Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Smoking Gun On Redistricting

Here is how Republicans in the state Senate talk about redrawing district lines when they think no one is paying attention:

They loosely refer to black and Latino communities on Long Island as "politically undesirable areas."

They strategize about the best way to "strengthen the Long Island delegation" of nine Republicans.

They angle to create low-population or "light" districts upstate to maximize the number of GOP senators.

And their decision about creating a particular district comes down to a judgment about whether it will be "a Republican pickup."

These crassly political statements were not overheard on a wiretap. They weren't loose talk over beers. No, they come straight out of an internal memo, written on government letterhead by a government employee intimately involved in the nitty-gritty of redistricting.

The little-noticed document was written in 2001 and became public in 2003. But Senate Democrats are circulating it now because it's obvious that nothing has changed since then.

First, memo author Mark Burgeson still works as a "demographic research analyst" for the Senate side of the Legislative Task Force on Reapportionment.

Second, the man Burgeson wrote it to - Sen. Dean Skelos, then the task force co-chairman - has since moved up the ladder to majority leader.

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