Saturday, April 30, 2011

NYTimes editorial on legislative redistricting is a good read

Our editorial page consistently has called for redistricting reform in New York state.
Specifically, legislators — state and county — need to get out of the business of picking their constituents, thus guaranteeing their re-election, and return to voters the power of deciding who gets elected. This requires resisting the temptation to control the drawing of legislative districts, which, in turn, requires giving that power to independent commissions.
Today, the New York Times weighs in editorially on how state lawmakers, employing “the usual stupid Legislature tricks … are conspiring to keep their jobs for life.” The editorial, “Dithering on Redistricting,” calls out Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Gov. Andrew Cuomo and challenges them to deliver. It’s a heck of a good read, with nice links to two  gerrymandered districts. One link is to the district of state Sen. James Seward, R-Oneonta, ( whose district stretches all over creation in search of solidly Republican voters — including all of Greene County. Unsurprisingly, Seward was unchallenged in the 2010 election.
We have written on this topic frequently with regard to state legislative districts, most recently in three editorials (“Redistricting stalls,” Feb. 23, 2011,; “No delay on redistricting, March 17, 2011,; and “Politics of distraction,” April 19. 2011,
The March 17 editorial, which keyed on the increasing number of state legislators reneging on campaign promises to support redistricting reform, drew a spirited rejoinder from state Sen. John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope, who is sponsoring a constitutional amendment that would bring redistricting reform to New York in 2022. (“All I expect is the truth,” March 22, 2011,
We responded that Mr. Bonacic had some good points, but rather vainly — and mistakenly — had concluded he, rather than what the voters need, was the subject of the editorial.
The April 19 editorial noted how former New York City Mayor Ed Koch was naming names of the reneging legislators, including the Hudson Valley’s very own Sen. William Larkin, R-Cornwall. Larkin, who had pledged during his re-election campaign to support redistricting reform, was saying “redistricting is not a priority in this state.”
To read the Times editorial, which concludes that “the practice of allowing legislators to draw their own districts is a basic reason that Albany’s government is a national disgrace,” click here
By the by, Ulster County legislators are now trying to do the same thing to redistricting at the county level (“Proposed Ulster County legislative districts come under fire,” April 29, 2011,



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