2012-02-03 / Front Page

Say It Ain’t So, Joe

NYS Redistricting Ousts Malcolm, Brings Back Addabbo
By Nicholas Briano

State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., who once represented the western end of Rockaway from 2002 to 2008, prior to becoming a mainland State Senator, may once again be representing the Rockaway peninsula if the proposed redistricting lines, or ones similar to those, ultimately pass through Governor Cuomo.

Under the current proposed district lines, State Senator Malcolm Smith will no longer represent the Rockaway peninsula. Instead his district will shift to neighborhoods north of Far Rockaway and the westernmost portions of Nassau County. With Smith no longer in the picture, the Rockaway peninsula will be divided between two state senators. Addabbo will represent Broad Channel and the western end of the peninsula up to around the area of Beach 98 Street. Shirley Huntley will represent the rest of the peninsula east of Beach 98 Street. The proposed lines are a major shift for Huntley, whose closest relationship previously to the Rockaways was serving constituents in Broad Channel, which will now be represented by Addabbo. Huntley will also represent areas of Jamaica and Addabbo’s mainland constituents will include Howard Beach, Ozone Park and portions of other neighborhoods heading north.

The proposed redistricting of the State Assembly doesn’t hold as drastic a change, with Assemblymembers Goldfeder and Titus retaining the majority of their respective dis- tricts. Minor changes in Goldfeder’s district propose he lose several blocks of constituents in Ozone Park, while gaining a few blocks of residents in areas of Far Rockaway. The residents that lose Titus in Far Rockaway will now be represented by Goldfeder with Titus receiving a handful more of mainland constituents than she had previously.

The lines still must be approved by Governor Cuomo who had threatened prior to the process that he would veto any redistricting proposals gerrymandered by politicians to protect their seats and the Assembly or Senate majorities.

That promise is one he seems willing to keep as he announced late last week that he plans to veto both the Senate and Assembly redistricting maps, calling them “unacceptable.” Once the veto of the lines takes place, negotiations will follow and a compromise among all parties will be necessary before the new lines are finalized and signed by the Governor, a process that can carry on for months. Addabbo welcomes the idea of representing Rockaway once again, but feels that redistricting must be designed with communities in mind, not party politics. “The thought of going back [to Rockaway] is intriguing and I wouldn’t mind it at all, but at the same time I have always been a longtime advocate of keeping communities together,” Addabbo told The Wave this week. “Then here comes Rockaway, for example, who for a long time had one state senator and is now being divided into two, which I don’t think is very fair.”

Cuomo has tried to focus his time as Governor on changing the philosophy and dysfunction of past Albany politics, but these redistricting maps, Addabbo says, revert back to those same practices. When asked if he was surprised to find himself potentially serving Rockaway again, he replied, “Nothing surprises me anymore, especially when it comes to Albany politics. I focus on working and let chips fall where they may.”

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