If powerholders in the New York State government have any decency, they will “…spare New Yorkers further hypocrisy and keep to themselves ridiculous claims that their bold-faced power grab was done in the name of minority enfranchisement.” This is just one of the dozens of bitter statements that came out of yesterday’s proposed NYS Assembly and Senate district maps.
The proposed maps, released by the New York State Legislative task Force on Demographic Reapportionment and Redistricting (LATFOR), are supposedly well-intentioned, drawn to create districts where minorities are the majority of the residents. The LATFOR’s website explains that the districts they draw are intended to ensure “your right to fair and effective representation.” That all sounds nice, but one glance at the New York City State Senate map is all it takes to question the righteousness of their proposed districts.
Governor Andrew Cuomo quickly called the maps “unacceptable” as politicians from across the state attacked LATFOR for intentionally drawing possible challengers out of their home districts and creating districts likened to “squids” and “a baby alien popping out of a stomach.”
These brazenly gerrymandered districts are only part of the problem. Demos and the Prison Policy Initiative have been part of the ongoing battle to ensure LATFOR correctly counts prisoners in their home communities in the census, ensuring fair representation for urban communities. While this battle has been largely successful (after lawsuits and arm twisting), the fight for fairly drawn districts is clearly still underway.
Sure, Governor Cuomo is not a pillar of righteousness, but he is right about one thing: the proposed districts as they stand today are entirely “unacceptable.” That LATFOR and its political supporters have the audacity to claim to have designed these just for minority communities is simply abhorrent.