2014 Redistricting Cuomo Amendment
2014 Redistricting Cuomo Constitutional Amendment
"WINK-WINK-WINK Silver-Cuomo-Skelos" -Bill Samuels on March 15, 2012 after Redistricting Deal

 

"This agreement will permanently reform the redistricting process in New York to once and for all end self-interested and partisan gerrymandering," Governor Cuomo said.  "With the legislature agreeing to pass this historic constitutional amendment twice by a specified date, and passing a tough statue that mirrors the amendment, we have taken a major step toward finally reforming the state's broken redistricting process. New York is now a leader among the growing number of states that have reformed their redistricting process to stop such gerrymandering." -- Governor Cuomo

“Cuomo’s Redistricting Constitutional Amendment is neither reform nor historic. It is totally flawed. Unfortunately, it was approved by the voters in November, 2014.

- Bill Samuels

Believe it not, Cuomo’s 2014 Restricting Amendment requires combining Staten Island with Suffolk, and it get weirder….

Professor Gerald Benjamin's Report Card on 2012 Redistricting Amendment using 14 criteria for evaluation.

4 F's, 

2 D's, 

3 C's, 

2 B's, 

3 A's 

Overall Grade of C-

 

Authored by

1. It uses the constitution to give political parties a legal and express stranglehold on redistricting.  
2. It sets up on even number commission, to foster gridlock in order to allow the Legslature to take over.
3. It memorializes and requires a patronage driven system for redistricting.
4. It  leaves the confusing and unconstitutional provisions of the current contstitution in place.
5. It doesn't expressly prohibit gerrymandering. 
6. It doesn't set the number of senate districts or clarify how the number is to be determined.
7. It encourages malapportionment between districts and regions.

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The Constitution places the power over redistricting in the hands of the Legislature to draw their own districts every ten years, enacting them as law upon signature by the Governor.  Leading into the 2012 redistricting year Governor Andrew Cuomo both as a campaign pledge and once in office as Governor promised to veto any gerrymandered lines proposed by the Senate and Assembly.  On March 14, 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo failed to veto the lines and in fact signed them in exchange for a deeply flawed Constitutional Amendment creating a redistricting commission beginning after 2020 that was approved by the Legislature for the first time in 2012 and again by a newly elected Legislature in January, 2013.  Voters decided to approve this Amendment in November, 2014.

Partisan Gerrymandering

 

In 2012 Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate President Pro-Temp Dean Skelos decided to make a deal on redistricting that would allow the Assembly and Senate to draw their own lines while leaving the hard part of drawing Congress for the Federal Courts.  Districts minimize bi-partisan competition by stacking districts with super majorities of one party or another, so that the general election rarely matters for the party in the minority.  This is true for both the Senate and Assembly.

Below are some examples of partisan gerrymandering of both the Democratically controlled Assembly Districts and Republican controlled Senate Districts that ignore constitutional redistricting principals in an effort to protect incumbents.

New York State Senate District 51 Case Study #1: "As compact form as practicable"?

New York State Senate District 51

Senator James L. Seward, Republican, Incumbent

Nickname: "The Central New York Ostrich"

  • Cover all or part of 9 different counties
  • More than 130 Miles Wide -- nearly 1/2 the Width of the State of New York which is 285 Miles
  • More than 145 Miles Tall -- almost 1/2 the Length of the State of New York at 330 Miles
  • Includes 3 different broadcast media markets
   

New York State Assembly 138

 

Case Study #2: "As compact a form as practicable"?

New York State Assembly District 138

Assembly Member Harry B. ​Bronson, Democrat, Incumbent

Nickname: "The Rochester Teapot"

  • Creates a District where Republicans living in suburban towns representing the majority of the landmass of the Assembly District are out numbered 2:1 by Democrats in "the Rochester Hook"
  • Carves the City of Rochester into three Democratic Assembly Districts representing the surrounding area
  • Divides communities of interest by connecting narrow areas on the outskirts of the City of Rochester with large suburban towns
  • Connected in several locations by narrow strips of land with no population
  • "For decades, Democrats have controlled the Assembly, and the mapmaking for their own house. That is why the district for Democrat Susan John in the Rochester area looks a little like a teapot. The bulk of her district is in the suburbs, prime Republican territory, but to keep Ms. John in office, the mapmakers added what looks like a curl of steam that runs through the most Democratic areas of Rochester. Without it, Ms. John’s seat could easily turn Republican." Editorial, "Gerrymandering, Pure and Corrupt," New York Times, November 11, 2009
   
New York State Senate District 60 

Case Study #3: "Consists of contiguous territory"?

New York State Senate District 60

Senator Mark Grisanti, Republican, Incumbent

Nickname: "A District Divided"

  • District previously gerrymandered as Democratic District to protect Republicans in adjoining districts by packing Democrats into a divided district that has a Democratic super majority has been gerrymandered back to protect a Republican incumbent that recently won the seat before redistricting
  • Two areas connected by shore line so that the district is only contiguous at low tide
  • Dropped populations of minorities and others likely to vote Democrat in the cities of Buffalo, Naigara Falls and on Grand Island
   
New York State Assembly District 101 

Case Study #4: "As compact form as practicable"?

New York State Assembly District 101

Assembly Member Claudia Tenney, Republican, Incumbent

Nickname: "The Hudson Valley Snake"

  • Spans parts of 7 Counties: Orange, Sullivan, Delaware, Ostego, Herkimer and Oneida
  • More than 125 Miles Long
  • Stretches across New York State down from the Mohawk Valley to the Hudson Valley
  • Covers 25 towns and one small city, Little Falls
  • It follows no major highway.  Even a trip on the state Thruway, which will take you well outside district boundaries, is nearly a four-hour drive from one end to the other
   
New York State Senate District 23 

Case Study #5: "No county shall be divided except to make two or more senate districts wholly in such county"

New York State Senate District 23

Senator Diane J. Savino, Independent Democrat, Incumbent

Nickname: "A Tale of Two Cities"

  • Divides Richmond and Kings Counties
  • Two areas in Brooklyn connected by shoreline so that district is only contiguous at low tide
  • Two areas connected by a bridge where the Kings County side isn't even the District
   
New York State Assembly District 13 

Case Study #6: "As compact a form as practicable"?

New York State Assembly District 13

Assembly Member Charles D. Levine, Democrat, Incumbent

Nickname: "The Snake of Long Island Sound"

  • Horseshoe-shaped district skims the shoreline of the Long Island Sound to connect Democrats in Glen Cove, Roslyn, Sea Cliff with Democrats in Jericho and Plainview
  • Almost completely wraps around Assembly District 15 a district packed with Republicans to create in order to create a Democratic district
  • Connected in several locations by narrow strips of land with no population

 




Governor Cuomo's Redistricting Amendment on November, 2014 Ballot, Which Subsequently Passed

 

"...If either house shall fail to approve the legislation implementing the second  redistricting  plan, or the governor shall veto such legislation and the legislature shall fail to override such veto, each  house  shall introduce  such  implementing legislation with any amendments each house of the legislature deems necessary.... If approved by both houses, such legislation shall be presented to the governor for action."

NEWS BEHIND THE CONSTITUTION
The Empire
Colby Hamilton
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
 Like a sequel to a horror movie most people never saw in the first place, New York’s redistricting saga continues to play out in court rooms and administrative offices from Washington, DC and Albany. 
Link to Original Source - Link to Cached Version
 
Times Union
Jimmy Vielkind
Thursday, April 5, 2012
 A sharp-eyed follower of legal briefs noticed something interesting in last week’s reply papers in the still-simmering redistricting lawsuit: Gov. Andrew Cuomo has retained outside counsel. 
Link to Original Source - Link to Cached Version
 
Capital Tonight
Liz Benjamin
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
 Most of the criticism and challenges to the LATFOR redistricting plans have focused on the Senate maps, but there is at least one area of the state that has generated consternation on the Assembly side. 
Link to Original Source - Link to Cached Version
 
Capital Tonight
Liz Benjamin
Friday, March 9, 2012
 Concern that the special master’s congressional maps will cost Democrats seats in true blue New York has spurred House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to get involved in the state’s redistricting battle. 
Link to Original Source - Link to Cached Version
 
Capital Tonight
Nick Reisman
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
 That’s the main question here at the Capitol as we continue to parse through Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s words on the subject. 
Link to Original Source - Link to Cached Version
 
OPINION EDITORIALS ON THE CONSTITUTION
Times Union
Editorial
Thursday, January 24, 2013
 Our opinion: A proposed constitutional amendment on redistricting would leave the Legislature as in control of the process as it is now. Voters should reject it. 
Link to Original Source - Link to Cached Version
 
Buffalo News
Bob McCarthy
Sunday, March 18, 2012
 Lines for New York’s congressional and legislative districts for the next decade are semi-finalized. Life in politics around here can now proceed. 
Link to Original Source - Link to Cached Version
 
SOLUTIONS
Non-legislative proposals from community groups, advocates and thought leaders.

 

 

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