Redistricting: How Lawmakers Can Stay Within the Lines
Gerrymandering. It can get Texas lawmakers - some of the proudest people on earth-running for shelter in Oklahoma and New Mexico.
Quick recap: Redistricting for city, state and federal districts is required by the U.S. constitution after each census. Instead of creating districts of neighborhoods (redistricting), the process usually just results in keeping safe seats for incumbents (gerrymandering).
In Texas, the gerrymandering chaos was set in motion (as were the lawmakers) once one party controlled both houses and the governor's mansion. Next year, that could happen here. The governor's seat here could go to Democrats who already control the Assembly. They are a few seats shy of grabbing the Senate. If and when they get the sweep, look out.
U.S. Rep Joseph Crowley (D-Bronx/Queens) wants payback for what happened in Texas. "I understand when you hit me in the face, I can do one of two things: I can cower, or I can defend myself or maybe even get a pop back in on ya. I'm more likely to stand my ground and get a pop back in on ya and I think that's what we have to do as a party."
Revenge may be sweet, but is it's usually not good policy. Fortunately, other plans - which include less" pop back in on ya" qualities,and more independence, have been proposed. Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Queens) wants an 11-member panel to redraw districts. Senator Eric Schneiderman (D-Manhattan) wants a similar panel, but with only five members.
In both plans, majority and minority leaders in both houses would select members to both panels. The panelists would then select additional members, one of whom would be chairman.
Currently, a not-so independent group draws some not-so independent districts. Districts drawn by the new panel would be required to have similar sizes, shape and levels of diversity as the average district in the state. In other words, no cherry picking and Picasso drawings.
Democrat Eliot Spitzer, the front-runner for governor (so far) said he likes that kind of idea. Hopefully lawmakers in Albany like the idea of reform better than revenge.