When state Senate Republicans were asking voters in 2010 to restore their majority, they unanimously and unambiguously promised to support creating an independent body to draw new legislative district lines. Even the most casual observer of state government might have rightly asked, “What’s the catch?”
It turns out the catch was as obvious, not to mention cynical, as any escape clause one could imagine: They lied.
That’s not a word we like to use. But there is simply no parsing such outright deceit.
Normally, legislators’ lies are between them and their constituents. But when they’re practiced by an entire legislative conference — one that controls a chamber, no less, and thus the ability to pass bills — it stains the institution of government and affects all citizens.
Governor Cuomo still has a chance to try to repair that damage when he delivers his State of the State address on Wednesday. He should call on the Senate Republicans to honor their word, and challenge them to accept redistricting by an independent entity.
The Republicans made this promise with much fanfare in the 2010 campaign. It was no insignificant matter in a state where lawmakers have long been able to effectively choose their own constituents. They signed a pledge to support independent redistricting put forward by a group called NY Uprising, spearheaded by former New York City Mayor Ed Koch.