After keeping hundreds of people waiting hours for the announced hearing on a Republican map for Nassau County redistricting, the Legislature, at 1 am, adjourned the measure until March 5, the last day for the Legislature to adopt a redistricting plan.
The proposed plan has been widely derided as blatant gerrymandering in order to give Republicans a permanent 12-7 majority, but by delaying the vote to March 5, the deadline according to the County Charter, for having a new map in place, the Republicans manufacture their own crisis.
According to the information posted on the legislative calendar, two amendments will be proposed to the Feb. 6 map. The proposed changes are that Legislator Dave Denenberg's house will be restored his current district LD-19, and the area known as Jericho Gardens will be restored to Robert Troiano's district LD-2, noted Lisa Oldendorp, Regional Organizer, LI Council of MoveOn.org
"All the other weirdly-shaped, gerrymandered districts appear the same as the Feb. 6 map. Approximately 350,000 voters will be moved into new districts. There seems to be no consideration of all our other objections to the slicing and dicing of the many communities of interest we spoke up for this past Monday," she said.
(See the proposed map: http://www.nassaucountyny.gov/agencies/Legis/Meetings/2013/documents/map1-74-13.pdf)
Oldendorp, who has circulated a petition to have the Legislature consider alternative proposals, related her account of the February 26 meeting when it was widely expected that the County Legislature would vote to adopt the Republican proposed redistricting map: "I arrived at the Legislative building around 12:15 and left a hard copy of the petition with your comments for [Nassau County Executive Ed] Mangano. Then I entered the Legislative Chamber. The room, which held 251 people, was packed by 12:30, with many people waiting in the outside room. Business unrelated to redistricting was called first after a half-hour late 1:30 start.
"At about 3:45, proceedings for the proposed redistricting map began. A huge majority of the speakers condemned the map. I heard only one speaker talk in favor of it and one person, while not speaking against the map, urged the legislators to work together to find a solution. Several lawyers pointed out that if this map is passed, it will most certainly go to court, wasting taxpayer time and money.
"Finally, at nearly 8:30 pm, I was called to speak. I presented the SignOn petition to the board with nearly 2,000 signatures in just a week's time. I read the "background statement" which declares why we are opposed to the GOP map. I had the petition officially entered into the record, so if there's a court case, the opposition will be 'on the record.'
"Legislator Denise Ford, a registered Democrat who usually votes with the Republicans, asked several questions about the United Coalition map, a non-partisan map. The legislators also asked Brian Paul, a researcher for Common Cause, about the United Coalition map. He said that great attention was given to town lines and school districts. Paul also stated that the GOP map was a "step backwards." The United Coalition map moves about 200,000 voters, while the GOP map moves almost 360,000 voters.
"Legislator Judy Jacobs asked if Common Cause maps had ever been adopted by the State. Paul replied that a NYS Federal Court adapted huge portions of a Common Cause map in another legal case. In the other case, eventually, a map Master will make the final map.
"A third map drawn up by the Democrats on the Temporary Redistricting Commission was mentioned several times, but not discussed in detail. This map moves about 20,000 voters into new districts and resembles the current map (2003) the most closely.
"The meeting finally was adjourned shortly before 1am--without a vote," she said, attributing that to the public pressure on the Republican Majority.
She noted that the petition she organized was sent to the GOP legislators and County Executive Mangano every few days, so they were aware that opposition to their gerrymandered map was growing.
"So, what can we do?" she writes in an email to supporters. "We can exercise our right to speak. (I would say 'to be heard,' but it doesn't seem like the GOP is listening very well.) Please make every effort to attend the hearing, sign up to speak, and to get your objections on the record. Most likely, our next step will be the courts."
Nassau County United Redistricting Coalition has been formed of six good-government organizations to oppose the partisan redistricting map: Common Cause/NY, La Fuente-Long Island Civic Participation Project, Latino Justice PRLDEF, League of Women Voters of Nassau County, Long Island Civic Engagement Table, and Nassau County Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union. The coalition has offered its own non-partisan proposal but the Republicans have not allowed the map - or the Democratic proposal - to be considered.
The March 5 meeting takes place in Nassau County Legislative Chambers, 1550 Franklin Ave., Mineola beginning at 10am (tickets to enter are given out at 9:30).
For information, see the Nassau County website, www.nassaucountyny.gov/agencies/Legis/Meetings/2013/03-5-2013.html.
Oldendorp is urging people to continue to sign the petition:
Karen Rubin, Long Island Populist Examiner
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