Scandal Pushes Back Final Council District Maps

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In mid-November, news broke that the map-drawing commission was making some eleventh hour moves. There was a change to the final draft map, which moved a single block in Brooklyn. It happened to include the home of Vito Lopez, the assemblyman who was censured over sexual harassment allegations.

Lopez is believed to be eying a run for city council, and that new district will be an open seat.

The change to the map set off a political firestorm in city hall that ultimately singed Speaker Christine Quinn, whom many thought had OK'd the move. The Speaker adamantly denies this.

“I’ve had no conversations with any districting commissioner. Period. None,” she said at a press conference in early December. She vowed to push for the defeat of the Lopez-tinged maps.

Ultimately the scandal prompted the commission to rescind the map. City lawyers granted the request.

Jerry Goldfeder, an election lawyer, believes it was the right move. "We want commissions who submit lines to respond to the public and redraw them if they feel it's necessary,” he said.

The districting commission has scheduled a new round of hearings to collect more feedback from the public before finalizing a map. But Susan Lerner of Common Cause hopes it's an opportunity to address broader concerns that the maps are more about politics than communities.

"There are concerns about some of the decisions that were made particularly because we are concerned that they were made on a political basis and not based on the demographics,” she said

The districting commission's next hearing is in Manhattan on January 7th. The commission hopes to have its next final draft map to the Council for a vote by early February.