Peace & Justice

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

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Redistricting machinations

New York’s State legislators are offering the promise of a constitutional amendment to correct the redistricting problems they seem unwilling to correct themselves. But is that amendment the answer? Two newspapers think not.

From the New York Times:
To seal the deal with Mr. Cuomo, legislative leaders have offered to support a flawed constitutional amendment they claim would reform things in time for the 2022 election. That is far too long to wait. And this “reform” is no better than what New York has now and would enshrine some of the worst practices in the Constitution.

It calls for a 10-member bipartisan commission to draw all of the maps, but an even number almost ensures gridlock. There is no clear way to assure that each district has the same number of voters. It makes no mention of a 2010 law requiring prisoners be counted at their homes, not in “prison gerrymandered” districts. If the Legislature doesn’t like what this group does, the whole shebang goes back to — the Legislature. When it comes to protecting their cushy jobs, Albany’s lawmakers will never keep their promises of reform.

From the Times Union:
The trade-off, such as it is, would be a constitutional amendment to make the redistricting process marginally more independent and nonpartisan. But the amendment the Legislature has offered to pass would leave it pretty much in control of redistricting. Some reform!

Moreover, such a constitutional amendment requires votes by two consecutive legislatures and then the public. So this Legislature could vote for the amendment, and the next Legislature could kill it. And since most of the lawmakers who broke their 2010 oath will probably be re-elected this fall, thanks to the gerrymandered maps that they’ve drawn, why shouldn’t we figure they’ll go back on their word again? Why trust them now?

As we have noted previously, perhaps, if more people contacted their representatives to express outrage, legislators might be more responsive. You can be one of those people by contacting the Senate switchboard at 518-455-2800 and the Assembly switchboard at 518-455-4100. Feel free to tell someone you read about it here.