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Prisoner Reallocation

The Empire

Senator Dilan doesn't understand how Senate Rs do the math for a 63rd district sans prisoners

Friday, January 06, 2012

Brooklyn State Senator Martin Dilan has a set of somewhat rhetorical questions for his Republican colleagues reported plans to try increasing the chamber's size from 62 to 63. In a statement released this afternoon, Dilan, who sits on the bicameral committee responsible for drawing new district lines, preempted a rumor that Republicans could be releasing draft maps today.

"Comments made earlier this week by Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos indicated that a draft redistricting plan will include a 63rd Senate District and that it could be introduced as early as today. I hope that it is not the case, as such a determination at this time would be disconcerting to say the least, and an affront to our State Constitution and a deeply vested public," Dilan said.

Dilan pointed out that the recent agreement on prisoner reallocation has so far not been finalized, and wondered how the Senate Republicans could put together maps without knowing where to count the more than 46,000 prisoners.

“I hope for the sake of all New Yorkers that this act is not a sign of what’s to come as the redistricting process moves forward," the Senator said.

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The Empire

Prisoner counting decision gets appealed by Republicans

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Times-Union's Jimmy Vielkind caught this key piece in the ongoing redistricting process. As expected, Republicans are appealing the ruling that will allow prisoners to be counted in their last known home address prior to incarceration for the purpose of redistricting.

As Jimmy points out, the Republicans are trying to move up the appeals ladder quickly, petitioning to have the case reviewed directly by the Federal Court of Appeals.

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The Empire

'The Capitol Pressroom' with Susan Arbetter

Friday, December 09, 2011

Today on "The Capitol Pressroom":

Chairman of the State Senate Finance Committee John DeFrancisco discusses the how events of the past week unfolded; his conference’s next step in the “prisoner gerrymandering lawsuit”; and his priorities for the upcoming session.

And then we look at the view from DC, first with 23rd Congressional District Rep. Bill Owens who will comment on Albany versus DC in light of the recent compromise on the millionaire's tax. We will also ask him about the payroll tax cut, regulation and the US mail.

And 21st Congressional District Rep. Paul Tonko a former member of the New York State Assembly, weighs in on transparency versus productivity in Washington as well as in Albany, and why one set of lawmakers is able to compromise while the other appears not to.

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The Empire

'The Capitol Pressroom' with Susan Arbetter

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Today on "The Capitol Pressroom":

Unlike many lawmakers, Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb is not all that thrilled about the deal hammered out by the Governor and both houses of the legislature in the wee hours. He will join us to discuss the issues, and (hopefully) comment on the winners & losers in the race for economic development cash.

Last week the State won the battle over where prisoners should be counted for the purposes of redistricting – the decision is considered a win for Senate Democrats. Queens lawmaker Democrat Mike Gianaris has reaction.

And Blair Horner a VP at the American Cancer Society and a long-time political observer at the Capitol in Albany weighs in on the vast spectrum of issues unfolding here.

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The Empire

Judge rules prisoner can be counted in home districts

Friday, December 02, 2011

In a blow to Senate Republicans today, New York Supreme Court Judge Eugene Devine ruled that the law to have prisoners in state facilities be counted at their last known address prior to incarceration is, in fact, constitutionally legal. The ruling makes the likelihood of tens of thousands of prisoners being counted in downstate districts for redistricting purposes increasingly more likely.

The decision is after the jump at the end.

"Though inmates may be physically found in the location of their respective correctional facilities at the time the census is conducted, there is nothing in the record to indicate that such inmates have any actual permanency in these locations or have an intent to remain," Judge Devine said in his decision.

"Today's decision by Judge Devine is a victory for fundamental fairness and equal representation,” Attorney General Schneiderman, whose office argued in defense of the reallocation law, said in a statement. “As a lawmaker, I fought to end the practice of prison-based gerrymandering that distorted the democratic process and undermined the principle of ‘one person, one vote.’ This decision affirms and applies a fair standard to the drawing of state legislative districts and makes it easier for counties to do the same by providing them with an accurate data set.”

As I wrote when the case was first heard back in October, Judge Devine was asking tough questions of the defense:

The Senate Republican attorney David Lewis was not available for comment, but Senate staffer, who had spoken with Lewis, said the judge, Eugene Devine, did indeed have questions for the defense, interrupting their explanations to ask clarifying questions. The Republican source said the senate plaintiffs were taking this as a good sign, suggesting the judge might have found the reasoning suspect.

It appears Judge Devine was convinced that counting methods that were different from the census process or previous state methods passed muster.

In March 2010, [Census Bureau Director Robert] Groves stated that the Census Bureaus counts individuals as their "usual residence" and that, for inmates in particular, states were free to decide the manner in which prisoners were counted, namely, at the prisons, at their pre-incarceration addresses or altogether removed from "redistricting formulas," where residential information was unavailable.

Senate Democrats, who have the most to potentially gain in the process, are understandably pleased with the outcome. "The time for delay is over. The Senate Republicans and LATFOR must immediately comply with the law. Any further delay is an outrageous and illegal assault on Democracy," said Senate Democrats spokesperson Mike Murphy.

David Lewis, who argued the case for the defendants, said his clients planned to appeal. "We're looking to appeal directly to the [Federal] Court of Appeals because of the constitutional issue and the timing," he said.

Dale Ho, who argued the case on behalf of the NAACP, said he didn't expect a different result. "I think the appellate courts will understand that Judge Devine got this exactly right," he said.

Senate Republican took the decision in stride, with spokesman Scott Reif saying confidently in a statement, "We will review the judge's decision, but regardless of the final outcome of this lawsuit Republicans will expand our majority in the Senate next year."

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The Empire

Latest LATFOR meeting ends pretty much where it began

Friday, November 18, 2011

By Karen DeWitt, New York Public Radio Capital Bureau Chief

Assemblyman McEneny, left, and Senator Nozzolio, right (Courtesy of the LATFOR Committee.)

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.

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The Empire

Pre-gaming the remaining redistricting process

Friday, November 04, 2011

This week marked the end of the first round of meetings of LATFOR, the joint legislative committee responsible for drawing New York’s political lines. More than 400 people from across the state testified, providing hundreds of hours of comments for legislators to take into account.

So now what?

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The Empire

Check that: LATFOR meeting on the 18th back on

Thursday, November 03, 2011

[Sorry Liz!]

Man, I think the LATFOR guys need to get on the same page. I'm told now that the meeting to decided prisoner reapportionment has been moved BACK to Friday the 18th in Albany. Sorry for the confusion.

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The Empire

Nozzolio defends progress on prisoner placement, Jeffries says Senate majority is 'stonewalling'

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Assemblyman McEneny, left, and Senator Nozzolio, right (Courtesy of the LATFOR Committee.)

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.

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