Written by Karen Gellender Friday, 11 January 2013 00:00
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.”
Thursday, 16 May 2013 00:00
Island Trees Union Free School District faces a few hurdles in its upcoming 2013-14 budget. The loss of the BOCES Geneva N. Gallow building lease and the increasing mandated retirement system (TRS/ERS) adds up to $2 million in lost revenue. The TRS/ERS contributions increased by almost $1.4 million, and the Gallow lease loss totals approximately $500,000, including the utility costs.
Wednesday, 15 May 2013 00:00
What motivates a collector to dedicate a portion of his or her life to searching for the most rare and beautiful forms of a certain item? Is it their love of stamps from all over the world or is it their desire to find the most complex and unique model of a car? From jewelry and dolls to sports memorabilia and computers, a collector’s interests can range from the most bizarre items to the most common. Michael Katz, longtime collector of vintage radios from the 1920s to ’50s, said that the two kinds of things collectors go for are “stuff that’s really unusual and really decorative or the rare and expensive sets.”
Friday, 17 May 2013 00:00
Don’t miss out on the chance to partake in an 8-week spring flying trapeze workshop! There is one space left in the Tuesday class for adults from 6:15 p.m. to 7:45 p.m., and four spaces left in the Thursday class from 6:15 p.m. to 7:45 p.m., which is open to all ages.
The workshops will take place at the Aquatic Center at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, New York.
Sign up online at iflytrapeze.com or call 516.640.6995 for more information.
Friday, 17 May 2013 00:00
The Lady Generals lacrosse team at MacArthur High School earned the #1 spot and the title of 2013 conference champions, an accomplishment that last occurred in 2006. The team finished with a conference record of 9-1, succumbing in their only game to Oyster Bay by a one-goal deficit.