps that fairly represent their constituents, and they won’t willingly give up the power once they have it. So, it’s up to the courts to step in and set clear rules. At least three justices believe otherwise. In a strongly worded dissent from last week’s ruling, Justice Samuel Alito Jr., joined by Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and Justice Anthony Kennedy, argued that the right place to resolve partisan gerrymandering disputes was in the political arena. Otherwise, Justice Alito said, the courts will “be transformed into weapons of political warfare,” inviting “the losers in the redistricting process to seek to obtain in court what they could not achieve in the political arena.” But that’s precisely the problem. How are “the losers” supposed to fight on a battlefield that the winners have systematically tilted against them?
In 2020, incumbent Democratic Max Rose lost to Republican Nicole Malliotakis 137,198 46.8% to 155,608 53.1% in the Staten Island/Brooklyn congressional district, which could still be the 11th district depending on redistricting. Rose recently Tweeted: “I’m running for Congress in #NY11 because I can’t sit by while Republicans tear us apart just to hold onto power. The America we believe in is possible – one that is safe, affordable, and fair. All we need are leaders willing to risk it all to fight for it.” The buzz among the insiders who belong to NYC’s political class is that Rose will receive after redistricting a more Democratic leaning district. Looking at the demographics and voting patterns in Southern Brooklyn that just elected the first Republican Assemblywoman, Inna Vernikov, the Albany map makers have their work cut out.

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