Redistricting Plan Gets Scornful Reception

Michael Gianaris

February 15, 2012

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.

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall noted that the session was “one of the most important meetings we have ever had”. State Senator Michael Gianaris in the five minutes allotted him quickly went over the long presentation he’d prepared. Bypassing his own district or any other in Queens, he put up reapportioned senate maps from Nassau County, just beyond Queens; Westchester County, just north of the city, and Monroe County, in the mid-to-western part of the state. He said they provided examples of what is known as either “cracking” or “packing”. He called redistricting in Hempstead, Nassau County an example of cracking, which distributes a concentration of ethnic similarity into less similar areas. Hempstead’s concentration of black citizens was redistributed into four senatorial districts, Gianaris said, separating a solid black entity into four parts and putting them in four districts represented by white men. The same was done in Monroe County, where the entire city of Rochester was split into three senate districts. He carried his claim to Westchester, saying that in that county, the cities of White Plains, New Rochelle and Yonkers are either cracked or packed. A significant section of ethnic minorities in Senate District 37 is removed and placed in SD 35, reducing the minority population of SD 37, thus cracking it. At the same time, it adds to an already large minority population in SD 35, packing that district. The result, Gianaris said, is a diminution of minority ethnic representation in SD 37 and a dubious increase in SD 35, since the Republicans concede that the district is Democratic and dropping a surplus of assumed Democratic voters into it does Republicans no favors.

Read the full article here.