The word on everybody’s lips: Redistricting.

Posted on December 28th, 2010

December 28, 2010

Dear Lucretia,

Redistricting* is sort of a wonky issue. That’s one of the reasons it usually flies under the radar, and why politicians are able to game the system to their advantage so easily.

Not this year.

Over the weekend, as New Yorkers all over the state were enjoying their holidays or their movies, they opened their local newspapers to read about the importance of fast action on redistricting reform, and the work New York Uprising is doing to push the issue.

The Daily News in New York and the Times-Union in Albany traded editorial volleys directed at the two parties in the Senate, alleging disingenuousness on the part of each and calling on them to take the lead in implementing their reform pledges. The Times Herald-Record of the Hudson Valley summed it up: “The pot and the kettle are at it already.”

According to that paper: “The leader of the state Senate Republicans had pledged to keep politics out of the crucial task of redrawing election district boundaries. Now he is hedging. Leading the outrage and pointing fingers are Senate Democrats who were dragged reluctantly and belatedly to make the same promise.”

The Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester notes our success while making the case for reform locally: “Thanks to overwhelming voter support and former NYC Mayor Ed Koch’s efforts, 138 of 212 state legislators signed a pledge for independent redistricting.”

“The point of the Koch pledge was to minimize the politics of a process that the politicians have too long manipulated for their own survival,” Albany’s Times-Union wrote. “Mr. Skelos [the Senate GOP leader] ought to embrace what an independent commission could do to make redistricting notably less political.”

One Republican Senator told the Hudson Valley’s Times Herald-Record: “Failing to establish a new redistricting commission after so many lawmakers have pledged their support for one would be ‘a clear breach of promise,’ said Sen. John Bonacic.”

I don’t think they will break their promise. I believe that – because you and I are still paying attention – the members of the legislature who signed our pledges, Democrats and Republicans, will stand up and bring reform to our state: starting with impartial redistricting.

And even though it won’t be in time for the holidays, it will still be the best gift of all.

Happy New Year to you and yours.       




Ed Koch
Founder, New York Uprising

PS: With last week’s announcement that New York will lose two seats in Congress, this issue is even more important. A nonpartisan, independent commission is the only fair way to draw the new map and make the tough decision as to which seats will be eliminated. With public confidence in our elected officials at an all-time low, the new lines should reflect impartial demographic and population patterns – not backroom deals designed to protect favored incumbents at the voters’ expense.

Redistricting*Redistricting follows the Census every ten years, shifting the boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts to account for changes in population. It’s commonly associated with “gerrymandering,” where legislators draw oddly-shaped districts to maximize political advantage and insulate themselves from competition, allowing them to get away with the kind of bad behavior that has made our state a national joke.

New York Uprising advocates a non-partisan, independent approach.

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