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Councilman Greenfield: We don't want a 'Super Ghetto' senate district

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Colby Hamilton / WNYC

Speaking with a few dozen members of the southern Brooklyn Jewish community behind him, Councilman David Greenfield denounced the creation of a so-called "super Jewish" state senate district during this year's redistricting process, calling it instead a "super ghetto."

"We're not going to allow for a backroom, smoke-filled deal to dilute the strength of our community," Greenfield said during a press conference in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn.

A number of speakers from various community groups and religious organizations spoke, including Chaim Deutch of Flatbush Shomrim, Rabbi Chaim Goldberger of Satmar, Mendel Zilberberg of Community Board 12, and Rabbi Yechezkel Pikus of the Council of Jewish Organizations of Flatbush.

"We are opposed to this so-called 'super-jewish' district. This district may be super for other people, but it's not super for the Jews," Greenfield said.

The proposed district in question is part of the first draft of state senate lines drawn up by LATFOR, the task force made up of state legislatures who are responsible for drawing the new lines. If created, the 17th district would stretch from Borough Park down through the Midwood section of Brooklyn (see below).

Greenfield compared the creation of a senate district carved out for the predominately Orthodox Jewish community in the area to the creation of the Venetian ghetto 500 years ago.

"They told the Jews, 'It'll be good for you; why do you want to live with everybody? We're going to separate you. We're going to put you in a neighborhood.' And they came up with a brand new name for this neighborhood. They called it a 'ghetto'," Greenfield said. "This, folks, is nothing more and nothing less than a ghetto district."

The Councilman refused to say who, specifically, it was that wanted to create this "ghetto district" but the push for the high-density district has come from the Senate Republicans, who both drew the maps and see it as a potentially winnable seat this year. Greenfield said he testified before LATFOR, calling for more concentrated districts in the area that is now divided among as many as six senate districts.

"They gave us one--one senator. A senator that can be easily marganilized. A senator who can be dismissed. A senator people don't have to pay attention to," the Councilman said.

The battle over the future district lines has been playing out behind a special election for the nearby senate district recently vacated by disgraced former senator Carl Kruger. Another local council member, Lewis Fidler, is running against Brooklyn Republican Party vice-chairman David Storobin.

The candidate was unable to attend at least two recent debate appearances due to illness. But the illness was announced ten days ago and Fidler has been scarcely seen publicly, with just two weeks left to go in the campaign.

Requests were put in to Councilman Fidler's campaign for an update on his status. They have yet to be returned.

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It's A Free Country ®

Mix: Songs For Super Tuesday

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

From "Carry Me Ohio" to "Sweet Virginia"; "Superbad" to "I'm Set Free" -- take a listen to songs that will get you in the Super Tuesday mood. We've hand-picked some tracks that have "super" "Tuesday" and "Free" in the title, as well as songs that pay tribute to the ten states voting today. 

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It's A Free Country ®

Watch | It's A Free Country Does Super Tuesday!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Voters across the country, from Alaska to Vermont, voted on Super Tuesday. Political reporter Anna Sale hosted our Super Tuesday event brought to you by It’s a Free Country.

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It's A Free Country ®

President Obama on Economic Policy Changes

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

In his first national news conference of 2012, President Obama is expected to outline his plan to allow refinancing for homeowners with Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgages, and a compensation agreement with lenders to servicemembers and veterans who were wrongfully foreclosed upon or denied lower interest rates.

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The Empire

'The Capitol Pressroom' with Susan Arbetter

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Today on "The Capitol Pressroom":

Governor Andrew Cuomo joins Susan at around 11:05.

Not everyone is a fan of the Governor's DNA Database Bill. In fact, the Innocence Project and the New York State Bar Association would like to see some significant changes. NYSBA President Vincent Doyle has the lowdown.

We may meet Senate candidate Joe Carvin who is in Albany today.

It's Farm Bureau Lobby day! FB President Dean Norton returns to the Plywood Hut to discuss Bureau priorities such as the Delinquent Property Tax Reform, why farmers’ property taxes are capped at 10% rather than 2% … and where the best farmers markets with homemade chocolate baked goods can be found on any given Tuesday in March. In walking distance of the Capitol.

Darrel Aubertine has had quite a year. The Commissioner of Ag & Markets has not only been lobbying Congress for New York's fair share of the Farm Bill, he's been helping to spearhead the massive clean-up and rebuild that been taking place since September's storms.

Investing in farms and farmland is critical to the economy of upstate New York. David Haight, the New York State Director of the American Farmland Trust reviews the work the group has accomplished over the past year, and why it sometimes faces opposition from the strangest places.

For show archives, please visit The Capitol Bureau's website here.

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The Empire

Assemblyman Lancman fine with proposed minority-majority 6th Congressional District

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:

Courtesy of AALDEF

And the court's District 6 map:

A quick look at the voting age population of the new district:
White: 39.9%
Hispanic: 17.1%
Black: 4.8%
Asian: 38.8%

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.

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The Empire

Federal judge releases draft congressional maps--updated

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Courtesy of the Eastern District Court.

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)
  • 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."

  • 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.
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It's A Free Country ®

Track: Super Tuesday Returns by Community Type

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Voters turned out Tuesday to vote in ten primaries across the country. Mitt Romney hoped the returns solidify his front-runner status, as his challengers tried to show the race for the GOP nomination is far from over. Track returns, broken down county by county, from Alaska to Vermont.

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It's A Free Blog

Opinion: The Brilliant Way Women Lawmakers Are Winning the War on Contraception

Monday, March 05, 2012

In response to a range of rabid right-wing assaults on women, legislators—often female—are using absurdist legislation with increasing effectiveness.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Jerry Falwell and the American Right

Monday, March 05, 2012

Michael Sean Winters examines how Reverend Jerry Falwell has influenced national politics. In God’s Right Hand: How Jerry Falwell Made God a Republican and Baptized the American Right Winters looks how Falwell motivated voters and helped defined the orthodoxy and vocabulary of the Republican Party.

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The Empire

The three most important pieces of New York's ongoing redistricting saga

Monday, March 05, 2012

Federal magistrate judge Roanne Mann is bringing together the sides with skin in the redistricting game today at a hearing to review legislative and community activist proposals for how the state’s 27 congressional districts could be drawn.

The hearing comes as state lawmakers and Governor Andrew Cuomo are reportedly in the midst of trying to hammer out a deal that would see better lines for the Governor to pass alongside a constitutional amendment to change the redistricting process going forward.
But as Jimmy Vielkind of the Albany Times-Union reports, the process is far from finalized:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who denounced LATFOR's first draft of lines as "hyper-political," is wielding the threat of a gubernatorial veto to make lawmakers agree to a new law and changes to the State Constitution that would rip the map-making pen from legislators themselves.

Assembly Democrats outlined a draft package of possible changes last week, the Times Union reported Thursday, but the new system still allows for final revisions by legislators — something that has left some good-government advocates uneasy.

A Cuomo administration source said Sunday that there was no overall agreement, and as such, "if they are drafting now then they are drafting for a veto."

Even as the redistricting morass continues, three distinct pieces of the overall puzzle should be watched closely:

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It's A Free Blog

Opinion: Rick Santorum's Violent Torpedo of Truth

Monday, March 05, 2012

Rick Santorum's presidential campaign is like Charlie Sheen's stand-up tour: a disorganized mess of lunatic rants, doomed to failure but veering from one state to another regardless, awing people more with the sheer magnitude of its badness than with its message.

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The Empire

'The Capitol Pressroom' with Susan Arbetter

Monday, March 05, 2012

Today on "The Capitol Pressroom":

According to State Senator Mike Gianaris, he's been consistently outspoken on government reform whether serving in the Senate or Assembly. On today’s Capitol Pressroom, the Queens Democrat discusses Cuomo's comments, today’s New York Times editorial, and the defensive stance taken on Friday by Assemblyman Jack McEneny, a fellow Democrat and the Assembly co-chair of LATFOR, upon learning of Gianaris’ criticism of a constitutional amendment in-the-making.

Siena Pollster Steve Greenberg returns, wielding data.

We hear what former Republican gubernatorial candidate John Faso has to say about relationships, specifically the one between Republicans and women in light of Rush Limbaugh’s latest comments.

Adam Lisberg, editor of City & State New York shares highlights from the latest issue of the paper, including a story about increasing highway & bridge tolls in order to pay for transportation infrastructure.

For show archives, please visit The Capitol Bureau's website here.

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It's A Free Country ®

David Eisenhower on the Military-Industrial Complex

Monday, March 05, 2012

Recap from It's a Free Country.

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on the Brian Lehrer Show, David Eisenhower, director of the Institute for Public Service at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, discussed his afterword to The United States Constitution: What It Says, What It Means: A Hip Pocket Guide and his grandfather's famous "military-industrial complex" speech.

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The Empire

Liu, like DiNapoli, wielding pension power to push corporate behavior

Monday, March 05, 2012

Comptroller Liu sees costs dropping in the future.

Courtesy of the comptroller's office/Paul Brumlik

Embattled New York City Comptroller John Liu announced this morning that the city's pension funds had worked with two companies they invest in to agree to protect workers against sexual orientation and identity discrimination. Like his counterpart at the state level, Comptroller Tomas DiNapoli, Liu is using the city's public pension funds to push forward a political agenda--one of the benefits defenders of the pension systems point to for protecting them.

The companies in the agreement, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Constellation Brands, a large alcoholic beverage distributor, will now not have to put a proposal forward to shareholders to "adopt a written policy barring discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity," according to the report.

“These companies are to be commended for upholding basic rights of their employees,” Comptroller Liu said in a statement.  “As long-term shareholders we know that when companies refuse to protect their employees against discrimination, they drive away the best and the brightest. Equal rights in the workplace help ensure that long-term shareholder value is protected and build a more equitable society.”

Last month, Comptroller DiNapoli announced an agreement with three California-based companies to disclose their corporate political contributions. DiNapoli, in an interview with the Empire in January, DiNapoli pointed to the ability of pension funds as vehicles for social change as one of their additional benefits:

“By aggregating that capital, we can not only maximize the power to get superior return,” the Comptroller said. “You also can focus on the other ways in which you can make those companies you invest in be responsible corporate citizens in a way that makes their business model sustainable and profitable.”

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It's A Free Blog

Opinion: What's Super Tuesday, and Why Should We Care?

Monday, March 05, 2012

The proportional allocation of delegates diminishes the impact of Super Tuesday this year.

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The Empire

Cuomo's poll numbers down, voters' support for ed reform is mixed

Monday, March 05, 2012

Courtesy of the Governor's office.

In the latest Siena College poll, Governor Andrew Cuomo's job performance and favorability numbers have slid, though they remain "the envy of any politician," according to Siena pollster Steven Greenberg.

Cuomo is viewed favorably by 69 percent of voters and unfavorably by 25 percent of voters surveyed. That's down from 74-18 percent last month, according to Siena. He retains a high job performance rating at 57 percent, though that, too, has dropped from 61 percent last month.

“While Andrew Cuomo's numbers are down a little from last month, they remain impressively high as he enters his 15th month as Governor,” Greenberg said in a statement.

Voters may be responding to the recent battle over teacher evaluations. Those polled were split on the value of the teacher evaluation system being implemented across the state, with half of voters saying it will improve the quality of education. Fifty-seven percent believed the deal was fair to teachers.

Yet a plurality of those polled--45 percent--believe the Governor's actions has had no effect on the quality of education in the state, while 27 percent say he's made it more of a problem, and only 22 percent say he's improved it.

“A bare majority of voters thinks the new teacher evaluation system will improve the quality of education in New York, however, a sizable minority believes the new system will have no effect on the quality of education,” Greenberg said. “Clearly voters do not see the issue of teacher evaluations as being the 'be all and end all' to improving the quality of education for New York‟s public school students.

"Interestingly, while the Governor was publicly seen as a leader in the fight for the new evaluation system, education is one key issue area where voters are not giving the Governor high performance grades.”

On the issues, voters are now evenly divided on the issue of legalizing gambling--48 percent support, 49 percent opposed--down from 52-44 percent support last month. The same can't be said for the creation of a new pension tier and the Governor's proposed convention center out in Queens: 66 percent support the pension reform, while 60 percent support the Queens convention center.

“A constitutional amendment to legalize non-Indian casinos in New York divides voters virtually down the middle. However, this is not an issue that divides voters by region, party or ideology. In fact, voters of every region, party and ideology are nearly evenly divided,” Greenberg said. “Gender and age are more predictive of voters‟ positions, with men more supportive than women and young voters more supportive than older voters.

“Support remains strong – 66-29 percent – for creating a new pension system to save government employers money and ask future government employees to contribute more toward their retirement. Pension reform has the strong support of voters from every party and region, and even has majority support among voters from union households,” Greenberg said. “The Governor‟s proposed new Queens convention center also continues to enjoy two-to-one support, including at least 60 percent of voters from every region and party.”

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The Empire

State Assembly: Our redistricting amendment is better than Gianaris'

Friday, March 02, 2012

This article has been updated.

From left, Assemb. Jack McEneny, Sen. Michael Nozzolio and Sen. Martin Malavé Dilan (Colby Hamilton / WNYC)

Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver’s press office just released a statement on behalf of Assemblyman Jack McEneny, the Albany-based Democrat representing the Assembly’s Democratic majority in the state’s redistricting process. The statement, according to McEneny, is in response to the criticism being levied against the reported language of a constitutional amendment that appeared this morning in the Albany Times-Union. The amendment would be part of a compromise that would allow the Governor to sign a second, supposedly improved set of district lines for the state senate and assembly.

The statement appears to put daylight between what Assemblyman McEneny described in the TU article, and some of the push back coming from Senate Democrats, in particular Senator Michael Gianaris, who was the co-sponsor of a bill last year to establish an independent redistricting process in 2012:

While we share a common goal of permanently reforming New York’s redistricting process, the constitutional amendment currently being discussed by the Assembly is stronger than the Senate Minority’s proposal in several key respects. Future redistricting plans will be subjected to tough standards not contained in the plan put forth by the Senate Minority and, as well, the amendment would be accompanied by a statute implementing those changes.

According to the statement, in the event the plan drawn by the future “independent commission” was rejected by the legislature, lawmakers would “be limited to those that affect no more than two percent of the population of the district being altered, making it much harder to modify the commission’s proposals.”

The statement goes on to say the Assembly proposal would “provide crucial protections for language and for racial minorities,” as well as require a justification for district population deviations, and give greater restriction to political activities for the commission members.

The statement comes after a day of push back from lawmakers and good government activists incensed over the details of a possible constitutional amendment on redistricting.

Common Cause held a conference call earlier to discuss the status of both congressional and state redistricting efforts. The group’s executive director Susan Lerner addressed the constitutional amendment issue.

“We would just like to say we have consistently been calling for an open discussion about what should be in any constitutional amendment,” she said, according to City and State’s Laura Nahmias. “We think quite frankly it would be a scandal if massive changes to the redistricting process were introduced under cover of darkness.”

Democratic state Senator Liz Krueger issued her own statement on the state of the process saying, “The reports I have heard of a deal on a constitutional amendment make two things clear: the proposed amendment is too weak to work, and New York's voters would have to accept ten more years of hyperpartisan, racially discriminatory maps to get this too-little, too-late reform.”

And earlier today, Democratic state Senator Michael Gianaris told the Empire, “The entire point about the constitutional amendment is that we could change [the ability of the legislature to have the final say over the lines]. So to actually enshrine in the constitution that the legislature would have the final say would be regress.”

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It's A Free Country ®

Who Had the Better Week—Cuomo or Christie?

Friday, March 02, 2012

Governor Christie lampoons the NYPD for "arrogance" while Governor Cuomo compares himself to Gumby.

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The Empire

Bill gets his bill: Public Advocate gets city's pensions to invest more locally

Friday, March 02, 2012

Last month we had a piece talking about Public Advocate Bill de Blasio's push to get the city pension funds investing locally.

It looks like it was a success: this week, the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, on which de Blasio sits as a trustee, adopted a resolution to increase investment in local investment opportunities in areas like affordable housing and infrastructure.

“With City unemployment stalled at just under 9 percent, it was imperative for us to act quickly to put the power of New York’s pension fund to work creating jobs across the five boroughs,” the Public Advocate said in a statement. “The investments that will result from the passage of my resolutions are proven to provide responsible returns while also creating jobs – this is a win-win for New York City.”

The proposal would see an additional $350 million in investments go to projects in city.

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