9:19 am Feb. 28, 2012
There aren't many issues on which Democrats in Albany (or Republicans, for that matter) would presume to dictate to the party's popular leader, Governor Andrew Cuomo.
But for the Democrats in the State Senate, the issue of nonpartisan redistricting is an existential one, and the governor essentially holds their political lives in his hand.
In short, they need him to veto the proposed legislative lines, which the Senate's Republicans drew in order to maximize their chances of hanging on to their narrow majority, and minimize the influence of Democratic-voting constituencies around the state.
But the Democrats, who don't have much other choice, have articulated a series of red lines.
Michael Gianaris of Astoria has said any lines drawn by lawmakers would be unacceptable.
Daniel Squadron of Brooklyn strongly denounced the idea of accepting bad lines this year in exchange for structural changes down the road.
Now, Liz Krueger of Manhattan is warning the governor against working out a grand compromise on new districts behind closed doors with the leaders of the majorities in each house and then springing it on lawmakers, to be signed on an emergency footing.
"The worst-case scenario would be a message of necessity where maps come out and get voted on before anyone in the public or even in the legislature study it," Krueger told me in a recent interview. "I would see a message of necessity as outrageous and signing a bill while also complaining about it would also be outrageous."
The way Cuomo talks about this issue has changed since he pledged to veto any proposal that was created by lawmakers themselves. He has since signaled a willingness to sign lines drawn this year by the legislature in exchange for a commitment to institute an independent redistricting process in future decades.