After months of threatening to veto the incumbent-protected, gerrymandered legislative lines, the governor punted and sold us out.
Former Mayor Ed Koch, good government groups, and numerous civic organizations like Eastern Queens United called on the governor to veto the legislative lines that are drawn every 10 years after the Census. Hundreds of civic activists including myself attended public hearings asking that communities be kept together and not divided. These public hearings were nothing more than a well-orchestrated dog and pony show conducted by legislators whose contempt and disdain for the civics was manifested by their brazenly community-busting gerrymandered district lines.
The governor was afforded an opportunity to veto these lines and up until the last moment threatened to do so. That is until the three men in a room (Shelly Silver, Dean Skelos and the governor) crafted their secret deal. They called the governor’s bluff and he caved in.
Gov. Cuomo is now spinning this agreement on district lines as a permanent fix. The so-called “fix,” which is scheduled to take place 10 years from now after the next Census, simply replaces one panel of politicians with another panel of political appointees. Allowing the same folks that created this mess to appoint a panel of political cronies to draw up new lines is not reform but politics as usual! And if the Legislature doesn’t like the lines drawn by its own commission, members can simply vote no and draw the lines themselves.
This is a sham and a slap in the face to every civic organization that advocated for a process that would serve the needs of the communities rather than the interests of the politicians.
The governor could have refused to buckle and veto these community-busting lines, setting up a truly independent judicial panel to draw non-partisan lines. Instead, he chose the path of political expediency. He sold us out and will now count on the short memory span of voters.