Susan Lerner

The Empire

Common Cause submits its own redistricting maps, drawn on a blank slate

Monday, December 19, 2011

The good-government group, and regular critic of New York’s legislature-led redistricting process, todayunveiled its proposed maps for both the state legislature and Congress. The lines were drawn wholly divorced from the current maps and who the representatives are, according to Common Cause. They say they began with the most basic geographic boundaries—towns, cities and county lines—before adding demographic data to create what they say are non-partisan alternatives to gerrymandered districts.

“We have been outspoken about the problems with the current process, which is characterized by partisanship and political self-interest,” said Common Cause’s executive director Susan Lerner during a conference call. “Our goal has been to show that there is no practical impediment—it’s only a political one—to achieving fair, non-politicized district maps.”

Common Cause’s maps were released in partnership with Newsday, and the interactive map database “U Map NY” is located here.

Let’s take a look at these by legislative level, and keep it focused on the city.

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The Empire

Cuomo launches new website aimed at transparency

Thursday, September 22, 2011

By Karen DeWitt, WXXI Capitol Bureau Chief

Chip Somodevilla / Getty

Governor Cuomo launched a new website today, which he said aimed at making his administration more transparent to the public and as “a new way to get people involved.” It lists events from his public schedule since taking office in January, and will feature on-line chats with top state officials, including, the Governor himself, this coming Saturday.

The site includes information on staff meetings the governor has held, meals at the executive mansion with legislators, and one-on-one meetings with various State Senators in the days leading up to the successful Senate vote to legalize gay marriage. It also shows records of numerous plane trips the governor has taken, some to promote his budget and tax cap agenda. Others to survey storm damages after Irene and Lee.

Cuomo promised during the 2010 campaign for governor to make more details of his personal schedule available to the public, but until now had not followed through on that. Now, with the launch of a new website that includes details from the governor’s day to day schedule and a list of upcoming events by administration officials, government reform groups say Cuomo has taken a major step towards openness.

“I think it’s a very good development,” said Susan Lerner, with Common Cause.

Russ Haven, with the New York Public Interest Research Group, says the Governor has set a standard for transparency that will be hard to retreat from in the future. “It does create a set of expectations,” said Haven. “You can’t un-ring that bell.”

Haven says a major gap in the schedule, or a questionable plane ride, would be open to greater scrutiny.

“If there are any gaps people are going to assume that there’s a story to be told even if there isn’t” said Haven. “I think it really does ratchet up the level of accountability.”

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