3:02 pm Feb. 24, 2012
A statement today from former state attorney general Robert Abrams warns that redistricting reformers may "win the redistricting battle but lose the war" if Governor Andrew Cuomo follows through with his threat to veto this year's newly proposed legislative maps.
The argument gives Cuomo cover to get out of his earlier pledge to veto any lines drawn by legislators in exchange for structural changes to be put in place later.
"Even if these year's lines are vetoed," Abrams said in a statement, "we face an uncertain outcome in the courts. At best, we may win the redistricting battle but lose the war because the courts will not change the redistricting process for the future."
Abrams' argument is bogus and could actually undermine reform efforts, said Democratic state senator Daniel Squadron, who represents parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan.
"The principles former Attorney General Abrams lays out are laudable, but there's no basis for the idea that a veto and a constitutional amendment [to create an independent redistricting process in the future] are mutually exclusive," Squadron said when I reached out to him.
"The only way to change redistricting is to stop the poisonous process right now before it holds for another ten years, and insist that it is improved permanently. One more year based on this process, much less a decade of the gerrymandered and political results of this process, is simply unacceptable," he said.
Cuomo has signaled he may be open to signing off on the maps if legislators amended them to his satisfaction.
This statement from Squadron, which echoes what other Democrats in the State Senate minority have said, puts clear daylight between them and a number of good-government advocates who have indicated that the governor should be prepared to accept lines from the legislature in return for future changes to the process.