Issues: Voter Protection

3/21/2012: NAACP Press Conference

On Wednesday, March 21, 2012, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) held a press conference to discuss their opposition to the Senate redistricting plan and Tier VI pension. NAACP President Hazel Dukes introduced Senator Huntley who spoke about how the redistricting plan created by Senate Republicans. Senator Huntley proclaimed that lines were drawn in such a manner that her own house was close to not being in her district and that she has to move her Jamaica District Office. Various elected officials spoke as well including Senate Minority Leader John Sampson, Senator Velmanette Montgomery, Assemblyman Karim Camara and Assemblyman Keith Wright. Assemblyman William Boyland.

March 21, 2012
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State Lawmakers, Government Watchdog Discuss Albany All-Nighter

NY1 posted a video that features Senator Gianaris and his discussion of the "Albany All-Nighter."

Watch the video here

March 19, 2012
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Grading the Redistricting Amendment

Politicker wrote an editorial about Professor Gerry Benjamin, expert on the mechanisms of government, and the C- grade he gave to the new Redistricting Amendment.

Professor Gerry Benjamin, an expert on the mechanisms of government at State University of New York at New Paltz, was asked by Citizens’ Committee for an Effective Constitution to take a look at Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature’s much-touted redistricting amendment and grade it point-by-point against what a truly independent amendment would look like.

 

Unsurprisingly, he found it wanting. He gave the amendment a ‘C-’ overall on an ‘A’ through ‘F’ scale.

 

March 19, 2012
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Gianaris Shove It

This video captures Senator Gianaris' closing remarks during Senate session, in which the agreed-upon redistricting maps were under dispute. 

Watch the video here

March 19, 2012
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'Shove it': Senate Dems grapple with a redistricting plan they can't do anything about

An editorial posted by Capital discusses the debate between Senate Republicans and Senate Democrates over the agreed-upon redistricting lines, which Senate Democrats have strongly criticized.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a redistricting deal that his fellow Democrats in the minority of the State Senate have been criticizing as "unfair," "unconstitutional" and the "worst" in the state's history.

 

But what led them to walk out of the Senate chambers last night, ostensibly, was a Republican move to change the agreed-upon time allowed to debate the bill from four hours to two.

 

Until the walkout, the debate had been substantive, if escalatingly hostile.

 

March 19, 2012
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Senator Gianaris Explains Vote Against S.2601

This video shows Senator Gianaris voting against a bill that does not allow residents from power plant-heavy areas, such as western Queens, to become trustees of the New York Power Authorities Board of Trustees.

Watch the video here.

March 19, 2012
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Bill would stiffen sex offender penalties

Queens Courier reports on a new bill introduced by Senator Gianaris that would strengthen penalties for repeat sex offenders.

In an effort to keep the public safe from sexual abuse, the New York State Senate has passed a bill increasing the penalty for repeat offenders.

 

The Senate has approved legislation introduced by Senator Michael Gianaris which excludes time spent in prison from the 10-year period during which the actions of a repeat sex offender are deemed “persistent sexual abuse.”

 

Under the current law, criminals who commit certain sex crimes on multiple occasions can count time they are incarcerated towards the decade-long period in which they are subject to harsher penalties.

 

March 19, 2012
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SENATE PASSES 2012-13 BUDGET RESOLUTION

Gallivan: “Senate Plan Cuts Taxes, Reforms Medicaid, Protects Seniors and Schools.”

The New York State Senate voted to approve its 2012-13 Senate Budget resolution, continuing its focus on state spending, job creation, and structural reform to government.

The Senate budget, at just under $132.5 billion, keeps the total state spending increase below two percent, and spends less than the Executive Budget. The budget closes a $2 billion budget deficit and builds on last year’s successes in putting the state’s fiscal house in order.

March 13, 2012
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Democratic State Senator, His District Threatened, Focuses on Party’s Future

The New York Times wrote a piece on Senator Gianaris and the Democrats' efforts to recapture the Senate majority.

Michael N. Gianaris, a Democratic state senator from Astoria, Queens, was in bed at 11:30 one night in January when a reporter called. Republicans were drafting new Senate districts to reflect the 2010 census, and word had leaked of what they had in store for Mr. Gianaris: his neighborhood would be appended to the district of a fellow Democratic senator.

[...]

“One thing I’ve learned being in public service is that feathers must be ruffled if anything’s going to change,”

March 12, 2012
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Sen. Gianaris on Redistricting Amendment

Capital Tonight's Liz Benjamin interviewed Senator Gianaris in regards to a potential amendment to the redistricting process. 

Watch the interview here

March 12, 2012
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Details emerge on possible redistricting amendment

An editorial by The Empire talks about the discussed ammendment to the constitution that would bring about change to the redistricting process. Michael Gianaris and other critics, however, point out that the proposed ammendment would still allow legislatures to have final say, which defeats the purpose of redistricting reform.

The Times-Union’s Casey Seiler has a piece up today about the emerging details of a possible deal between Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature for a constitutional amendment to change the state’s redistricting process.

 

March 2, 2012
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Details emerge on possible constitutional change

Times Union reports on negotiations between the Governor, Assembly, and Senate for a possible constitutional ammendment that would create an independent redistricting body. Many believe the new ammendment will not keep legislatures from influencing the redistricting process, including Senator Gianaris, who believes that "if the final product still leaves the Legislature with the final say, we’ve achieved nothing.”

A possible constitutional change to New York’s redistricting process would create a 10-member independent panel to draw the state’s political lines beginning in 2021, but would allow the Legislature to make final tweaks to the plan if the Assembly and Senate fail to pass it after two tries.

[...]

March 2, 2012
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Veto the map, Gov. Cuomo

Former New York Mayor, Ed Koch, wrote an editorial for the New York Daily News that calls out the current redistricting proposal for being blatantly partisan and urges Governor Cuomo to veto any redistricting bill proposed by the legislature.

About two years ago, I felt the same way as most New Yorkers — our state government was dysfunctional, self-serving and an embarrassment. Along with a group of like-minded reformers, I decided to do something about it, forming New York Uprising, an advocacy effort to change the way legislative and congressional district lines are drawn.

 

Our goal, simply, was to return power to the people.

 

March 2, 2012
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Don't make bad deal for bad maps

Newsday reports that a compromise suggested to the Governor that would validate the proposed redistricting maps, in exchange for promises to reform the process by 2022, would not fix the current redistricting problems and should not be considered.

Several observers of the once-in-a-decade redistricting of the State Senate and Assembly, including former Attorney General Robert Abrams and the nonpartisan good-government group Citizens Union, called on the governor yesterday to compromise on the new lines in exchange for a state constitutional amendment taking this process out of the hands of the legislature -- for the next round, in 2022.

February 29, 2012
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A farce, by any other name

An editorial written by Times Union highlights the degree to which New York's redistricing process is flawed, pointing to the fact that the proposed lines were so partisan, court judges were forced to intervene.

There may not be enough bad words in a thesaurus to fully describe the state Legislature’s handling of redistricting. But a court decision on Monday to take over the drafting of congressional lines in New York speaks volumes about how badly this state’s self-interested lawmakers have failed (see: completely, utterly, dismally).

 

February 29, 2012
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Cuomo must demand a permanent gerrymandering ban — or else

NY Daily News wrote and article about redistricting, saying that the Governor should enact reform that would put an end to gerrymandering.

Gov. Cuomo holds the ultimate weapon in the battle against gerrymandering — his threatened veto of district maps drawn in ridiculously partisan fashion by the Legislature.

 

He must void the absurd boundaries drawn by the Assembly and Senate and turn map -making over to the courts — except in the unlikely event that lawmakers radically alter their work and establish long-term reforms.

 

As things stand, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s Democrats and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos’ Republicans conspired in drawing districts with grossly uneven populations that maximize incumbent protection.

February 29, 2012
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Down to the Wire on Redistricting

An editorial by the The New York Times reports that judges are expected to decide this week on whether or not a special master will be appointed to fix the redistricting debacle. Senator Gianaris believes that court intervention is the best hope for having fairer district lines drawn.

It is crunch time for New York lawmakers, who are required to draw new maps for Congressional and legislative districts in time for the 2012 elections. The Congressional primaries are supposed to take place June 26, and as usual, the mapmakers are extremely late. It’s possible that they will release the Congressional maps, which have been drawn up in secret, this week since the Legislature is hoping to approve the new district lines by March 1.

February 22, 2012
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Judges must fix redistricting mess

The Queens Chronicle wrote an article that further delves into the problems of the Senate Republicans' redistricting proposal and how federal judges may need to step in.

Gov. Cuomo is reforming the state government in leaps and bounds, but many members of the Legislature haven’t gotten the memo yet. So the redrawing of lawmakers’ districts for the Assembly, Senate and U.S. Congress following the Census has been typical of the Albany of years past: behind schedule, nonsensical in many respects and, of course, utterly politicized.

February 22, 2012
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Redistricting Plan Gets Scornful Reception

The Queens Gazette reported on a redistricting hearing in Queens, where elected officials and community leaders were given the opportunity to voice their disapproval of the Senate Republicans' redistricting proposal. Senator Gianaris spoke at the hearing and gave several examples of how the new district lines are being used to break apart minority communities in order to control district representation.

February 15, 2012
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The geography 
of a sham

The Times Union wrote an editorial that talks about redistricting and how it has recently become even clearer that the Senate Republicans are attempting to exploit the redistricting process as a means to promote their partisan agenda.

Our opinion: Yet again, we’re shown how blatantly partisan the redistricting process is. It’s not to late for the Legislature to do the right thing, but if it doesn’t, we’ll look to Governor Cuomo to stand firm.

 

Yes, we are writing again about redistricting, a topic that New York lawmakers are undoubtedly counting on people to get so tired of that we’ll all just shut up and let them rig elections for the next 10 years.

 

February 15, 2012
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