2012-03-02 / Top Stories

Courts Ordered To Draw Districts

By Howard Schwach

With the New York State Congressional primary election set by the federal courts for June 26, only four months away, a federal court judge in Brooklyn has instructed Magistrate Ronnie L. Mann to prepare a map of Congressional districts and has set March 12 as the deadline.

The court also appointed a redistricting expert from Columbia Law School to assist in the task.

The judge said at a hearing earlier this week that he expects to reveal the new Congressional districts by March 20.

Because of the 2010 Census, New York State must lose two Congressional seats and it is widely believed that the 9th Congressional District, which includes parts of Rockaway, and was once represented by Congressman Anthony Weiner, may be one of the two congressional districts cut from the election map.

At the same time, New York State legislative leaders are meeting in Albany to revise the maps for the State Senate and Assembly that they revealed a month ago.

Those lines were widely reviled by experts and residents alike as being “political” and “self-serving.”

The legislative primary is set for September 11.

In the maps revealed last month, Rockaway was split in half in both the Senate and the Assembly.

State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., who represented the western end of Rockaway in the City Council from 2002 to 2008, prior to becoming a mainland State Senator, was slated to represent the western end of the peninsula, from Beach 98 Street to the tip of the peninsula, as well as all of Broad Channel.

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.

In the proposed redistricting of the New York State Assembly only minor changes are proposed, with Assemblymembers Goldfeder and Titus retaining the majority of their respective districts. 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 who 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.

Cuomo has promised to veto the new lines, but has apparently been reluctant to do so until the court gets involved.

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