Thursday, March 22, 2012
Today on "The Capitol Pressroom":
Assembly members Hakeem Jeffries and Rory Lancman will join us--separately--to talk about their runs for Congress.
And Susan Lerner of Common Cause interprets the new Congressional Maps for us.
For show archives, please visit The Capitol Bureau's website here.
Monday, March 19, 2012
As expected, Magistrate Judge Roanne Mann's proposed congressional map plan today. With only a few minor changes, the three-judge court accepted the 27 districts where candidates seeking to be on the primary ballot June 26 will be able to begin collecting signatures tomorrow.
"In the face of an outdated congressional districting plan, the application of which
would plainly violate the requirements of federal law, and of the New York legislature’s
complete abdication of its congressional redistricting duty, this court is obliged not only to
recognize a violation of law but also to create a new redistricting plan to ensure against the
disenfranchisement of state voters in the 2012 congressional elections," the judges wrote in their judgement.
The changes made by the three judges can be seen below after the jump.
Plaintiffs in the case, in particular the lawyers working on behalf of the Senate Republicans, had argued before the three-judge court that Mann should have taken the present districts' cores and incumbents into account in her maps. Additionally, a number of arguments before the court sought for specific communities--namely the African American community in Harlem; the Dominic and Latino communities in northern Manhattan, the Bronx and northern Queens; and the Jewish community in southern Brooklyn--to get districts they felt were fairer. The court rejected all these arguments.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Federal magistrate judge Roanne Mann posted her final recommended congressional maps online late Monday. The plans show only slight changes from the original draft maps. Most notably, Mann reconfigured the Voting Rights Act-protected majority black districts in Brooklyn. Local lawmakers and community organizers were upset over the first set of maps they say unfairly divided communities that had traditionally been represented in the same district.
Mann's new maps appear to rejoin the Fort Greene and Clinton Hill neighborhoods with the western-most district currently represented by Congressman Ed Towns.
Participants in the federal case that kick-started the court's drawing of new congressional lines will have until Wednesday to file their objections. The three-judge panel will convene on Thursday March 15 and hold a public hearing to receive feedback on the proposal. The anticipation is the court will vote agree on lines before the start of petitioning for the congressional primary on March 20.
Meanwhile, New York's legislature has put forth maps for its own set of seats. No congressional plan has been presented by lawmakers, which may be the final sign the legislature is abdicating its constitutional responsibility to draw the state's congressional lines.
Monday, March 12, 2012
Late on Sunday, the state legislature finally released their plans for new Senate and Assembly districts. While the public hasn’t been shown any actual maps as of this writing, Governor Andrew Cuomo took to the airwaves to weigh in on the proposal.
“They put forth lines. They consulted with my people in redoing the lines. They made changes. They lines are far from perfect but I believe they made progress on the lines,” Cuomo said.
While the Governor did promise a veto of the lines if the total package—“better” lines, a constitutional amendment to change future redistricting, and a statute that would put the process change into law—he warned those who see a veto as the best chance for seeing the best lines possible.
"I bet you they're 98 percent the same,” Cuomo said, suggesting that the Assembly and Senate proposals for congress were the starting points for the magistrate’s lines.
Really? Let’s take a quick run through, courtesy of the CUNY Graduate Center’s Center for Urban Research, of some examples to test that claim.
Here’s Long Island—the Assembly’s plan, the Senate’s Plan and the magistrate’s plan.
You'll notice that in both legislative maps, and more so in the Senate's map, the districts on Long Island are drawn north to south. In the magistrate's maps the districts are east to west, and are significantly more compact.
Here’s Western New York, same comparison.
The biggest difference between in these maps I think is how the magistrate handled the Buffalo area. Unlike the Assembly and Senate maps, the Buffalo area is wholly inside its own district, instead of being divided up in the legislative maps. Likewise the Pennsylvania border area in Western New York is in one district in the magistrates plan, versus two in each of the legislators' maps.
“It certainly doesn't appear like the courts maps are…close to anything that exists or have been proposed, with the exception of Common Cause's maps,” said Steven Romalewski, director of the mapping services at CUNY.
There has been considerable debate about the quality and fairness of the lines—as the Governor pointed out—but one thing is for certain: the only thing that’s 98 percent similar between the magistrate’s maps and the state legislators is the fact they’re all drawn in New York State.
Thursday, March 08, 2012
Today on "The Capitol Pressroom":
Political Science Professor Dr. Gerry Benjamin of SUNY New Paltz joins us with some thoughts on the provisions that we should look for –- and look out for -- in a possible constitutional amendment on redistricting.
Barbara Bartoletti of the League of Women Voters shares her analysis of the Congressional lines as they currently stand.
Monica Arias Miranda, President and CEO of the Hispanic Coalition NY, announced this week she is running for State Senate in the 46th District to unseat incumbent Neil Breslin.
How information is made available online "fundamentally controls what can be done with it", according to the Sunlight Foundation. Today we meet Sean Brady, President of Prism Decision Systems, who is pushing New York State to create an open data portal which provides users with data in "non-proprietary formats". What's that mean? Why is it important? And how would it differ from NY's current open government initiatives?
For show archives, please visit The Capitol Bureau's website here.
Wednesday, March 07, 2012
In a forceful letter to magistrate judge Roanne Mann, Brooklyn Assemblyman and head of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Caucus, Karim Camara made it clear he was not keen on the way Brooklyn's two historically black congressional districts had fared in the judge's draft maps.
Camara has a two-fold beef: the district that closely tracks Rep. Yvette Clarke's district--a mostly ethnically Caribbean area--now shoots north to pickup the historic African American neighborhoods of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, while the Rep. Ed Towns doppelganger district is now shooting all the way down to Coney Island. To do this Towns' district has to pick up a large chunk of mostly white neighborhoods in southeastern Brooklyn.
"These neighborhoods have nothing in common – racially, culturally, geographically, ideologically or socioeconomically – with the African-American neighborhoods of central and east Brooklyn and it would be a grave mistake to include them," Camara writes.
He goes on to blast the judge for drawing both Congressman Towns and one of his rivals for the job, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, out of the district they've been running to represent.
"The plan proposed by the court will short-circuit a democratic contest that is already underway, possibly depriving hundreds of thousands of African-American and Latino voters the opportunity to support the candidate of their choice," Camara writes.
If you look at the voting age population the Department of Justice would be looking at when they review Voting Rights Act-protected districts (the judge's plans wouldn't be reviewed by DoJ), Mann's maps would make Towns' district 51.5 percent black and Clarke's district 51.3 percent. Compare that to the Assembly's (51.9/51.6) and the state Senate's (52.9/51.1) maps for Towns and Clarke respectively.
So what would Camara have the judge do? "...Coney Island would more clearly benefit from inclusion in the new NY-9," he writes. "NY-9 could move south from the neighborhoods of Flatbush and Midwood, adding Gravesend and Coney Island. Eastern Parkway could then serve as NY-9’s northern border."
The Assemblyman then suggests Towns' district would "take back in Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights and southern Williamsburg, communities that were inexplicably removed simply to accommodate the addition of Coney Island."
Without a new map, it's hard to know how that would effect the delicate balance happening to keep both districts black majority districts. One thing is certain: we're told we can expect more push back on the judge's lines in the coming days as black and Latino leaders mobilize for what they see as an unfair process.
Camara's full letter is after the jump.
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
With the release of her draft maps, magistrate judge Roanne Mann moved the congressional redistricting process forward in a major way. But these aren't the first set of maps that have been the focus of intense speculation. Most recently the senate and assembly both presented the courts with plans that got treated with significant interest by the the media, commentators and the public.
A number of people, including potential candidates for congress, have referred to these lines in relation to the state legislature's own process for redrawing maps.
"We should not jump to the conclusion that these will be the final lines, as the state legislature may yet come to an agreement on a map that would supersede the proposal released today," said Tom Wilson, who has been playing a run against Republican Congresswoman Nan Hayworth in the Hudson Valley.
"We sincerely hope that Albany gets its act together and agrees on more sensible congressional lines so that the Special Master's proposal doesn't become law," said The Woodhaven Residents' Block Association after seeing their neighborhood divide between two districts in Mann's plan.
Which raises the question, are these the lines we'll have for the next ten years?
The answer could be yes. First, a note on the schedule for the court's process. All the groups and individuals involved in the Favors case Judge Mann is presiding over need to have written comments on her proposal in by 9 am tomorrow, March 7. There's been speculation she may call the parties back into court to discuss what they say later this week.
But what's certain is the magistrate judge will have a revised, final set of proposed maps to the three-judge panel overseeing this whole process by Monday, March 12. Then, the parties will again be able to comment on the maps directly to the three-judge panel before the panel meets on March 15. The expectation is that a final decision on the maps will be made shortly thereafter, as petitioning to get on the congressional primary ballot begins two weeks from today.
There remains an outside chance the legislature could step up and pass congressional maps before the three-judge panel does next week. It would require not only passing the maps, but changing the date of the congressional primary from June 26 to a later date. The federal judge that set the June date, Judge Sharpe, left the door open for this to happen, but so far the senate and assembly have been unable to come to an agreement on a date.
Oh, yeah: the legislature also needs to get both the Department of Justice to sign off on the maps--something they have up to 60 days to do--and Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign them. He's promised to veto maps if they remain "hyper-partisan."
Common Cause's Susan Lerner praised the maps, calling the proposal "a vast improvement over the self-serving interests of the Legislature," while Citizens Union's Dick Dadey said, "The Congressional maps presented today by the court show that an independent process can produce better districts than those drawn by the legislature." Were these the sort of hypo-partisan maps the Governor was imagining?
Still, according to one line of thinking, it might come down to whether or not the congressional delegation is all that unhappy about the maps. Some, like Representative Gary Ackerman, have signaled they're fine with what's presented and are ready to run. Others, like Congressman Jerry Nadler, barely saw their districts move. Others still, like a good chunk of the Long Island delegation, might simply see the redrawn districts as good enough and move in.
In a sense, it may come down to whether or not a critical mass develops among the delegation; if there's not a fight from them for better lines, should the state legislature even bother?
So far, it's uncertain where things stand on this point. Both Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader, through a spokesman, have indicated they'd still like to make a deal on congressional districts. They'd better hurry. Time's running out.
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
Just hours after a federal judge's proposed congressional maps were picked up by the media, Assemblyman Rory Lancman, who had intended to run against Republican Congressman Bob Turner, saw himself drawn into an entirely new district--one without an incumbent--in the judge's plans.
The Special Master’s lines came out today, and while I can’t predict what the final lines will ultimately look like, the Special Master’s district six is centered around my home and communities that I have represented in the Assembly, on the community board and as a civic leader for over twenty years. I look forward to the opportunity to run for Congress when the lines are finalized.
Let's take a look at that proposed 6th district. For starters, this appears to be pretty close to the district AALDEF and other community groups proposed District 5 in their UNITY map:
And the court's District 6 map:
A quick look at the voting age population of the new district:
Which is all to say, the district's voting age population in majority minority, and the largest chunk in that group is the Asian community. It will be interesting, if these lines become real, to see how that dynamic shapes the candidates in the race.
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
Yesterday, federal magistrate judge Roanne Mann held a hearing to review the proposed congressional maps submitted by the state assembly and senate, as well as groups like Common Cause. Much of the hearing was over the scope the parties hoped the judge would take--the legislative houses and others pushed the judge to make the scope narrower, to look at the existing districts as starting points, and to consider incumbency.
Well, Judge Mann worked fast: below are the draft congressional maps released by the court late last night. And as you can see the judge appears to have decided ignored both the state senate and assembly's draft maps for downstate districts.
Some highlights from the city:
- The Asian community centered in Flushing would have an Asian-influenced district in Queens.
- The seat occupied by Bob Turner would cross into Nassau, and would also take on the entire Rockaway Peninsula--and pair Turner with Meeks (h/t Colin Campbell at Politicker)
- The Towns district stretches all the way to Coney Island.
- Grimm's district would move further into Bay Ridge, picking up some of Sheepshead Bay in the process.
- Maloney's district would gobble up the Williamsburg/Greenpoint neighborhoods in North Brooklyn, taking them out of Rep. Nydia Velázquez's district.
- Charlie Rangel's district would remain in Manhattan, moving from the upper west to the upper east side of the island, but would continue the trend of being majority Latino.
- It looks like the court decided to, more than anyone, blow up both the Turner and Ackerman seats.
Colin and I both stand corrected by Queens' own Evan Stavisky. Via Twitter: "Rep. Meeks' district was NOT combined with Turner. Turner's section of the Rockaways was just added to Rep. Meeks' district."