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Redistricting Rage

Residents incensed over redistricting map proposed by Republican members of redistricting commission; Republican commissioners refuse to respond

The hundreds who gathered in Mineola for the last meeting of the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission on Jan. 3 didn’t throw any tomatoes at the front of the room, but some came close. For more than four hours, approximately 50 speakers lambasted the map proposed by the Republican side of the commission, generally characterizing it as a transparent power play with no consideration for the public good or even the law. The Democratic commissioners were not completely spared the public’s ire, but most of the anger was directed at the Republicans; the Democrats’ map, proposed at nearly the last minute on Dec. 31, was praised, although somewhat tepidly, as a fair plan.

Considering that hundreds of angry people were crammed into the Legislative Chambers demanding answers from the Republican commissioners, who by and large didn’t respond, it’s remarkable that tempers didn’t flare more.

Many speakers questioned the legitimacy of the entire redistricting process. Democratic commissioner Bonnie Garone pointed out that the public did not get the series of hearings on the proposed maps that they were promised, and that the sole Jan. 3 hearing was scheduled at the last minute, without adequate notice, during the holidays. She characterized the entire process as “a charade.”

Henry Boitel of Rockville Center brought up the issue of whether the commission’s work was being properly documented. According to Boitel, he filed a request for documents from the commission under the Freedom of Information Act, only to receive very few, leading him to believe that documentation was essentially being kept off the record. Boitel, one of the few to criticize both sides of the commission, requested that they both preserve all documentation used in creating their maps, because “the courts will want to see it.”

Non-voting Chairman Francis X. Moroney presented the Republican side and denied claims from the Democrats and various speakers that it was inappropriate for the non-voting chair to present the map in place of the commissioners who had supposedly drawn it.

Repeatedly the question was asked: Why does the map split so many well-established communities into two, three, and sometimes even four legislative districts?

Laurie Beth Schwartz of Saddle Rock said that under the new map, most of her neighbors will no longer be in her legislative district, forcing her to “get in a boat” in order to talk to people represented by the same legislator. Furthermore, she contended that this map would make it much harder for legislators to even do their jobs. “A legislator who has to come to a PTA meeting, or a village hall meeting, now has to go to three or four or five different communities just to hear the issues that affect the people that he or she is supposed to be representing,” said Schwartz.

Howard Weitzman, former mayor of Great Neck Estates and former Nassau County Comptroller, claimed that the Republican map creates “the most bald-faced partisan power grab that has ever been seen in the history of Nassau County.”

Moroney insisted that the map was fair, incumbent-blind and would hold up under legal scrutiny. Several lawyers disagreed. 

Lucia Gomez-Jimenez of La Fuente, one of the many organizations that have joined together as part of the Nassau County United Redistricting Coalition (which has presented its own map for the legislature’s consideration), noted that just because the map was formed with population data from the U.S. census does not mean it isn’t a blatant manipulation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. “We need to stop just looking at mere numbers and statistics. The reality is that census data can be manipulated in many different ways.”

Following the comments, commissioners voted on the Republican map (neither the Democrats’ map nor any others were officially presented). With only 5 of the 10 commissioners in favor, it didn’t pass.

As a result, after seven months and $500,000, the commission is officially presenting no recommendation to the county legislature. Nonetheless, many expect the Republican map (or even the nearly as divisive Republican map drawn in 2011) to be voted upon by the legislature. Many speakers said that while the Republicans may think they have the muscle to push the map through, it won’t be implemented without a fight.

“I don’t want to sue you,” said civil rights attorney Fred Brewington, taking a dramatic pause. “But I will.”

News

This month, the Professional Golfers Association of America [PGA] hosted the Barclays Tournament—part of the first round of PGA’s FedEx Tournament with a $1 million prize—at the Bethpage Black Golf Course. From the event, the PGA released $50,000 to the Village of Farmingdale. 

 

“It was great working with the Farmingdale community, one of the best host communities in the country”, said Peter Mele, PGA Tour Director.

Secatogue Avenue between the LIRR train station and Eastern Parkway will be closed until September 1, due to the ongoing construction of Jefferson Plaza—a $59 million transit-oriented development project next to the LIRR station—which will involve installation of water, gas, cable and electrical utility lines underground. When finished, the two phase construction project is expected to end in 154 new apartment units as well as another approximately 19,400 square feet of retail space.

 

“The main reason for doing this now is that there is much less traffic in July and August around the train station,” said Farmingdale Village Mayor Ralph Ekstrand. 


Sports

Throughout the summer, the Farmingdale Observer will feature the box scores from the Farmingdale Baseball League Inc.’s 9/11 Baseball Tournament. 

July 13

Plainedge 12 - Island Trees 2 (9UB)

 

Ozone Howard Huskies 14 - Wantagh Hawks 1 (9UA)

The Farmingale Devils Travel Baseball teams were in action during The 4th of July weekend and provided fireworks in two different states.

 

The 11U Devils won their third tournament this year. They traveled  to Connecticut for the fourth of July tournament. The Devils lost game one on Saturday 7-5 to the Connecticut Defenders and won game two 17-0,The Devils advanced to the playoff round and would meet the Defenders again .The bats were on fire all day led by Big Joe Mcgrath and Nick Franco.The Devils beat the Defenders 11-5 and advanced to the championship to play the number one seed and undefeated Hit Club. The Devils jumped out to 4-2 to lead .The game was tied at 9-9 going to the 6th inning and the Devils would score 2 runs and hold on to win the tournament. The Devils had 52 hits and scored 44 runs,Big Joe had 4 doubles a triple, Nick Franco had 8 hits. Anthony Quatromani 8hits.Matt DiSanti drove in the last run in the championship game. Tim Dorman 6 hits. Patrick Quinn 5 hits and 6 stolen bases. Nick O'Connor 3 hits and 4 stolen bases. Kyle Gaertner 6 hits and was winner pitcher in championship game. Patrick Sanchez was the winning pitcher in semi-final game.


Calendar

DJ Dancetime - July 31

Over The Hill Gang - August 1

Mini Golf and Ices - August 2


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com