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Once again, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has shown that he is a man of integrity not afraid to ruffle the feathers of the Democratic and Republican party bosses. Last week, he threatened to reject the final product of a joint legislative panel charged with redrawing the state’s district lines if the final result does not meet his standard for fairness.
“I will veto lines that are not drawn by an independent commission, that are partisan,” said Cuomo.
The lines are redrawn every 10 years following the census to account for population shifts. Traditionally, the legislative majority has made certain that the lines were redrawn to allow politicians to choose their own voters. A look at the map shows the mess created by years of political manipulation.
There is no better example of this manipulation than the 12th Congressional District, which includes parts of Queens, Brooklyn and the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It was created to group together Latino voters. In 1992, Nydia Velazquez was elected in this district and became the first Puerto Rican woman in Congress. To this day, she continues to represent the 12th District.
Cuomo favors the creation of an independent entity that would draw up the blueprint for redistricting, but the legislation needed to make this happen was narrowly defeated in the Republican-controlled state Senate.
Ironically, the Senate Republican candidates signed a campaign pledge to bring about redistricting reform. But in March, the Senate voted to delay a changeover to the system until after the 2020 census.
One of the districts certain to be eliminated in 2013 is the 9th Congressional District, which had been represented by former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner. The district includes parts of Queens and Brooklyn. The Queens Democratic Party has selected state Assemblyman David Weprin to run for the seat in a special election Sept. 13.
Although his time as a congressman would be short-lived, political insiders say Weprin, if elected, could use this election as a stepping stone in a possible run for citywide office.
We trust the governor will use his veto power to make certain the new district lines will serve the interests of the people.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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