Due to this decade’s U.S. Census numbers, the New York City Council, like every legislative body the country, was Constitutionally required to adjust its boundaries to reflect population shifts within its jurisdiction. This afternoon, the city’s Districting Commission released its second, and likely final, proposal for the new lines.
A gasoline shortage is currently hitting the New York City metropolitan area, with many gas stations empty or shuttered due to Hurricane Sandy’s damage, and the remaining locations are plagued by never-ending lines. Asked about the situation today, Mayor Michael Bloomberg acknowledged the problem and said there is only so much the city can do about it.
“You’ve got to open the harbor, that’s one of the things,” he said to describe the issue. “There are some federal laws prohibiting foreign-flagged ships from doing certain things, we’ve got waivers already; the federal government couldn’t be more helpful. It will take some time. Some of the gas stations aren’t open because they don’t have electricity and the pumps need electricity to run. That, in the next couple days, will hopefully be accommodated. Once mass transit comes back, you have a lot fewer cars trying to buy gasoline.”
On The Capitol Pressroom today, Governor Andrew Cuomo continued criticizing what he called “the quote unquote ‘judicial’ lines” the court presented for New York State’s new congressional map. Mr. Cuomo posited the court’s flaws in drawing the congressional map make a compromise with the Legislature over the State Assembly and State Senate maps a relatively welcome deal.
First, Mr. Cuomo argued again the judge’s map was “remarkably similar” to the competing plans the State Assembly and State Senate presented to the court.
However, a quick glance at the court’s map and the legislative proposals shows this not to be the case.
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.”
Last night, the State Legislature released a new batch of gerrymandered legislative lines and a constitutional amendment to reform the process in the future, and, further revealing his intentions this morning, Governor Andrew Cuomo trashed the alternative to him signing the Legislature’s proposal, the courts intervening and drawing their own map.
(Mr. Cuomo had previously vowed to send the maps to the courts unless an independent commission drew them.)
“I’ll tell you this, for those people who are arguing, ‘Well, the best thing we can do is let the courts draw the lines.’ We saw what happened when the court draws the lines, we have the congressional lines,” he said on Fred Dicker’s radio show today, referring to the court releasing its first draft of the congressional map.
Albany released the text of the new State Legislative lines last night, but not the maps, resulting in limited clarity for what the new maps will look like. At first glance at the 20,000 word document, it seems a partisan gerrymander remains in place.
However, Albany also released a legible redistricting document last night, the constitutional amendment to permanently reform the process in the future in 2022. The proposed amendment appears designed to lock in this year’s set of maps rather than create any sort of truly independent commission. “The commission shall consider the maintenance of cores of existing districts, of pre-existing political subdivisions, including counties, cities, and towns, and communities of interest,” the bill reads.
While the Assembly Democrats declined to weigh in on the Special Master’s court-drawn map released yesterday, the Senate Republicans had a number of specific issues raised with individual districts. However, despite the judge indicating no desire to protect incumbents whatsoever, the Senate GOP’s legal arguments continued to press the point, along with arguing the need to better conform to tradition and protect select communities of interest.
Unsurprisingly, the Senate Republicans arguments seem to favor Republican incumbents’ reelection chances. For example, with GOP Congressman Michael Grimm’s new 11th district, they pushed for public housing to be removed from the seat and for ideologically conservative Orthodox voters in Midwood to be added instead.
Earlier today, the courts dropped a small bombshell on New York’s Congressional delegation, releasing a “draft” map for the new set of districts. But what does that mean, and what happens next?
U.S. Magistrate Roanne Mann has given a deadline at 9 a.m. tomorrow for any parties to submit comments. She then has until Monday to submit her plan to a three-judge panel. That panel will then hold a hearing for the parties on March 15th and subsequently order a plan into effect.
David Nir, an attorney who now heads the left-leaning Daily Kos Elections blog that closely monitors redistricting developments across the country, said he expected the three-judge panel would adopt the proposed map wholesale.
“In all likelihood, I’d expect the three-judge panel to adopt the magistrate’s final map with few if any changes,” he told The Politicker. “Given the amount of work the magistrate has put into drafting these maps, and her close familiarity with the new lines, I’d be surprised if the three-judge panel chose to second-guess her.”
One of the interesting twists of the court’s draft proposal for New York’s Congressional lines is the new Asian-plurality district created in Queens, and Democratic Assemblyman Rory Lancman, who had been campaigning against GOP Congressman Bob Turner, just announced he would be likely to shift his focus there should the final boundaries look like the draft map.
“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,” he said in a statement this morning.
“I look forward to the opportunity to run for Congress when the lines are finalized,” he added.
The special master involved in redrawing New York’s Congressional districts released the court’s draft map this morning, and certainly not every incumbent is going to be pleased. And, unlike the proposals from the State Assembly and Senate majorities, this draft will likely contain far more legal weight as the process moves forward over the next week.
At first glance, the map appears to eliminate Congressman Bob Turner’s Queens-based seat and Upstate Congressman Maurice Hinchey’s one as well. The map additionally eliminates a Nassau County district, dismantling Rep. Gary Ackerman’s the most.
A new plurality-Asian district is created in Queens, which Mr. Ackerman may choose to run for. However, Congressman Joe Crowley, whose district was converted into a 48% Latino seat with more of the Bronx, might also prefer to run for that new seat as well, should the map hold.