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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

Seven in contest for three seats on school board

On April 8, members of the Levittown Property Owners Association invited all seven candidates in the running for Island Trees School District Board of Education to a “Meet the Candidates” forum. Of the seven only four attended, and only three spoke on the dais. 

 

According to Levittown Property Owners President Diane Kirk, members of the Island Trees School District were invited to attend the forum, but declined stating that they were going to attend their own forum on May 12.

 

Challenger Brian Fielding, a 1995 Island Trees High School graduate, opened the forum with the promise of more transparency.  

Due to what appears to be a colossal error on the part of the Nassau County Assessor’s office, or perhaps an errant interpretation of state law, nearly 2,000 military veterans and Gold Star families in Levittown and Island Trees will have to wait for their tax break until next year. 

 

Both the Levittown and Island Trees school districts are among several local school districts that recently approved resolutions extending the exemption to local veterans, even though budgets and Albany’s tax cap make it a tough choice. Earlier this year, trustees in both districts voted unanimously to provide a school tax exemption for veterans living in the district, starting with the 2014-15 school year. 


Sports

Cantiague Park Senior Men’s Golf League had its first tournament on Thursday April 4. Twenty golfers came out on on a crisp but sunny morning. Charlie Hong was the only man to score under a 40, with a 38 and won for low overall score. Jim O’ Brien  scored a 41, and won low overall net in a tie-breaker with Mike Guerriero. 

 

Competition on the nine-hole course is divided into two divisions. Flight A is for players with a handicap of 13 or lower. Flight B is for players with a handicap of 14 or more.  The league is a 100 percent handicap league. Any man 55 years or older is eligible for membership. We have many openings for this year, and you can sign up anytime throughout the the season. 

Friday Pins, Pizza & Pepsi

Trevor Williams 166,101

 

Keith Kyte 137,119,115

 

Anthony Baio 111,73

 

Alyssa Williams 141,133,120

 

Lauren Walpole 114,105,96

 

Kaitlyn Insinna 106,68,67

 

Robert Brooler 107,97

 

Frank Pietraniello 94

 

Friday Bumper Stars

Matthew Banfich 140,95

 

Nicky Barrera 115,99

 

Jake Mauro 107

 

Anthony Barrera 97,79

 

Michael Pietraniello 97,87

 

Ty Peranzo 95

 

Steven Tiemer 92

 

Nick Bevinetto 90,82

 

Ava Banfich 103,101

 

Julianna Mauro 103,87

 

Gianna Centonze 102,91

 

Victoria Gray 91,87

 

Mike Rosen 87,86

 

Steven Brauer 85,83

 

Stephan Mandola 83

 

Joey Mohaudt 81

 

Pantelis Siriodis 80

 

Kelsey Casperson 85,73

 

Stephanie Tiemer 71,67

 

Kathleen Hoffman 68,65

 

Friday Rising Stars

Jason Tiemer 191,169,138

 

Max Benson 179

 

Andrew Scarpaci 168,162,148

 

Avery Benson 151,149,135

 

Matthew Brezinski 143,110

 

Ted Fiber 128,115,114

 

Paul Klein 126,107

 

Nicholas Pisano 123,115

 

Billy Walsh 108

 

Saturday

Levittown Island trees

 

Michael Beck 117,89

 

Zach Pilser 114,110

 

Sophia Bloom 93,90

 

Olivia Bloom 81,79

 

Christian Tucci 88,85

 

Louis Bonaventura 84,79

 

Ava Tucci 74,65

 

— Submitted by the South Levittown Lanes


Calendar

Maundy Thursday - April 17

Andrew Dice Clay - April 17

American Legion - April 18


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