Archive for the tag 'redistricting'

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Councilman Chaim Deutsch during his victory in the primary elections.

This season, newly elected City Councilman Chaim Deutsch will be doing more than moving into City Hall. Redistricting left his home just outside of the district, and city law requires him to move within the boundaries of the community he represents.

Prior to the November 5 general election, he moved out of his Midwood two-story home on 2714 Avenue I and into a two-bedroom apartment 12 blocks away on 1656 East 19th Street, but, according to a Daily News article, his wife and four youngest kids have stayed behind in the original home. The paper reports:

Last year, the Redistricting Council chopped a major section of primarily Jewish voters in Midwood out of the district while at the same time adding the heavily Russian-speaking area of Luna Park, Trump Village and Bright Water Towers into the district.

That district was gerrymandered in an effort to elect a Russian representative to the City Council, political analysts said.

But Deutsch, an Orthodox Jew, proved to be widely popular in the district and handily defeated three Russian candidates during a bruising election cycle.

At least one unnamed source, though, says Deutsch is gaming the system, and has not moved into the apartment – an allegation the city says is unfounded.

But critics charge that 2714 Ave. I remains his primary residence—noting he was seen lighting a menorah at the two-story, three-bedroom home.

Deutsch insisted that he lit a menorah at both dwellings on Chanukah but only said the blessing at his apartment, as per Jewish law.

Council lawyers have investigated and approved his residency status.

Deutsch, a Democrat, won the race for a seat on the New York City Council for the 48th District back in November. He bested Republican David Storobin and Working Families’ Igor Oberman.

The current and proposed lines for the 48th District of the City Council. The process has sparked controversy, as Russian-Americans gain influence under the new lines, and Orthodox Jews appear to lose influence.

Our open thread yesterday kicked off with a look at the redistricting process, which seems to be pitting local Russian-Americans against local Orthodox Jews for influence in the 48th Councilmanic District, currently represented by Michael Nelson. We very briefly reflected, with a dose of sarcasm, about the role race, ethnicity and religion plays in the process. That post elicited the following e-mail from Councilman Lew Fidler, who represents the neighboring 46th District:

Photo by Erica Sherman

Race and ethnicity, though not religion, are an integral part of redistricting, like it or not. In fact, federal law makes it so.

Kings County is a jurisdiction covered by the Federal Voting Rights Act. Redistricters are compelled to ensure that protected classes of minority voters – such classes are specified in the statute – do not lose maximal representation when district lines are drawn. (We are a Voting Rights County based upon discriminatory voting patterns from long, long ago.)

Southern Brooklyn has been ripped apart in both council redistricting (by the commission) and congressional redistricting (by the federal court) in large part due to the Voting Rights Act as applied to the unique demographics of Brooklyn.

There is no venal intent here… let me explain.

Central Brooklyn, which is the hub of minority (“Voting Rights”) districts, has shrunk in relative population. In order to maintain these districts as minority districts under the law, the non-minority population must be manipulated and integrated into minority districts; not so much as to shift the numbers to make the district non-minority, but enough to get the district up to a full population. Naturally, it is those neighborhoods with non-minority populations that are adjacent to the minority districts that get dragged into them.

For example, that is why the 45th District currently represented by Jumaane Williams, short on minority population, reached south into the non-minority neighborhoods of Flatbush/Midwood for its additional population. In fact, this does do violence to the neighborhood integrity of that community, and for these voters, it is grossly unfair.

But, to be clear, it is not because the redistricting commission had a conscious plan to “screw” Flatbush or any particular religious community. They are straining to find a way to comply with the Voting Rights Act.

A Federal Court Master drew the congressional lines. The same mechanics resulted in Flatbush and Sheepshead Bay being drawn as vestigial parts into the district “represented” by Congresswoman Yvette Clarke.

Similarly with those south of us and in Howard Beach, who were drawn into Congressman Hakeem Jeffries’ district.

My view is that the Voting Rights Act needs to be reformed to reflect modern realities while maintaining its protections against discriminatory practices. There needs to be greater flexibility when a constituency recedes as part of the relative population of a county. For the first time that I am aware of since Kings County became a Voting Rights county, some communities (think Fort Greene) are going from being minority communities to non-minority communities. The law needs to be able to reflect those challenges.

The local argument that Ned has reported on is in fact caused by the application of the Voting Rights Act. Therefore, ethnicity will inevitably and inextricably be a part of the conversation for better or for worse.

- Lew from Brooklyn

P.S. - Of course, Southern Brooklyn was also brutalized by the State Senate lines. That victimization had nothing whatsoever to do with the Voting Rights Act. That was pure political partisan greed on the part of the State Senate Republicans, who carved up our neighborhoods in the most venal redistricting plan most of us have ever seen since the days of Elbridge Gerry.

City Council analyst John Lisyanskiy officially threw his hat in the ring for Coney Island’s 47th District on December 16 with an e-mail blast to supporters, making him one of two candidates for the district to forego the political hand-wringing over redistricting and jump in the race. Meanwhile, others in what was expected to be a somewhat crowded field for the Democratic nod, are reconsidering their runs – and almost all are urging constituents to turn out to tomorrow’s Districting Committee hearing to oppose the plan.

Lisyanskiy is one of four Democratic contenders vying to replace term-limited Domenic Recchia that have registered committees with the Campaign Finance Board. Lisyanskiy is joined by activist Todd DobrinMichael Treybich, an attorney and deputy legal director for the New York State Young Democrats; and Brian Gotlieb, former chairman of Community Board 13.

Lisyanskiy, who serves as a legislative budget aide in the City Council under Speaker Christine Quinn, jumps in the race with tens of thousands of dollars collected for a 2009 run that ultimately fizzled after term limits were extended. The campaign’s announcement came weeks before the council’s district lines are set to be finalized, a process which could see a campaign’s key constituencies flung into a neighboring district.

But Lisyanskiy said the latest district lines were of little concern in determining whether or not to run.

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Colin Beavan, Green Party candidate (Source: ColinBeavan.com)

If you live in our coverage area, chances are you didn’t have reason to know much about Congressman Edolphus Towns until recently. After all, for the last 29 years the Democrat has represented Bed-Stuy, Canarsie and Brownsville – neighborhoods that have little in common with our own.

But, thanks to this year’s Congressional redistricting, Towns’ district sprouts southwest, pulling the communities of Marine Park, Plumb Beach, Manhattan Beach and Brighton Beach into a 71 percent black and Hispanic district.

Now Towns is stepping down, and the race to replace him is heating up. Vying for the Democratic ticket are City Councilman Charles Barron, a controversial figure citywide with a strong following in his East New York, Brownsville, East Flatbush, and Canarsie base, and Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, who has won the endorsement of many of our local elected.

But no Congressional race would be complete without a couple of long-shot candidates. Enter Alan Bellone and Colin Beavan.

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News broke this morning that a seat in the United States Congress is no longer enough for newly-minted politician Bob Turner – he’s now got his eyes set on the United States Senate.

Daily News’ Daily Politics blog broke the story this morning that Turner is planning a challenge against New York’s junior senator, Kirsten Gillibrand.

The blog posted the following e-mail from Turner’s team:

I will travel to the Republican State Convention in Rochester later this week and humbly ask for the Republican nomination for the United States Senate. I will respectfully ask for the Conservative nomination a few days later at that Party’s convention. I have made my intentions known to the other Republican candidates in this race.

I ran for the House six months ago as a private citizen fed up with what is happening in Washington.  I could not sit and watch career politicians sink my nation deeper into economic crisis.  Brooklyn and Queens voters, of all political parties, graciously responded by sending me to Congress. It now appears that their district has been eliminated.

There is serious work to be done to get this economy back on track, and I will not walk away from that work now. I will run for the Senate, and I will run to win.

Turner, of course, is likely spurred on by the redistricting process, which would see his current seat eliminated. As Daily Politics points out, as recently as last week Turner was saying he’d run in whatever district he happened to live in when the final lines are adopted. But with the lines in the hands of a federal magistrate, Turner’s home would be in the heavily Democratic and African-American district of Congressman Gregory Meeks – making Republican victory unlikely.

The current State Senate district lines in Southern Brooklyn, showing District 27 (former Senator Kruger's district) and District 22 (Golden's). It is known as one of the worst examples of gerrymandering in New York State. The latest proposal is no better.

Looking at political district maps for Brooklyn and the city, you might think you’re gazing at an elaborate jigsaw puzzle. Yet, the process seems to get more complicated, not to mention inequitable, when the lines are redrawn every 10 years.

Nevertheless, the best laid district lines of Democrats or Republicans usually don’t count much towards a representative democracy, but rather for the ruling political party.

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Bob Turner

With New York State set to lose two of its 29 congressional seats in the House of Representatives, the Democrats hope a Republican’s seat isn’t one of them.

Democrats are hoping that Bob Turner’s seat isn’t on the chopping block because they strongly feel that they can win it back.

“I believe it’s a Democratic seat and would be won by a Democrat,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver told the New York Daily News.

Despite Turner’s upset victory in the race to replace Anthony Weiner last year, and the ensuing media reports that claimed it as evidence that area was becoming increasingly conservative, the party believes that the congressional district remains staunchly blue. They also think Turner remains a vulnerable candidate.

Those claims are backed up by Turner’s own weak fundraising efforts. As the New York Observer’s Politicker blog noted, the congressman’s financial performance has been lackluster:

Recently elected GOP Congressman Bob Turner reported a relatively modest campaign haul today, showing just $76,000 raised with $71,000 cash on hand since the last reporting period. This is not an especially large pot of money to to proceed forward in what could be a tough reelection environment for him. For comparison, New York City’s other Republican Congressman, Michael Grimm, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars this cycle and has over a million dollars in the bank.

Other Democrats are also pushing to end the narrative that the area is becoming a Republican enclave.

“This election is going to make a big difference. This is where we draw the line in the sand. This is where we break up the firewall,” said City Councilman Lew Fidler during a meeting of the Brooklyn Young Democrats at Wheeler’s (1707 Sheepshead Bay Road). The councilman noted that any further Republican victories in the area would encourage the party to focus more on ousting other local Democrats, sparking a red wave throughout the borough. “They are not going to turn Brooklyn red,” he said.

The current political boundaries of Kruger's and Golden's districts. Kruger was key in implementing them. Now he supports legislation to make sure pols like him can't do this anymore.

It seems that State Senator Carl Kruger, who faces a long, hard legal slog as he battles corruption charges, has found his conscience – and is beginning to vote it.

The local pol most recently made political observers balk last week, when he called for the creation of an independent redistricting commission in a new newsletter to his constituents, according to the Daily News.

“He’ll make a strong case for an independent redistricting commission to correct population shifts that shortchange New York City in favor of upstate communities,” the newsletter says.

But Kruger is one of the state’s worst offenders when it comes to dubious redistricting. Why the turnaround?

The district boundaries for the State Senate seats occupied by Carl Kruger and Marty Golden. Doesn't it look a little unnatural to you?

Redistricting of political boundaries occurs every 10 years – following the results of the U.S. Census – but it’s usually off the radar of most members of the community. This year, redistricting got a bit of a higher profile when Congressman Anthony Weiner resigned, leading to the now oft-spoken narrative that the winner of his seat is of minimal importance, as the most junior New York representative in federal politics will likely lose his job to redrawn lines and the elimination of a seat.

Well, that’s our seat they’re talking about, and redistricting stands to have profound implications on the way residents of Sheepshead Bay are represented.

Keep reading and find out how to make your voice heard.