Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Update on redistricting

The issue of redistricting remains a hot topic at the Capitol, even if most New Yorkers have little idea about what it entails. The Leader, in Corning, has an editorial here that explains some of the issues:
So, the war of words has begun.

Rhetoric aside, redistricting is important to residents locally and statewide because it ultimately impacts the future political agenda - and possibly the pool of candidates - in any one particular area.

Over the last decade, the shift in the population towards the downstate area will change the Assembly and Senate boundaries which could weaken the political strength of the upstate region.

The state Senate, where Republicans tend to represent upstate interests and hold a narrow majority, could be most impacted by the outcome of redistricting. Conversely, the downstate region has the most to gain.

Congressional boundaries will also have to be reworked because the state is losing two seats in the House. That means our 29th Congressional District will change in some shape or form.

We appreciate Cuomo’s concern that the redistricting process will again be controlled by incumbents bent on maintaining the cores of their political strengths. One look at the current configuration of state and federal districts demonstrates that considerable gerrymandering has taken place in the past.

The state Senate has resisted establishing an independent commission that Cuomo favors and its leaders now claim there simply isn’t enough time to have a panel in place for the 2012 elections. The legislative commission has already started the first of 12 public hearings statewide.

We side with those who feel the Senate is again copping out. An independent commission could be established during a special legislative session that will likely be held later this summer that would give the process enough time to complete redistricting by the end of the year.

The Times Union in Albany has an editorial here that asks, “As the Legislature forges ahead with it’s same old, corrupt redistricting process, how can voters have faith in a system designed by people who openly break their word?”

And Capital, an online publication about how things work in New York, has a Q&A about what might be happening with our political leaders here.