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Divide Us At Your Peril

A typical response to criticism is “If you don’t like it, let’s see you do better.” Members of the Nassau County United Redistricting Coalition did just that: they didn’t like the map that the Republican members of the redistricting advisory commission drew for the county at all, so they decided to create their own. Furthermore, unlike the commission, which had a budget of $500,000, they did it with nothing.

“With no money in our budget, we have come up with a better map— an incredible map that involves listening to the community, listening to the vast numbers of residents that showed up to the public hearings, which the commission, oddly, ignored,” said Jackson Chin for LatinoJustice, a member organization of the coalition.

At a press conference held on the steps of the Legislative Building on Monday, Jan. 14, Chin and other speakers presented the coalition’s own non-partisan map, and spoke about the importance of working toward fair redistricting. After the press conference, they formally presented the map to the county legislature.

This comes on the heels of the official redistricting advisory commission’s failure to produce a map both sides could agree on. While the Republican-led legislature will likely consider the map put forward by the Republican members of the commission for implementation, speakers at the press conference made it clear that they did not consider a map created by one side of the aisle to be an acceptable solution.

“We are extremely disappointed in the commission’s inability to work together to have one map,” said Barbara Epstein, Redistricting Co-Chair for the Nassau County Chapter of the League of Women Voters, going on to urge the legislature to adopt the coalition’s  non-partisan map, with modifications if necessary.

Furthermore, in addition to concerns that the Republican map was drawn without input from the minority party, many believe the map is unconstitutional, since it splits many traditional communities of interest like Great Neck and the Five Towns.

“One of the things that we have to understand is that what has been proposed by the Republicans on the commission moves over half of the population of Nassau County into different districts and attempts to try to separate brother from brother and sister from sister,” said Fred Brewington, a civil rights lawyer who has made it abundantly clear that he is prepared to sue the legislature if they adopt the Republican map. “The whole point of redistricting is to be fair. What has happened thus far is completely unfair, but more so, it is insidious.”

 “You know they are trying to dilute the voice of the people and we will not stand for it anymore,” added Mimi Pierre Johnson from New York Communities for Change, an Elmont resident.

Later, at the legislative meeting, it was Brian Paul from Common Cause NY who presented the new map on behalf of the coalition, stating that it “offers a clear alternative to the partisan dysfunction and gerrymandering that has come to characterize the legislators official process.” Paul also read a list of demands to the legislature, including the stipulation that the legislature must release its proposed redistricting plan to the public no later than Jan. 25 (one month before the next scheduled public legislative session), and that at least four public hearings must be held during the following two weeks.

There was no specific discussion of the coalition’s map during the session, but Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams agreed with the commission on the subject of public hearings, stating that the legislature should hold as many as possible.

“If we owe the public anything, we owe them that,” Abrahams said.

The Nassau County United Redistricting Coalition includes Common Cause/NY, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, La Fuente Long Island Civic Participation Project, the League of Women Voters of Nassau County, the Long Island Civic Engagement Table, and the New York Civil Liberties Union of Nassau County. To view the data used to create the coalition’s map, visit www.nassauunited redistricting.org.


News

Nassau County drivers are up in arms due to the recent implementation of school zone speed cameras, which have issued numerous violations since they were installed just weeks ago. The source of residents beef with the county’s speed cameras stems from the cameras issuing speed violations even when school wasn’t in session.

 

Director of Nassau County Traffic Safety Chris Mistron said that while some residents were taken by surprise, summer school hours are still considered a violation period. 

One local mom was concerned about her shy daughter’s first acting class at the newly opened Neighborhood Entertainment Arts and Theatre (NEAT) at 166 Center Lane in Levittown; but after her daughter’s lesson with Theatre Director Watson Miller, she was surprised to hear her daughter broke out of her shell, singing not one, but two songs for the class. 

 

“My husband has a very special gift with kids,” Koula Miller said. “He brings out the best in them.” 


Sports

Golfer Annie Park, 19, of Levittown came close at the U.S. Women’s Amateur tourney, but missed the cut, finishing at 149, 9 strokes over par and just one stroke away from the match-play cut-off. 

 

“I couldn’t make any putts, so then I had more pressure into my shots to get it closer,” Park said, “but obviously that’s not going to work.”

It might not be what you think of as a traditional sport, but at Eisenhower Park people are doing flips in the air and dangling from harnesses, training at I.FLY, a recreational flying trapeze and circus arts program.

 

Anna Marie Cagnazzi is a fairly new convert. “I love the freedom that I feel and the sense of accomplishment that I get,” Cagnazzi said. “Everyone always cheers, and I feel so good about myself. You don’t get to feel that in your everyday life.”

 

Over a year ago the 30-year-old Bethpage resident had no idea that a regular person could trapeze recreationally. Then a co-worker suggested they try a I.FLY class together. 


Calendar

BOE Meeting - August 13

Job Fair - August 13

Liverpool Shuffle - August 14 


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