Magistrate Judge Roanne L. Mann is, officially, the new special master for New York State's redistricting process.
Mann, a registered Democrat who at least one attorney thinks is a "very smart but humorless jurist," will have the same powers, and the same constraints as the special master who oversaw the process in 2002, according to Jimmy Vielkind of the Times Union.
“If you think I should try to go convince the legislators that it is not in their best interest to draw their own lines, uh, maybe you could convince them of that," Jimmy Vielkind quoted him saying in late January. "I don’t possess those skills. So you’re right: I haven’t spent a lot of time trying to explain to them why this isn’t in their interest."
“It’s unacceptable,” Al Sharpton said, of the gerrymandered district lines released last Friday by the state legislature’s redistricting task force. ”Why do we have to say we’ll lose a black seat in Buffalo to have an Asian seat downstate?”
ALBANY—Even as Gov. Andrew Cuomo leveled a threat to veto new legislative district lines that legislators have drawn for themselves, he left himself open to a negotiated solution that would preserve their control over maps that will be in place for the next ten years.
Governor Andrew Cuomo's office has, "at first glance," rejected the proposed lines drawn by the State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment.
The state legislature's redistricting commission has officially posted its proposed lines for the next decade.
The Legislative Task Force on Democraphic Research, or LATFOR for short, just posted the Assembly and Senate maps, complete with a new 63rd Senate district, which the Republican majority claims is mandated by the state constitution.
Democratic state senator Adriano Espaillat of Manhattan said he knows what Governor Andrew Cuomo "originally said" about needing an independent body to redraw the legislative lines, but he said, "We're running out of time."
Speaking to me in the Capitol yesterday after Cuomo's speech, Espaillat sounded skeptical about being able to have the kind of publicly vetted, independent process that the governor said is needed.
This afternoon, State Supreme Court Justice Eugene Devine dismissed a lawsuit filed by State Senate Republicans that sought to block the implementation of a law that would count prisoners in their home districts for the purposes of redistricting.
Devine ruled that, despite certain logistical difficulties involved in counting prisoners at their permanent residences, there were no grounds for preventing the legislature from making such a change.
With the clock ticking on New York's redistricting deadline, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries of Brooklyn thinks that any hope for reforming the process rests on Governor Andrew Cuomo's willingness to hold the line.
"At the end of the day, as long as the governor is willing to adhere to his commitment to veto any lines that are drawn in a way that doesn't project independence and nonpartisanship, then we have a shot to change the way that the redistricting process is done," Jeffries told me on Tuesday evening, as he mingled with 20 or so guests at the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Art, before a screening of the documentary Gerrymandering.(1)
Cuomo reaffirms a promise to veto legislature-drawn districts, triggering undetermined court involvement
Despite Governor Andrew Cuomo's pledge to reform New York's partisan redistricting process, there has been some lingering uncertainty over exactly how he phrased his promises to do so, and whether certain other actors might be preparing some political cover for him in the case of an eventual half-measure.
With the stage set for a redistricting compromise, reformers offer a pointed reminder of Cuomo's promise
With good-government groups suddenly split over what constitutes redistricting reform, Citizens Union and New York Uprising held a press conference this morning reiterating their call for an independent commission that would remove the ability of state legislative leaders to customize districts for partisan advantage.
"We believe that they need to remove the self-interest conflict that they hold in drawing these lines, and turn it over to an independent panel," said Citizens Union executive director Dick Dadey. "Because the power of who controls the pen at the end of this process really draws the lines. It is not the criteria so much as who, in facts, draws those lines, who controls how those maps will look in 2012."
At a Brooklyn hearing, the state's redistricting task force comes under criticism for a lack of diversity
At a hearing in Brooklyn Borough Hall this morning, elected officials and other interested parties testified before the state's Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR, for short), arguing for the creation or strengthening of electoral districts in next year's redistricting process for the borough's Orthodox Jews, Asian-Americans, and Latinos and African-Americans, respectively.
Several speakers used the occasion to take issue with the ethnic makeup of the six-person panel, which is constituted of two assemblymembers, two state senators and two non-legislators, picked by the leaders of the State Senate and the Assembly.
"Unfortunately this body does not reflect the diversity that I celebrate and that I fight for every day," said City Councilwoman Letitia James, who called the omission "inexcusable."
Jimmy Vielkind: The Congressional districts are conceived on a much higher plane that the state legislative ones, and the redrawing of those line has a much less partisan bent. What I mean is, seniority, personality, and juice matter more than party. Chuck Schumer said yesterday he thinks one Republican and one Democrat will have to BE sacrificed. The was the very reason that Weprin—good soldier that he is—was selected to run for this seat; he'd been pegged for slaughter.
He's huffing and puffing and blowing from his bully pulpit but it's pretty much in the hands of the legislature. If Cuomo does veto the lines, as he's once again threatening to do, then someone can sue, claiming lawmakers are at an impasse, and a federal judge should step in. So we'll see.