Thursday, March 01, 2012
Here’s an interesting tidbit from the legal process federal magistrate Roanne Mann set up to get as much info as possible before she drafts congressional lines for New York.
In the midst of a massive upload of map plans from the state Assembly and Senate, as well as Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb and community organizations who have drawn their own maps, the issue of taking incumbency into account in the drawing of lines was raised.
At the February 27 hearing that saw Mann charged with coming up with the schedule for drawing maps, the lawyers for the senate and assembly had asked the judge find a way to have incumbency be part of the conversation. In a follow up letter to the judge, Senate Republicans’ lawyer Michael Carvin laid out the case for “why incumbency protection is an appropriate factor for the Court to consider in drawing redistricting maps.”
“Preserving the cores of existing districts—sometimes also referred to as incumbency protection—is a well-established, traditional districting principle in New York,” Carvin writes. He goes on to cite numerous cases to show that “this Court has recognized preserving the cores of existing districts is ‘an important and legitimate factor’ in Congressional redistricting due to ‘the powerful role that seniority plays in the functioning of Congress.’”
It’s not a flat-out refusal to take incumbents into account when drawing new lines, but an order issued by Judge Mann today appears to signal an interest in at least seeing how things look when incumbents aren’t part of the equation. (The entire chronological history of the case can be seen online here.)
The order, issued this morning, tells LATFOR to send over the data they plug into their computer software to draw maps. But there’s a note attached: “No political or other data, including incumbent residence, shall be included with the data provided.”
Wednesday, February 01, 2012
Earlier on Tuesday, Democratic State Senator Martin Malavé Dilan filed a lawsuit in state court challenging the constitutionality of Senate Republicans’ plans to create a new district in the Albany area. The plan would bring the State Senate’s total size up from 62 to 63 seats.
“The lawsuit is being filed because the majority in the New York State Senate failed to follow the constitution of the State of New York, Section 4, which…if you follow the formula strictly it would only result in 62 seats,” Dilan said before the Bronx LATFOR hearing on Tuesday. “This time around they decided needed a 63rd seat; perhaps to continue control of the New York State Senate.”
Dilan’s suit is just another salvo in a pre-emptive strike campaign by opponents of the LATFOR process. As the turbulent process moves into its final stages, these lawsuits become pieces on the board as stakeholders—legislators, non-government groups, the Governor and communities throughout New York—prepare for the redistricting end game.
The lawsuit a ruling that “they”—that is, Senate Republicans—didn’t follow their own, court-approved process for figuring out the number of Senate seats. He said the ruling could happen as soon as a week.] For an explanation of how they got to 63 seats--and why Democrats think they're wrong--check out my earlier piece.]
Dilan’s counterpart on LATFOR, Republican Senator Michael Nozzolio, said before the meeting that he had faith that their attorneys had divined the number of senate seats correctly and that the court would agree.
“The constitution of the state of New York will decide this. Not Senator Dilan. Not Senator Nozzolio. Not the Senate entirely,” Nozzolio said. “We certainly believe the analysis done by the attorneys is accurate. We believe the court will ultimately confirm that.”
As mentioned, the complaint filed by Senator Dilan in state court is asking a judge to find the Republicans “failed to apply the Senate size formula prescribed in Section 4 consistently, rationally or in good faith.”
The question facing whichever judge hears the case is whether or not the case is “ripe”—that is, if the issue in the case is fully formed enough to decide. What will likely come down to in this case is whether or not the Senate declaring its intent to create the district is enough.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Last time I saw Sean Coffey, he was sitting on a stage in Manhattan with three other candidates for attorney general back in 2010, arguing why he should get the job.
He didn’t end up winning the five-way primary (Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice wasn’t at the event), but he’s since joined up with Common Cause and on Tuesday gave testimony at the LATFOR meeting in the Bronx. Draft state Senate and Assembly maps were released last week, and the Tuesday hearing was the first in a second round being held in New York City over the next week.
“The second round of LATFOR hearings could be for one of two purposes,” Coffey said outside of the hearing room at the Bronx Museum of the Arts just before the meeting. “One, it could be to travel to some parts of the state, and hear from citizens about what they think about the draft plans—and amend them to reflect the concerns expressed and, in some cases, the significant concerns expressed about the draft plans.”
“The other, less benevolent reason good be [that] it’s a kabuki show,” he said, “that they’re going around and make believe they’re going to listen to input and tweak these egregiously drawn maps a little bit and say that they’ve somehow accommodated the people who’ve testified.”
Friday, January 27, 2012
Today on "The Capitol Pressroom":
Senator Mike Nozzolio on the maps.
Senator Mike Gianaris on the maps.
Reporters Kyle Hughes of NYSNYS.com and Rick Karlin of the Albany Times Union on the maps.
And political strategist & University of Albany adjunct professor Bruce Gyory on anything other than the maps.
For show archives, please visit The Capitol Bureau's website here.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
At least that's what Todd Breitbart, the leading technical voice blasting Senate Republicans, appears to have figured out.
According to his analysis, the Republicans' Washington DC-based lawyer Michael Carvin used the data set released back in March:
The population counts shown in his table, "2010 Senate Size Calculation," are from the Census Bureau's March 2010 redistricting data release (the PL94-171 data). These counts - the state total, the 'ratio of apportionment,' the county totals and the figures for the parts of the Bronx - reflect neither the subtraction of the prison populations nor the reallocation of prisoners to their prior home addresses.
Now, this shouldn't be surprising: only at yesterday's LATFOR meeting was the prisoner reallocation issue--though agreed to in principle last month--officially accepted.
Breitbart's point--and I'm sure we'll see this increasingly from Senate Democrats--is that the Senate Republican argument that the method used to get to 62 seats in 2002 is the exact same used to get to 63 in 2012 is called into question. If that were the case, why wait until January 2012 when you could have done the work back in March and settled the issue then?
The assumption that's fueling Senate Ds' criticism is that the math to get to 63 wasn't settled back in March, just the desire to do so.
I'll try and follow up with Senator Nozzolio today to check on this, as well as their lawyer Michael Carvin.
Friday, January 06, 2012
Below is the letter that LATFOR has posted on their website justifying the increase of the State Senate from 62 to 63 seats. The move had been anticipated after Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos indicated last week that there was "a good chance" the Senate would add a 63rd seat.
Senate Republicans, according to an official, are saying the methodology used in 2002 to create 62 seats is the same being used now, and that the increase is mandated by the formula set by the New York Constitution.
In a phone interview, Democratic State Senator Michael Gianaris of Queens said Senate Republicans have reached "a new low in old Albany partisan politics."
"Just when we thought we'd turned the corner, with Governor Cuomo leading the way, to a new way of doing business in Albany, the Senate Republicans remind us that they're nothing but everything that's wrong with state government," Gianaris said. He said this gives the Governor even more of a reason to make good on his promise of vetoing the maps LATFOR produces.
One person close to LATFOR noted that Senate Republicans could have, instead of posting a memo at 5 pm on a Friday, made the announcement at the LATFOR public hearing scheduled for this coming Tuesday.
One of the big questions outstanding is whether or not Assembly Democrats cooperated with or were made aware of the Senate Republican's plans to announce the 63rd seat. As the message was posted to the LATFOR site, and one person close to LATFOR said Assembly Democrats were often the ones posting new documentation to the website, there seems to be a very high likelihood.
Monday, December 12, 2011
As the end of the year quickly approaches, New Yorkers are still waiting for the bipartisan, bicameral Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (quizzically acronymed as LATFOR) to produce new maps of state and Federal legislative districts. Later today, a Federal judge may rule on when the state’s new Federally-mandated primary will be. Then again, he may not. As usual, the state’s redistricting process is producing more questions that answer.
One thing is for sure: state prisoners, the bulk of which are housed upstate, will be counted in their last known districts. But just how that counting takes place—and how long that will take—is unknown.
“We said from the outside--and I’ve led the discussion--indicating that all laws are to be complied with," Senator Michael Nozzolio, one of LATFOR’s co-chairs, said during a phone interview last week. “We believe that the counting of prisoners should be as inclusive as possible, and that all should be counted."
Friday, November 18, 2011
By Karen DeWitt, New York Public Radio Capital Bureau Chief
Deliberations over drawing new legislative and congressional districts continue in Albany, as legislators have hit a new hurdle in the complex process.
Lawmakers have decided where to count the prisoners, in the homes they were living before their incarceration, a change that benefits the districts of many Democrats at the expense of Republicans. But they are still arguing about how to count the prisoners, and what kind of computer software and database to use. Task force Co-Chair, Assemblyman Jack McEneny, a Democrat, offered an amendment, but it was rejected by GOP lawmakers.
“Unfortunately, we are still in disagreement,” said McEneny, a Democrat from Albany.
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
The committee is going to meet on Friday, November 18, at 1:30 pm in Albany. At that point, the issues of prisoner reallocation are set to be decided, as well as the calendar for the second round of hearings.
The court's decision on the state's primary date should be decided on November 17, which will certainly play into the meeting. Specifically, if the primary date is moved up, as anticipated, it will compact the next round of hearings to review the maps.
"This does not end. this is only half-time," Nozzolio said, ending public comment section. The committee is going to meet now, and discussing issues.
Now the Senate and Assembly need to draw maps. More than one conversation I've had indicated that Senate Republicans have their maps drawn--but don't expect to see anything until the prisoner reallocation case is decided early next month.
I'll following up with a piece on where things stand later. If you have any specific questions, feel free to email me at chamilton @ wnyc.org.
Assemblywoman Janet Duprey is the final speaker today.
Nozzolio and McEneny have, at other meetings and in other reports, bristled at the idea that independent redistricting would be some sort of magic bullet. I've written here that, indeed, it's not.
A local Democratic Party leader, sitting next to his Republican counterpart, chastised the committee for not giving up the line drawing to an independent commission, which is heavily supported in the polls.
McEneny was--and has been--most forceful in rejecting the idea that there's such a thing as an independent redistricting process. He noted that most independent commissions are appointed by legislators, which makes the idea that the commission is truly independent a sham.
Case in point, noted McEneny: Arizona's independent redistricting chair was impeached yesterday over concerns over the way districts were drawn.
McEneny, who has chaffed at the Governor's veto comments, said it was irresponsible for the Governor to suggest he'd veto districts before he's seen the maps.
"Do you think its a good thing when a chief exec ... says that he's going to veto a piece of leg before he's read it," McEneny asked. "That's not good government."
Thursday, October 27, 2011
This morning the committee in charge of drawing political lines is meeting for the second-to-last time out in Nassau County. LATFOR’s Old Westbury meeting is giving the public another chance to influence the process. But there are major outstanding issues that will certainly be brought up, if not fully addressed:
As we’ve reported, the Senate Republicans are being accused of dragging their feet in complying with a law that would have tens of thousands of mostly upstate prisoners counted back in mostly downstate districts. Assembly Democrats say they’ve already done the math—all they need is the Senate to approve. And the committee’s Senate Republican co-chair Michael Nozzolio has said his side is reviewing. There’s a chance a major announcement on the issue could come today.
Cuomo’s veto threat
Yesterday the Governor made a number of statements regarding his veto threat. By the end it seemed (mostly) apparent that he remains committed to nixing whatever lines the legislators draw. But the Democratic Assembly co-chair John McEneny has told the governor he should see what the committee comes up with first. The problem, of course, is that there’s a zero-sum game being played with Senate Republicans—if they draw “nonpartisan” lines, most observers see a likely Democratic majority in 2013. There are certainly conversations happening behind the scene. To what degree the Governor is pressuring the Senate Republicans, with whom he has a good working relationship, is unknown. The actions and words of the committee members may give a clue.
Communities of interest
Maybe more than anywhere else in the state, Nassau County is a hotbed of discontent for district lines. The county’s Democratic Party won a huge court victory recently over Republican attempts at drawing them out of the majority. And a sitting lawsuit in Federal court over Voting Rights Act violations could, eventually, mean totally new lines. Civil rights and good government groups will make their final arguments before the committee draws linesin support of districts that take racial and ethnic communities more into account.
In all things redistricting, the key issue is time. With primary dates likely coming sooner, getting lines drawn and approved in time is on the minds of everyone involved. If the Governor remains committed to vetoing lines, the whole process will end up in court with even more uncertainty for, in the Governor’s words, “chaos” in the final product. The degree to which avoiding mayhem creeps into the committee members’ comments will be something to watch for.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
I caught up with Senator Michael Nozzolio yesterday, after I hadpublished my piece on LATFOR’s progress with prisoner reallocation. Nozzolio is, of course, the co-chair of the committee, and the Senate Republican Majority’s representative. In the piece I wrote about the Democratically-controlled Assembly’s work to follow the current law that would count predominately upstate prisoners back in the predominately downstate communities for the purposes of redistricting.
Senator Nozzolio sent a letter to LATFOR at the end of last month instructing it to “immediately begin geocoding” the prisoner data. This, understandable, struck some on the Assembly side as odd, considering they’d already done the work and submitted it to LATFOR. Nozzolio made no mention of their work in his letter. He did, however, acknowledge receiving it when asked yesterday, saying the Assembly work deserved “great praise.”
“They did a terrific job,” Nozzolio said before making a clarifying statement: “They [the LATFOR staff] had a responsibility to just not accept [what the Assembly submitted] at total face value without scrutinizing the information.”
Currently, the senator said, LATFOR’s staff of cartographers and “census professionals” are analyzing what the Assembly staff did to see if it passes muster. So far, Nozzolio said, things were looking good.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Last week,a judge heard oral arguments on whether a law requiring New York State prisoners to be counted where they lived prior to being incarcerated for the purposes of redistricting should be upheld. Senate Republicans, who brought the suit, could really use a ruling against the law. Tens of thousands of upstate prisoners have helped boost predominantly rural areas population numbers. The effect has been more upstate seats, held mostly by Republicans.
But until a ruling is handed by the judge in the case—which could be as least as two months from now—LATFOR is bound by the law to draw lines that count prisoners in their communities. All those involved say they’re committed to following the law. That includes Republican Senator Michael Nozzolio, who, in a September 30 letter to the other members of the committee, said LATFOR should “immediately begin” the technical process of correctly identifying which prisoners should be counted where.
The thing is that Nozzolio’s colleagues in the State Assembly, according to documents, have already finished the process, and have submitted the geocoded prisoner database to the LATFOR committee. The Senate Republicans have known their Assembly colleagues have been working on complying with the law since at least the August 10 LATFOR meeting in White Plains, when a representative for the Assembly discussed where they were at in the process with Nozzolio.
A few weeks later they finished, producing documents that detail how they were able to identify 70 percent of prisoners out of the 58,000 in the state could be counted. The other 30 percent were either out-of-state prisoners, Federally incarcerated, or had invalid address for whatever reason.
That was the Friday before Labor Day. Weeks later Nozzolio issued his letter without a mention of the work done by the Assembly. In fact, looking at the letter, it could be read to suggest the Senator is calling for the process to start all over again.
But, as people testifying at LATFOR meetings have noted, the entire process is under both a compressed time frame and a tremendous amount of uncertainty. There’s the Federally mandated—and currently being litigated—requirement that New York move its primary date up in time for overseas service members to mail back ballots. When you add the promised veto by Governor Cuomo, the potential law suits, the time needed before deadlines for candidates to get on the ballot, and a picture of chaos begins to emerge.
With all this uncertainty it’s interesting that Nozzolio and the Senate Republicans—who have the most to lose from prisoner reapportionment—are saying they’ll conform to the law, but in practice aren’t taking the easy road. There doesn’t seem to be any actions accompanying Nozzolio’s letter from last month. A key member of LATFOR wasn’t present at the last public hearing, meaning any discussion about the reallocation process won’t happen until—at the earliest—at the October 27 meeting in Old Westbury.
I reached out to Nozzolio’s office a bit ago to find out why the Senator didn’t mention the work done by Assembly Democrats and to find out what, exactly, would impede his colleagues in the Senate from accepting their methodology. I’ll post their response.
After the jump are the Assembly's documents describing the process they used for reallocating prisoners.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
The state legislature’s redistricting task force is holding public meetings this week in New York City. Today they were in Manhattan hearing testimony from elected officials, good government groups, and any normal people who were inspired to take a day off of work to attend the hearing.
Oh, and Ed Koch.
The former mayor, fresh off his party-crossing coup in the 9th Congressional District, came to shakedown the bicameral committee. He was joined by Dick Dadey, the head of the nonpartisan good government group Citizens Union, and former parks commissioner and founder of NY Civic, Henry Stern.
The Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research—known awkwardly as LATFOR—has been holding meetings around the state to get the public’s feedback on how the decennial process of redrawing the state’s legislative districts should go. Koch and his good government cohorts have been pushing for an independent redistricting plan for over a year.
The New York State legislature was unable to put together a plan before the end of the last session, and so the traditional process—the politicians in the legislature whose districts are being redrawn controlling the process—has begun. This hasn’t made Ed Koch particularly happy.
Monday, August 22, 2011
The senator put out this statement just a bit ago:
Senator Martin Malave Dilan has submitted an amicus brief (“friend of court”) to the State Supreme Court in Albany supporting the constitutionality of the 2010 law requiring prisoners to be counted at their prior “homes of record” for state legislative redistricting. At stake are state legislative districts reflecting proper “one person, one vote” populations.
The amicus brief is submitted in connection with Little v. LATFOR, a challenge to Part XX of Chapter 57 of the laws of 2010. The amicus brief supports the law and urges the court to deny the plaintiffs’ summary judgment motion. LATFOR (Legislative Advisory Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment) is the state legislative task force that develops new legislative redistricting plans and is charged with implementation of the new prisoner counting law.
Included within the brief are copies of written communication between Senator Dilan and the Department of Corrections and Community Services (DOCCS) while he was Co-Chair of LATFOR in 2009-2010 and began implementation of the law. Also included are communications between Senator Dilan and current LATFOR Co-Chairs Senator Michael Nozzolio and Assemblyman John McEneny regarding the need to continue the technical work of reassigning prisoners to their prior residences.
Senator Dilan remains a vocal proponent of LATFOR following current state law and has made repeated demands for LATFOR to continue the work he began. Senator Dilan’s amicus brief filing makes it clear to the court his interest as a LATFOR member to see the law upheld.
A copy of Senator Dilan’s court submission is attached.
Friday, July 29, 2011
After getting a letter earlier this weekfrom a coalition strongly urging the state's redistricting committee to comply with the law, one of its members, Brooklyn senator Martin Malavé Dilan is saying the senate GOP is dragging its feet on counting prisoners where they're from, not where they're incarcerated. Dilan, who is on the LATFOR committee, says the committee has all the information it needs, but hasn't responded to requests for update on compliance.
“There is absolutely no reason, excuse or legal reason for the majority’s defiance of state law,” Dilan said in a statement. “LATFOR has the resources, time and legal obligation to comply with the law.” The letter was sent to Senator Michael Nozzolio of Seneca Fall, co-chair of LATFOR.
Last night, appearing on YNN's "Capital Tonight," the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program Director Wendy Weiser said she believed "there is certainly no legal justification that LATFOR could put forward for not complying with the law" and hinted that a lawsuit might be in order should LATFOR not comply.
That would, of course, be the second suit brought against LATFOR. The senate Republicans are currently suing to keep the prisoner counting law from being enacted, saying the law was passed illegally and will disenfranchise voters that house and count prisoners, counting them in their population.
The senate Republicans have good reason to not want prisoners counted where they're from, as many prisoners are in upstate Republican districts. The population drain would benefit mostly downstate, Democratic districts. This would only exacerbate any "nonpartisan" redistricting process that would likely add Democratic seats to the senate.
Nozzolio's office is expected to provide a statement later.
UPDATE: Statement from Senator Nozzolio's office.
"It is very surprising to learn of Senator Dilan’s partisan statements regarding the redistricting process. These comments appear reckless, disingenuous and completely without merit.
I firmly believe that all the members of LATFOR are strongly committed to complying with every State and Federal law and establishing a transparent and fair redistricting process. There have been no substantive issues or votes requiring Commission approval at this point. For Senator Dilan to suggest otherwise is totally inaccurate.
Senator Dilan’s baseless attack is nothing more than a political smokescreen and is the ultimate misuse of the redistricting process for political purposes."