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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

Dressed in their Sunday best, churchgoers came to the First Presbyterian Church of Levittown to take part in the biggest celebrated Sunday in the Christian year.

 

A special holiday calls for a special service, which was led by Reverend Terri Yvette Cissé-Ofori. There were flowers decorating the inside of the church as well as musicians playing their instruments throughout the service.

 

“Today is Resurrection Sunday,” said Cissé-Ofori. “Normally people call it Easter, but we celebrate the rising of Christ. We believe that Jesus rose from the dead, and he’s still alive.”

 

While Island Trees School District officials plan to reexamine a proposal to develop senior housing on 11.3 acres of property currently used to house the Stephen E. Karopczyc and Geneva N. Gallow schools, district officials have so far been unwilling to identify the developer. 

 

The plan to sell the Farmedge property was first conceived in 2010, when BOCES dropped its lease on the Gallow school. The school district issued a request for proposals. After reviewing its options, the Island Trees Board of Education selected and presented to the

public a proposal to develop 160 to 247 housing units for seniors over 55.After public outcry against the project, the district said it would go back to the drawing board, re-opening discussions and engaging a wide range of stakeholders. However, despite requests from the public and the press, the district has steadfastly declined to identify the developer of the initial proposal—which may yet end up being the winning bid. 


Sports

The Farmingdale State College baseball team earned an 8-2 victory over the College of Staten Island in a recent non-conference home game.

 

In the bottom of the second, left fielder Richard Sullivan of Farmingdale broke broke the scoreless tie on a two out RBI single. Senior third baseman Sal Sanquini of Levittown would go on to hit an RBI single through the left side to increase the lead 2-0. Sanquini was 2-for-4 at the plate with a game-high of 3 RBIs.

The Island Trees varsity softball team had an amazing 8-3 win in extra innings on April 2nd against a previously unbeaten Clarke team to improve their league record to 2-0.  Ashley Melendez opened up the scoring with a solo homerun to lead off the 4th inning. 

 

Although the team relinquished the lead in the 4th and 5thinnings, they did not let the negative turn of events get the best of them.   Down one with three outs left, Sam Scharff led off the top of the 7th with an amazing bunt for a hit.  Christie Ciaramitaro and Kelly Cembrale both reached on errors to keep the inning and team’s hopes alive.  Morgan Petry roped an RBI single up the middle to score courtesy runner, Kim Ahrens with the tying run.   


Calendar

Bellmore FD Fundraiser - April 25

Earth Day Cleanup - April 26

Bowling For Scholars - April 26


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