Opinion Editorial on Redistricting Prisoners
The right way for redistrictingEditorial
Our opinion: The Legislature won’t give up the power it needs to surrender. Can we trust the wrong people to do what’s even close to the right thing?
So there was the state Legislature, holding hearings last week on how to redraw its own district lines in time for its members to run for re-election next year.
Can state government get any more surreal?
These are hearings that no matter how they turn out, never should have taken place.
The Legislature should have conceded by now, under whatever political force was necessary, what amounts to the power to select each member’s own voters. The commission known as LATFOR is at best unnecessary and at worst an insurmountable obstacle to public confidence in democracy.
The task of fixing state government won’t be remotely completed until redistricting is the responsibility of an independent commission. The triumphs of the June conclusion of the legislative session leave urgent yet unfinished business for the August doldrums.
This is a time to watch a resistant, territorial Legislature with bemusement and trepidation. The lines LATFOR draws easily could be the Assembly and Senate boundaries come next year’s elections.
So what should the public demand from it?
The answer is a fair redistricting process free of even a hint of political motivation. The goal should be the more competitive legislative elections that in New York are little more than a civics book platitude.
So let’s watch out for especially blatant examples of electoral map-making that smack of incumbent protection. That’s especially critical in the Senate, where the Republicans have made it painfully clear that independent redistricting is a good issue to run on when they’re out of power but not when they’re trying to maintain a tiny majority.
Let’s demand, in essence, that the wrong people do the right thing.
The more self-serving the new district lines are, the more likely and more justifiable the veto that Governor Cuomo has threatened will be.
For now, the public’s best hope is this: Perhaps a Legislature under so much pressure to give up its redistricting powers might be compelled to draw district lines similar to what an independent commission might propose. Not necessarily in the interests of reform, but more in the name of political expedience.
LATFOR has done the right thing and agreed to stop the travesty of counting prisons inmates in the districts where they’re incarcerated, rather than where they otherwise would live. So ends a charade designed to help the Republicans keep their Senate majority by adding a district or two upstate, where most of the prisons are located.
Score one, strange as it sounds, for the people who shouldn’t be in the redistricting business.
Do that, and hope that the new Assembly and Senate maps will produce a Legislature ready to do what this one should have done, namely surrender its power to manipulate the electoral process