After a series of New York officials were arrested and charged with corruption last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo says he has the solution–or at least the first step. Accordingly, at press conference earlier this afternoon, Mr. Cuomo unveiled a legislative package aimed at curbing the problem.
“Over the past few days, there have been several charges brought against public officials; they span city and state government,” he began. “And they paint a truly ugly picture of our political landscape. I’d like to say that this is an unprecedented situation, that public corruption is a new problem. But it isn’t and, in many ways, that’s what makes it worse.”
Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver might be aggressively pushing for an increase to New York State’s minimum wage, but Majority Leader Dean Skelos threw a big bucket of cold water on the idea after a press conference on college affordability earlier today.
“Every single small businessperson, that I’ve had the opportunity to meet with and talk to, say they would have to lay off people because of these additional costs,” he said. “To me, the moral imperative is to have as many people working as possible.”
Earlier today, the New York State Senate Democrats asked the court currently enacting the state’s new Congressional redistricting plan to consider expanding their efforts and, at the very least, draw up their own maps for the State Senate as well.
They made two core arguments about the need for this legal action in their letter to the court.
“First, the Legislature’s plan is subject to preclearance by the Department of Justice pursuant to section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, a process that can take up to 60 days,” the wrote, referring to the required process of federal review for some counties in New York like the Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn.
In the wee hours of the morning, Governor Andrew Cuomo blasted out a statement touting two of the three aspects of his redistricting compromise: a constitutional amendment providing a commission to draw districts the in the future and a statue to implement the amendment as ordinary law if the Legislature doesn’t follow through with its promise to pass the amendment in the subsequent legislative session.
Last week, the court presented a draft map which contained a number of substantial changes to the electoral landscape. Notably, Congressmen Bob Turner, Maurice Hinchey, and Gary Ackerman saw their districts dismantled. Two of these districts inevitably had to be cut, as New York is required to lose two Congressional Districts this cycle. The plan additionally created a new Asian-plurality district in Queens that Mr. Ackerman has vowed to campaign for.
In typical fashion, the State Legislature released their new redistricting maps for the State Senate and State Assembly in the dark of the night on Sunday in an unreadable 20,000 word textual format instead of actually providing visual map.
The Senate Democrats, however, apparently compiled the data and provided the new State Senate maps to reporters.
“Since the Senate Republicans are content on keeping the public in the dark and concealing the maps that they produced, we will do it for them,” Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy wrote. “Attached you will find the maps which show very clearly that there is virtually no change from their previous proposal.”