Don't make bad deal for bad maps

Michael Gianaris

February 29, 2012

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.

Five years ago, I helped the New York City Bar Association craft just such an amendment. But an amendment should not be linked to the redistricting bill that may come to a vote as early as next week.

If the legislature approves an amendment this year, it would have to be passed a second time in 2013, by the legislators who are elected in November. Only then would it go to the voters for ratification. Advocates of a deal suggest that the legislative majorities -- Republicans in the Senate, Democrats in the Assembly -- would vote for an amendment now, if Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo offers to sign a somewhat-improved version of their redistricting plans in exchange.

But next year, after the legislative majorities have secured their re-election by assiduous gerrymandering, there would be no leverage to force them to pass the amendment a second time. They can hardly be counted on to relinquish the very means by which they remained in power.

Read the full article here.