Friday, January 27, 2012

New lines draw veto threat

New state legislative districts were unveiled Thursday amid a fusillade of criticism — including an unprecedented veto threat by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Cuomo's verdict came in a terse statement a few hours after the lines, which must be redrawn every 10 years to conform to the new federal Census, arrived at 2 p.m.
"At first glance, these lines are simply unacceptable and would be vetoed by the governor," said spokesman Josh Vlasto. "We need a better process and product."
New lines have been drawn by LATFOR, which is jointly controlled by Democrats who dominate the Assembly and Republicans who hold a bare 32-seat majority in the Senate. By long tradition, the majority party draws lines in its own house.
The process has long been criticized by good-government groups. In 2010, former New York City Mayor Ed Koch asked lawmakers to pledge to reform the system, and most — including Cuomo and Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos — signed on.
"Today, victory lies with the enemies of reform," Koch said in a statement.
Over the afternoon, good-government groups offered critiques of the new lines. Among their criticisms:
State law allows a 10 percent variation between districts, which ideally contain 129,089 residents per Assembly member or 307,356 per senator. An analysis by Bill Mahoney of the New York Public Interest Research Group found 50 of the 63 proposed Senate districts are more than 3 percent from the target (compared to none in 1992 and 19 in 2002); only three were within 1 percent of the target, compared to 47 in 1992 and 11 in 2002.

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