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

Michael Gianaris

March 19, 2012

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.


The plan was defended for nearly two hours by Republican Michael Nozzolio, a white-haired, neatly composed lawyer who is, as Jimmy Vielkind described him, "built like he played football at a nerd college."


Astoria-based Democrat Michael Gianaris, a Harvard-trained lawyer, dismissed Nozzolio's argument that the redistricting plan—which is nakedly partisan, to profit the Senate Republicans as well as the majority Democrats in the Assembly—was amended to reflect public input gathered from the 23 public hearings around the state held by the legislature's redistricting task force.


Gianaris said, among other things, that black New Yorkers are disenfranchised in the plan, pointing to the fact that on the new map, the nine Senate districts with the highest black populations have, in total, the same number of residents as the ten disitricts with the highest populations of white residents.


"Have you no shame?" he said.


Gianiaris ended his remarks on the floor by referring to the final set of maps, which Cuomo said had shown "progress" toward fairness from the legislature's initial draft.


"As far as I'm concerned," he said, "you can take the second plan and put it together with the first plan and shove it."


Read the full article here.