Gov. Cuomo should demand that an independent commission draw statewide district maps, and reject the current gerrymandered maps proposed by a legislature task force, according to an editorial published today in The New York Times.
New York’s Legislature is reportedly planning to offer Gov. Andrew Cuomo a bipartisan and utterly sleazy redistricting deal. If he will approve their new gerrymandered districts for the next decade, Assembly and State Senate leaders will propose a constitutional amendment they promise will improve the way the state draws election districts — in 2022. Mr. Cuomo must keep his promise and veto the Legislature’s self-serving maps.
Why should anyone believe this gang? During the 2010 campaign a majority of these same lawmakers signed a pledge to create an independent redistricting process to draw fair districts in time for this year’s vote. Of course, once they settled back into their cushioned seats, they decided it was better to wait another 10 years.
Gerrymandering is one of the main reasons for Albany’s stagnation and corruption. Districts are drawn to ensure the same politicians keep getting re-elected. Legislators, who know their leaders have guaranteed their jobs and perks, won’t dare to challenge their iron rule.
Governor Cuomo vowed repeatedly during his own 2010 race that he would veto redistricting maps that were not created by an independent commission. There is no independent commission. And the maps drawn by the same old legislative crew have all of the old tricks. Their first set for state districts rightly drew widespread protests. Revised maps are expected to be only slightly less galling.
These same mapmakers were supposed to draw new Congressional districts — shrinking New York’s 29 districts down to 27 to reflect the 2010 census. They couldn’t agree on who would take the fall. So, the federal courts have taken over. A special magistrate has begun an open and transparent process and the maps should be ready by March 12. That is just enough time for candidates to file petitions to get on the June Congressional primary ballot.
The lawmakers also can’t be trusted to draw their own districts. Mr. Cuomo should veto their next offering — and make clear that he will keep on vetoing. Then the courts should take over.
The New York Times also has an update on the ongoing redistricting process:
On Friday, lawyers for the Assembly Democrats and the Senate Republicans submitted critiques of each other’s Congressional redistricting maps for the judge to consider. The Democrats said the Republican plan would contort the boundaries of several districts that have large minority populations, while the Republicans said the Democratic plan would make it harder for Republican incumbents to win re-election.
The judge also solicited Congressional maps from the general public, and several people submitted proposals to the court (“I am a redistricting hobbyist,” one wrote by way of introduction). Other submissions came from incumbent members of Congress: for example, Representative Yvette D. Clarke, a Brooklyn Democrat, offered her own proposal for how her district’s boundaries should be redrawn.
Good-government groups and Albany lawmakers continue to debate whether Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, should seek to compromise with legislative leaders on this year’s maps in return for a constitutional amendment that would create an independent redistricting process beginning in 2022.
Several Senate Democrats said on Friday that such a deal would be unacceptable. “New York’s voters would have to accept 10 more years of hyperpartisan, racially discriminatory maps to get this too-little, too-late reform,” said Senator Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat.
The magistrate judge, Roanne L. Mann, will hold a public hearing in Brooklyn on Monday on the Congressional proposals. She then will have only a few days to draft her own map: the panel of three federal judges that is overseeing the redistricting process has asked Judge Mann to produce her plan by the following Monday.
And in Albany, legislative leaders said they were completing a revised set of maps for the Senate and the Assembly, although it was not clear when those maps would be released.