Tag Archive: redistricting

Feb 05 2013

Halloran Cheers Redistricting Proposal

Dan HalloranIt won’t be long before the NYC Council will have to vote on a new set of district lines in which Councilman Dan Halloran applauds yet still has some reservations.

“This plan is not perfect,” Halloran said. “There are still low-density homes in North Flushing that are not in the 19th District. We may have lost some small battles, but we won the bigger war, and our communities are better for it. I thank the Commission for listening to the people, as well as Council Members Koo and Weprin for advocating effective representation in our districts.”

The Commission’s latest proposal includes the remaining few blocks of Whitestone into District 19, as well as most of North Flushing and Auburndale.

If finalized, the proposal will give Dan Halloran a leg up in his bid for reelection as the Broadway-Flushing section is long known to be a strong pocket of GOP solidarity.

“Additionally, the proposal reunites Mitchell Linden in the 20th District, where it has historically been, and ends the division of Bayside Hills between the 19th and 23rd Council Districts,” according to the press release.

The Districting Commission will vote on Wednesday evening (Feb. 6th) whether or not to send these maps to the Council for final approval. If approved, the maps will take effect for the upcoming City elections in November.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2013/02/halloran-cheers-redistricting-proposal/

Oct 29 2012

THE MAN WITH THE “CAMPAIGN MIND”

The 3rd Congressional District was reapportioned with sections of northeast Queens, a part of town where U.S Rep. Steve Israel needed to build name recognition.

The redistricting of 2012 opened the door for New York Congressman Steve Israel to step into the political consciousness of northeast Queens, but despite conventional wisdom his national job as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) wasn’t enough to raise his name recognition, it was a strong grassroots campaign initiative which helped ensure victory on Election Day.

He didn’t grow up in Queens, but he spent every Sunday here with his grandparents and his dad in the shadow of Shea Stadium, dreaming of someday playing centerfield for the New York Mets.

Being new to the area, over the summer his campaign team launched a concentrated effort to raise name recognition in Queens. Virtually overnight, campaign signs peppered the neighborhood, bumper stickers were given out, and soon civic groups and political organizations met members of his campaign team.

Israel’s iconic green and blue “Steve Israel t-shirt” became ubiquitous throughout the new parts of New York’s fifth CD running from the tip of Whitestone and as far South as Glen Oaks.  But some questions remain, who is Steve Israel, what does he stand for, and what will he do for Queens?

Steve grew up in Long Island, deep in Nassau County in Dix Hills, so naturally the question arises, does Israel know what he is getting into with us Queens folk? We don’t know for sure, yet, but what we do know is that Israel hit the campaign trail with style and it’s been hard to ignore.

To put his ear to the beat of the neighborhood, Steve began visiting the Democratic clubs, including the Clinton Democratic Club, where he was welcomed with much fanfare. Upon meeting Israel, the club’s president, Paul Vallone, concluded, “He’s an exemplary leader for New York.”

Israel made further rounds at the FDR Democratic Club, and then with a plethora of civic groups and senior centers all the while meeting one on one with community leaders. Last week Israel was greeting voters at Waldbaum’s in Bay Terrace.

Who is he, where does he stand? Steve Israel has a strong progressive record. “Steve Israel is a champion of progressive values in the United States Congress and has done an excellent job to restore the Democratic Majority in the house,” according to Steve Behar, a community advocate for northeast Queens and a national figure in progressive politics.

The eastern edge of Queens now in NY3 (in blue) includes Bay Terrace, parts of Bayside, Beechhurst, Little Neck, Douglaston, Glen Oaks, Bellaire, and Floral Park. Map from CUNY Center For Urban Research.

But with a fickle constituency like in northeast Queens – a place where large pockets of voters register as Democrats but tend to lean Republican – Israel will have to remain cordial and open to a sense of pragmatism to transcend these differences and win the hearts of this odd mix.

So far he’s off to a great start. “I don’t care if they’re Dems or Republicans – for me before I was taught to be a Democrat, I was taught to be a Mets fan,” joked Israel – a sound bite that will bode well with voters in northeast Queens.

The political world might see Rep. Israel as the chairman of the powerful DCCC, but first and foremost comes the needs of his constituency. “My primary job is to be the representative and my part-time job is to try and take the majority,” said Israel. His statement expressed the dichotomy of his role as both a member of Congress to provide services for the new constituency and as DCCC Chair to help elect Democrats across the nation, however the line between the two can sometimes be blurry. During the interview he emphasized that the needs of the district will be his primary objective but in regards to strategy to retake the majority (which he believes will also serve not only the district, but the entire country) Israel said it’s very straightforward. It’s mostly raising awareness. “We want to remind people under the Republican majority a budget was passed that ends Medicare in order to fund tax cuts for millionaires…the Republican majority for 24 months has been trying to shut down Planned Parenthood instead of trying to open up small businesses.”

He continued, “big corporations that want to outsource jobs to China and receive tax breaks when instead we should be making it easier for middle class families to afford college in New York.” Israel believes we should expand student assistance programs, including amending the tax code. “Middle class families should be able to write off a big part of their college investments. That is a much better investment to growing an economy than letting a giant corporation write off the cost of opening up a plant in China,” the influential Dem said.

The Congressman’s voting record is as liberal progressive as his talking point. On abortion he is pro-choice (NARAL gave him a 100 rating) and he supported same-sex marriage in 2010. Year after year he receives an ‘F’ from the National Rifle Association for his position on gun rights. On the economy, Israel believes in reducing defense spending and increasing income tax brackets in order to balance the budget. In the past he has advocated for federal spending as a means of promoting economic growth and he believes in providing tax incentives to businesses for the purpose of job creation.

In 2007 Israel voted YES on regulating the subprime mortgage industry. In 2009, he voted yes for senate pay raises and in 2006 a no for requiring photo-IDs for federal elections. Israel is against privatization of social security into personal spending accounts and he staunchly defends the Affordable Care Act, or what even President Obama now calls Obamacare.

Ethics reform is also a major part of his platform. I spoke candidly to him about lobbyists in their dual role as campaign managers, funneling clients and money back and forth, and the need for regulation, he raised the ethical dilemmas of Super PACs.  “I have heard plenty of concerns about ethics with respect to elected officials but I have not heard the issue of whether campaign managers should be regulated. I will say that I think this country is in need of fundamental campaign finance reform. You know have these super PACs sanctioned by the Supreme Court that can spend anything, spend any amount, not have to disclose who they are, and they’re funded by special interests who are trying to steal elections. We ought to ban them.”

In his latest initiative Israel introduced legislation to reform the electoral college which would in effect make campaigns more competitive as well as advocating for weekend voting to increase turnout in federal elections.

As chairman of the DCCC, Israel oversees a sophisticated propaganda outfit. He can dump a fortune into your campaign war chest and optimize the use of media to sway the hearts and minds of the electorate. For example last August, ahead of the House vote to repeal Obamacare, the DCCC went on the offensive with their “Drive for 25″ campaign which targeted vulnerable GOP lawmakers on healthcare ahead of the House vote.

The initiative included television ads, online videos and robo-calls, however, despite the DCCC’s best efforts, the plan was ineffective as the Republican controlled House repealed all or parts of the Affordable Care Act more than 33 times. The ads ranged from the awe-inspiring (Check out “Health Care Victory”) to the whimsical (See The Millionaires video regarding Bobby Shilling).

While the leadership position comes with such privileges as helping fellow Dems get elected, it has also cast Israel as a national target for Republicans and the far right. Recent attacks include a NY Post story that suggested Israel’s support of the TARP program is the reason he was granted a ‘bailout’ for his home in Dix Hills. State GOP Chairman Ed Cox didn’t waste any time urging an investigation by the House Ethics Committee. “The Congressman has taken advantage of his position to qualify for a debt reduction that is supposed to be reserved for hard-working families that are experiencing a financial set back,” said Cox, adding, “It is not for a congressman that wants to avoid his obligations and a personal financial loss.”

Israel said he wasn’t fazed by the scurrilous accusations. “It’s politics as usual that Republicans, who are trying to end Medicare, would find phony issues to raise against me,” he said. “It’s unfortunate when you’re one of the national leaders trying to stop Republicans from ending Medicare to fund tax cuts for millionaires, then you should expect to be a target of their attacks – it doesn’t surprise me.”

There are plenty of battles for Steve Israel to fight for in this part of Queens, but for now the Congressman from Long Island is busy building bridges on both sides of the aisle to focus on issues challenging middle class families. “Whether you’re living in Wyandach or Whitestone it’s about strengthening the economic recovery and protecting Medicare for Seniors, and stabilizing taxes.”

Visiting Queens is something he has done for his entire life, so naturally we wanted to know his favorite deli. Cherry Valley? Chrisite’s? No, the Congressman’s favorite deli is Ben’s Kosher in Bay Terrace. He told me a story about how he how he competed in a New York deli fundraiser competition in Washington – an annual tradition in it’s 30th year run by Congressman Gary Ackerman where competitors would invite the best deli to the Hill and present a full spread to Congressman Ackerman to judge the winner.  Israel chose Ben’s Deli and his competition, U.S Rep. Jerry Nadler, chose Liebman’s Deli of Brooklyn. Each won in respective categories.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/10/steve-israel-dccc-chair-congressman/

Jul 31 2012

J.D Kim Campaign Documents Appear to Encourage Illegal Petitions

Queens Politics is calling on the Attorney General to investigate the matter.

Recently obtained documents from the Jung Dong Kim campaign for Senate District 16 indicate unlawful activity regarding the collecting of Designating Petitions.

According to the Board of Elections, the first day to circulate Designating Petitions was Tuesday, June 5th. However, the campaign document instructs petition collectors to begin BEFORE the legally required starting date and extend petition collecting past the last day to file, July 12th.

If this is any indication as to how that campaign is being run, I’m wondering what other type of unlawful and unethical practices have been occurring here.

More on this to follow.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/07/j-d-kim-documents-encourage-illegal-petitions-july12/

Mar 01 2012

CD Maps Are Finally Here

State Senate Republicans release their Congressional maps onto the world.

Respect to Colin Cambell who was up at Midnight to break the news,

Because these maps are independent of the Democrat-controlled State Assembly, they have limited value and aren’t necessarily indicative of where any compromise map would be resolved. Additionally, overly partisan maps are of limited value to the courts as they consider their many proposed options.

UPDATE 12:35am: State Assemblyman Rory Lancman, a NY9 Congressional hopeful had this to say on his Facebook,

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Email us your thoughts.

Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/03/cd-maps-are-finally-here/

Feb 10 2012

Congressman Will Run No Matter What Happens

By Christina Santucci

I’ve been reelected 15 times, and I’ve been counting. Your grand kids will see me on the ballot too.  Booya. Photo from Times Ledger.

Ackerman says nothing that can happen with the lines will stop him from running again, predicts growth of NY5 in Queens.

From Times Ledger: U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) said he believes that when the state legislative task force on reapportionment releases its congressional district maps, his will contain more of Queens while the district held by his newest colleague, Rep. Bob Turner (R-Middle Village), may be eliminated.

“No matter how they draw it, I’m going to run in the district,” the 15-term congressman said during a meeting with reporters and editors of the TimesLedger Newspapers two weeks ago. “I suspect it will have more of Queens.”

Currently, Ackerman’s 5th District stretches from Corona in the west into Nassau County in the east, and from Jamaica Estates in the south up into the waters of Long Island Sound.

According to the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment, each congressional district will grow by about 60,000 people, and due to a slow rate of population growth relative to other states, New York will lose two congressional seats. It has been widely speculated that one of those seats will come from New York City.

“In the end, what has to happen is the Democrats have to say, ‘We’re willing to give up this seat,’ and the Republicans have to name the seat that they’re willing to give up,” Ackerman said.

For full article: http://www.timesledger.com/stories/2012/6/ackermanconversation_all_2012_02_09_q.html

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/02/congressman-will-run-no-matter-what-happens/

Feb 08 2012

Revenge Of The Siths

They got me! Ok, ok but let's move forward.

Just when you think the Senate lines were gerrymandered, take a look at the funky Assembly lines and you’ll see another baby alien popping out of a stomach.

Vince Tabone, the Executive Vice Chair of The Queens County Republican Party ran for Assembly against Ed Braunstein in 2010 and lost, but the defeat wasn’t enough for the Democrats in charge of the Assembly LATFOR process. Vince Tabone has become a victim of political gerrymandering.

Tabone, a Bayside resident, lives with his family in a quaint home on 215th St, a sleepy tree-lined road with longtime residents.  If the new lines become official, one side of 216th St. will be in the 26th A.D, where, coincidentally, Tabone ran for Assembly, and the other side will be designated in Rory Lancman’s 25th A.D.

 

Tabone's house pictured here with current Assembly lines in District 26.

Guess which side of the street Tabone’s residence could be located?  It just so happens that his house is proposed for inclusion in the 25th A.D.

Tabone was not shocked at the proposed redistricting. “I looked at it and I wished I could say I was surprised, but after being in politics awhile you get a little cynical,” he said.

Tabone was redistricted from the ED’s where he did extremely well, but instead of crying foul he looks at the results of LATFOR as more of a wakeup call for civic-minded citizens. “It’s disappointing the people don’t have as much of a choice as they think they do,” said Tabone, adding, “The [Assembly] lines look as contorted as it did before, there’s only a minor change and in my case they cut me out of the district.”

This is Tabone's home under the proposed lines. His side of the street is in the 25th A.D.

Tabone was asked what was the lesson learned and he replied rhetorically, ”The people, they don’t realize how things are done. But what are you going to do? What’s my recourse to sue or appeal to Shelly Silver?”

Technically Tabone could rent an apartment in the 26th A.D and still run (to avoid carpet bagging charges), stay put and run this cycle, or if Rory Lancman takes out Turner there is a possibility to field a viable Republican candidate for the 25th A.D. But another run for Tabone seems unlikely. The road to Albany is cold and lonely and generally not an ideal job for a family man, especially for Tabone who hopes to continue his mission of supporting and developing the Queens County Republican Club.

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Maps are from CUNY: The Center for Urban Research

Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/02/revenge-of-the-siths/

Feb 08 2012

It Looks Pretty ‘Asian’

Queens-Politics received an email from the Astoria GOP regarding our post of the map with regards to the newly created ‘Asian’ Majority District.

The kind reader answered our call to draw the district onto the map - and just like the email says – after completing the map overlay, “It looks pretty Asian,” particularly on the western edge of SD16 with a high concentration of green dots.

You decide.

Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/02/it-looks-pretty-asian/

Jan 31 2012

Block Association Says NO to New Lines

Seriously?

An ode to the gerrymander.

A civic group is voicing strong opposition  to proposed redistricting maps that would split the neighborhood of Woodhaven between three state Senators.

Is there anyone happy with their lines? Of course. Just not the good government folks.

Press Release: The Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR), the body charged with redrawing district lines, released its proposed maps last week.  The Block Association applauds LATFOR’s decision to keep all of Woodhaven within a single Assembly district — as it has been for the past decade — but strongly urges the Task Force to reconsider its Senate boundaries.

“LATFOR’s decision to split up a one-square-mile neighborhood among three different senators is bewildering and has no basis in the character, demographics, or needs of our community,” said Alexander Blenkinsopp, the Block Association’s communications director.  ”When it comes to the Senate lines, the people of Woodhaven are being treated as pawns in Albany’s gerrymandering games.”

Two of the three districts that encompass parts of Woodhaven have been referred to as among “the 20 ugliest gerrymandered districts.”  Queens Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. described one of those districts as “something that looks like a baby alien popping out of a stomach.”

The division of Woodhaven under the proposed plan is illustrated in the attached map.  The lines are not only unsightly and convoluted, but they will also hurt Woodhaven’s representation.  Some Woodhaven residents will be in the same district as Astoria — clear across the borough.  Other Woodhaven residents will be in a district that stretches all the way out to Green Acres Mall in Nassau County.

“Woodhaven is a cohesive community with a clear identity.  That’s why we’re pleased LATFOR drew an Assembly district that includes all of our neighborhood,” said WRBA Director Vance Barbour.  ”But the proposed Senate lines will dilute Woodhaven’s voice in the upper chamber of New York’s legislature and make it more difficult for fellow residents to know who’s representing them.  Our neighborhood would become an orphan to three different senators, rather than a priority to one of them.”

LATFOR will hold a public hearing for Queens on Tuesday, February 7, at 3 p.m., in Room 213 of Queens Borough Hall (120-55 Queens Blvd., Kew Gardens).  The WRBA hopes to testify at this hearing.

The proposed maps for the entire districts that would include Woodhaven can be viewed herehere, and here.

Contact:
WRBA office: (718) 296-3735

Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/01/block-association-says-no-to-new-gerrymandered-lines/

Jan 07 2012

Lancman Vs. Turner: Depends On The Rejigger

 

Lancman has the gleaming eye for higher office somewhere in Queens. He'll have plenty of support as well.

The Empire: Assemblyman Rory Lancman wanted a shot at the 9th Congressional District during the special election back in September. Since the man Queens party boss Congressman Joe Crowley picked for the seat, Assemblyman David Weprin, lost to Republican Bob Turner, Assemblyman Lancman has kept up a steady stream of criticism of the new congressman, potentially portending a run against him next year.

Today’s critique is over Congressman Turner’s position on gun control (something the city takes very seriously).Or, I suppose, lack there of: Turner, according to the Queens Chronicle, won’t take a position on a bill to strengthen gun background checks.

“Congressman Bob Turner’s troubling position on guns leaves Queens families and New York’s finest vulnerable,” Lancman said in a statement. “It’s extremely unsettling that someone who represents me and my community would put our safety at risk to satisfy the gun lobby.”

Lancman went on to tout his own record on gun control as an Assemblyman, which earned him an “A” from New Yorkers Against Gun Violence and an “F” from the National Rifle Association.

While Lancman almost certainly has strong philosophical differences with Turner, and vice versa, whether or not he’ll be able to turn those into campaign fodder will depend entirely on how the Congressional lines are drawn in redistricting.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/01/lancman-vs-turner-depends-on-the-rejigger/

Jan 06 2012

Senate Plans Include A New GOP District

  • Senate officials proclaim a new plan to create a Republican Congressional Seat.
  • QP predicts that the new district will be somewhere in northeast Queens.

Celeste Katz: State Senate Republicans have decided that bigger is better: Senate officials, in a memo posted on the Legislature’s redistricting website late Friday afternoon, confirmed plans to add another seat to the 62-member chamber, arguing the state Constitution mandates such a move.

Our Glenn Blain reports:

“The memo speaks for itself,” said Scott Reif, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Nassau County).

The memo was written by Senate GOP lawyer Michael Carvin and argued that the methodology used uring the 2002 reapportionment, when applied to he current population, calls for the addition of a new seat.

“I continue to believe that this methodology is the most faithful to the Constitution,” Carvin wrote. “I note that if the 2002 methodology is again employed, the size of the New York State Senate will be increased to 63 senators.”

Reif said no decisions have been made about the location of a new district. Final maps for new Senate districts will be available by the end of the month, he added.

The Daily News first reported in September that Senate Republicans were mulling the addition of a new seat. At the time, Reif dismissed the report as “pure speculation.”

Democrats and good government groups have slammed the Republicans, saying there’s no legal justification for adding a new seat and the move was likely fueled by politics.

“As the calculations have been done for us, any way we look at it, it comes to 62,” said Susan Lerner of Common Cause, N.Y. “They don’t get to just decide to have 63.”

The Senate’s move is all-but certain to spark a court battle and could draw fire from Gov. Cuomo, who in his State of the State address Wednesday promised to veto any lines not created through “an independent redistricting process.”

Insiders note that adding a 63rd seat in the state Senate could make it easier for the GOP to retain their razor-thin majority in the upcoming elections and avoid any legislative chaos by ensuring one party would be in the majority – as opposed to now, with an even number of seats.

State lawmakers are redrawing their districts – and congressional districts – as part of a census-mandated rejiggering.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/01/senate-plans-include-a-new-gop-district/

Dec 16 2011

Friedrich Demands LATFOR Listen To Community Redistricting Proposal

Let's do it my way.

Times Ledger: This time around civic leaders in eastern Queens are saying they have learned the lessons from past battles and are planning to make their message loud and clear: The neighborhoods of Glen Oaks, Floral Park, New Hyde Park, Bellerose and Queens Village should be joined in one state Assembly district.

“We must make sure that our communities are not divided for political purposes,” Glen Oaks Village President Bob Friedrich wrote in a statement. “This issue is not about endorsing any candidate or political party.”

“Our objective is to make sure that whoever is elected to represent our community understands that our concerns are backed up by tens of thousands of voters,” he wrote. “We will not accept district lines that slice and dice us as if we are on some legislative committee’s chopping block.”

City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens), whose district represents the entire area, used to hold the 24th District Assembly seat. He said he agrees the state should focus on trying to unify communities.

“It keeps neighborhoods strong and united. I’m glad local people are trying to get that done in Queens,” he said.

Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2011/12/friedrich-thinks-latfor-will-listen-to-redistricting-proposal/

Dec 06 2011

Congressional Candidate Endorses NAACP Redistricting Proposal

Say it ain't so, Mike.

Mike Scala is running for Congress in NY-6, and he wants the new district lines drawn to be reflective of ethnic populations.

In his press release Scala quotes, “In order to maintain the district’s black majority, the new map would extend the eastern border into western Nassau County… Let me stop you right there Mike. Queens-Politics does not support a redistricting system based on ethnic division. The NAACP and many other other advocacy organizations like the Asian American Legal Defense continually push for district lines to be drawn to maximize the electability of a candidate from a select ethnic background, but this is an inherently problematic endeavor.

While it’s critically important to have a parity in Congressional politics, changing the lines to be reflective of anything other than geography is not the right thing to do because it dilutes the electoral process.

While the process is far from perfect, the idea of drawing lines to be inclusive of some and exclusive to others is not democracy. It’s calling our voters vacuous and presuming that the issues don’t matter and they will vote based solely on skin color or religion, which is the dumbest thing I have ever heard considering the electoral results of the past four years.

The press release goes on: “The northern and western boundaries of the district would also be modified.  NAACP State President Hazel Dukes stated that the proposal would help “preserve New York’s black congressional districts and black New Yorkers’ voting rights.”

So you want to gerrymander the district, again? It’s still gerrymandering even if a renowned advocacy organization introduces the proposal.

In a perfect world, the best candidate should win on the issues not because of their sexual identification, religion, or ethnicity. 

In Reynolds V. Sims Chief Justice Earl Warren said, “Legislators represent people, not trees or acres. Legislators are elected by voters, not farms or cities or economic interests.” This means it’s one person, one vote.

When a lack of quality candidates exists are the district lines to be blamed?

The NAACP’s redistricting plan attempts to establish a political advantage for their group. This is an admirable cause,  but their plan will inevitably protect incumbents and will eliminate the chance for competition, or at  the very least it will stifle the competition based on factors other than policy positions.

Are the districts gerrymandered as is? Probably, but how will another gerrymandered district fix anything?

Geography is the key to fair redistricting, so is competition.

Advocating the development of a potential tyranny of the majority in every district is not in the voters best interest. It bears a striking resemblance to racial steering whereby real estate agents define neighborhood boundaries and limit housing opportunities for select ethnic groups.

This is an illegal and unethical methodology, but it’s still common practice. Does that mean it should continue?

If defining an area by excluding one group over the other in real estate practice is illegal, why on Earth would we condone the practice in the polis?

That’s politics for you.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2011/12/congressional-candidate-endorses-naacp-redistricting-proposal/

Nov 15 2011

Independent Redistricting is Dead says Avella

Tony Avella fights valiantly for independent redistricting. The title of this article, first line in paragraph, sums it all up. On redistricting, I’m not so sure Queens will annex a part of the Bronx or Nassau County, but then again it’s all just a bunch of speculation as far as I’m concerned. Party bosses would have a canary. Be that as it may,  I never doubted Tony, but I knew completely independent redistricting was a no-go. It’s asking Shelly Silver to give up most of his power.

From Capital NYAvella, speaker of inconvenient opinions fears Cuomo will back down and ‘independent redistricting is dead.’ Despite assurances from Governor Andrew Cuomo, State Senator Tony Avella is afraid that New York’s decennial, party-controlled redistricting process will not be reformed in time for next year’s elections.

“In my opinion, independent redistricting is dead,” said Avella, a freshman Democrat from Queens, during a panel discussion in Manhattan this weekend hosted by the Alliance of South Asian American Labor. “There just isn’t time to do it.”

Cuomo has pledged as part of his broader Albany-reform agenda to wrest the power to redraw legislative- and congressional-district lines from legislative leaders in Albany, who currently exercise control of the process through a redistricting task force whose members they appoint. The governor proposed legislation to establish an independent body to undertake redistricting, but it was blocked by the Republican majority in the State Senate, whose 32-30 majority is enabled by lines that were drawn a decade ago to favor G.O.P. incumbents. (The lines in the Assembly, which is controlled by Democrats, were drawn to favor Democrats.)

Cuomo has repeatedly promised that he would veto whatever lines the task force comes up with, likely triggering court involvement in the process to ensure that new lines are organized in time for the 2012 primary in New York, even as he warned that such a move would cause chaos

For Full Article: http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/culture/2011/11/4138655/avella-speaker-inconvenient-opinions-fears-cuomo-will-back-down-and-

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2011/11/redistricting-is-dead-says-avella/

Oct 02 2011

Batter Up: Who Will Challenge Avella In ’12?

Go ahead, take a swing, says incumbent State Senator Tony Avella (D-Bayside).

Four possible candidates show the ambition it takes to make a run for Tony Avella’s 11th Senate District in northeast Queens. Who are they?

While no candidate from the GOP has come forward and declared an official run, the 2012 election is right around the corner, and members of the Queens Republican Party have already been asking themselves, am I ready for a face- off with Democrat Tony Avella for the 11th Senatorial District?

Here are a few bets (a primary notwithstanding) for those GOP’ers circling the wagons:

 

1. City Council Member Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone)

Odds of running against Avella = 3 to 1

Dan has excellent name recognition in the community. He’s at all the meetings, almost omnipotent. Beside being the #1 target of the Queens Democratic Machine, Dan is a good representative. His experience with city government plus the professional networks he’s created will help push him over the hill. Dan is also very popular around the neighborhood, even though Dems enjoy a significant enrollment in terms of party registration (93,820 Dems vs. 32,018 GOP). If recent events have taught us anything, party solidarity is beginning to mean less as time goes on, but I digress…

Average folk tend to look past his Libertarian leanings, and his office staff is excellent, fast, and responsive. Dan is young and he has the energy to travel back and forth to Albany. It’s a lot of stress for us down-state folk. Dan’s odds: 3 to1.

2. Vince Tabone, Executive Director of the Queens County GOP.

Odds of running against Avella = 10 to 1.

Vince Tabone is one of those ‘operatives’ turned candidates. Vince pals around with Chairman Phil Ragusa from the Queens County GOP and he has mulled around the thought of taking the chair position from Ragusa for quite some time. Plenty of ambition over at the party HQ. Interesting story about Tabone, when I was working a special election in South Queens, Vince cornered me at the Reception House on Northern Blvd during a local GOP convention and promised to deliver me boots on the ground (code phrase for pro-volunteers) to South Queens. With the election a few days away, and no help from the Queens GOP in sight (we won that election by ourselves) I said, “Vince, you have no boots on the ground, and you can’t deliver what you don’t have.” I patted him on the back and I walked away. Later on he would run a failing bid for State Assembly against now incumbent Ed Braunstein, who I campaigned for.

Overall, Vince was a lackluster candidate who paid volunteers to sit around and eat. It’s true, my people saw his people on Election day hanging out at Gyro World. They were paid volunteers and they came from Long Island. But that’s not the point. The Senatorial electorate doesn’t want another hard-nosed conservative (the anti-gay sort), but that may not stop him from running. Vince is a great fundraiser plus he has an acerbic tongue that puts fear into the hearts of his opponents. Even with the North Shore Towers (a Democratic stronghold with dependable voters) working against him, Vince gave the Democratic County Machine a run for its money.  Vince’s odds: 10 to 1

3. Elio Forcina, Former State Assembly Candidate, Attorney.

Odds of running against Avella = 99 to 1

Elio Forcina is thought to be highly regarded amongst Conservatives as well as the Queens GOP. Elio ran for State Assembly District 26 in a Democratic primary as a Conservative Dem, and won nearly every single ED in Whitestone, (a stronghold of sometimes conservative leaning voters). During his grassroots campaign, Elio stuck to his Conservative roots and ran a platform of fiscal responsibility and increasing transparency in Albany. Wilson Pakula? Elio is also a neighborhood fixture in Clearview Gardens and his campaign banner is still up at the 7-11 parking lot in Whitestone, and probably will be forever.

I see Elio at many meetings, or at least see him in touch with current events on Facebook. I also campaigned for Elio because I thought he’d make for a great Assembly Member. Despite our contrasting views on the role of government, Elio would have been amiable enough to center himself and bring home the bacon to AD 26, he is after all, a neighborhood guy. Elio’s odds = 99 to 1

4. Marco DeSena

Odds of running against Avella = 20 to 1

Marco is somewhat of a mystery. Marco filed to run for Assembly in AD27 and got himself enough signatures to get on the ballot, and that’s where I believe his campaign ended. Marco spent 36 dollars in the election and gave Democrat Mike Simanowitz the edge. If Simanowitz had just three volunteers (he had an army of supporters, including yours truly) that would have been three more volunteers than DeSena had .

I ran into DeSena for the first time at a rally before the election, he came up and introduced himself. The Professor from Baruch College did not give off a candidate’s vibe, and the rally where we met wasn’t in his district. Although the Queens GOP did endorse him, someone over there must either like him, or they couldn’t find anyone else to step up to the plate. So, I don’t know. Something’s going on. DeSena is a variable, and now with an “Assembly run” behind him, at least he got his foot in the door. Marco’s odds = 20 to 1

5. ?

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* Many more may enter or never declare, and there’s no residency requirement for running. Also redistricting is a big issue, so we don’t actually know where Senate 11 will be located. Lastly, Senator Tony Avella is an excellent legislator and an experienced campaigner. He knows the people and the district better than any of the candidates above.

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