New York's Redistricting News
(December 29, 2000 - April 22, 2002)

 Buffalo News: "Primary concern." April 22, 2002
 New York Times: "Senate Revises Its Proposal for New Legislative Districts." April 20, 2002
 New York Times: "Final Plan for Redistricting Is Unveiled by Albany Houses." April 9, 2002
 New York Times: "For Now, a Democratic Vote Victory." March 14, 2002
 Albany Times-Union: "GOP slams plan to redistrict." March 7, 2002
 New York Times: "In Real Elections, There Is Competition." February 16, 2002
 Democrat and Chronicle: "New legislative lines mean many primaries." February 15, 2002

 Albany Times Union: "Lawsuits filed over pace of redistricting process." February 8, 2002
 New York Times: "Redistricting: Add a Seat, Gain an Edge." January 27, 2002
 New York Times: "With 2 Congressional Seats Lost, Albany Begins Battling Over Who Must Go." January 22, 2002
 New York Newsday: "Legislature already far behind schedule on redistricting." January 5, 2002
 Associated Press: "Web Site on Redistricting of Legislative, Congressional Districts." September 2, 2001
 New York Newsday: "Facts and Figures About Redistricting in New York." September 2, 2001
 New York Times: "How to Redraw Congressional Lines." May 7, 2001
 Associated Press: "Reapportionment plan would create heavily Hispanic district." May 4, 2001
 Associated Press: "Lawmaker sees NYC gains in statehouse." April 25, 2001
 New York Times: "Briefing: The Census; Redistricting panel tie-breaker." April 1, 2001
 New York Times: "More People May Not Save House Seats." April 1, 2001
 Associated Press: "Pataki administration hires redistricting 'director'." March 23, 2001
 Associated Press: "Cutting the new political puzzle is the state Legislature's job."
 New York Times: "In Politics, the Numbers Go New York City's Way." March 16, 2001

 New York Newsday
: "Editorial: New Census, Old Politics = New Districts." December 31, 2000
 New York Newsday: "Reapportionment a Task Few Relish." December 29, 2000

More Recent Redistricing News from New York

Buffalo News
Primary concern
By Tom Precious
April 22, 2002

Like any political challenger considering a run against an entrenched member of Congress, Peter Crotty already faces plenty of obstacles in a state where incumbents are seldom booted from office anyway.

But not even knowing the whereabouts of the congressional district he wants to represent?

So it goes for Crotty and anyone else thinking about taking on an incumbent member of the House of Representatives from New York State.

More than three months into this election year, the state still hasn't drawn its congressional districts.

In fact, New York is the last state in the nation to decide the shapes of its congressional districts in a once-a-decade process known as redistricting.

Crotty is the son of the former Erie County Democratic boss Peter J. Crotty, who helped elect one Kennedy to the White House and another Kennedy to the U.S. Senate. The son is thinking about challenging Rep. Jack Quinn, a Hamburg Republican.

But less than two months before candidates must begin gathering signatures from voters in order to get on the ballot this fall, the South Buffalo resident has no idea of the boundaries of Quinn's future district.

Indeed, no one can say for certain whether Quinn's district will even be there in November. Or if it is, whether it will be joined with a neighboring district.

That's because New York is losing two congressional seats after population shifts were uncovered in the 2000 U.S. census. Because Western New York lost residents over the past decade, there is a lot of speculation that one of the four local districts won't exist later this year.

"It's making it more difficult," Crotty said of his decision about running. "I'm facing the decision of whether or not to take a chance (and announce a bid) or be a little more careful and wait to see what the district turns out to be."

Just how bad is it in New York?

Of the 42 states going through the map redrawing because they have more than one House seat, only four states are considered laggards by redistricting watchdogs.

The other states - including all the large ones - have enacted a plan, had one imposed by the courts or are within days of having their plans completed, according to the individual states and several groups that monitor redistricting nationally. Many states completed their task last year.

Even in Illinois, a state losing one House seat and with a divided state legislature, the congressional redistricting job was done in June - 10 months before its congressional primaries last month.

"New York is definitely last in the class," said Michael McDonald, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois-Springfield who has been tracking redistricting nationwide.

Advantage, incumbents

That gives incumbents the advantage.

"It's tough on challengers, no question," acknowledged Assemblyman William Parment, D-Jamestown, who is heading the Assembly's redistricting panel.

"If a person is contemplating a challenge for Congress, it'd be very difficult to get a campaign off the ground."

Reformers had criticized the state legislative process, saying it was unfair and packed with examples of gerrymandering. Still, eight hearings were held to discuss state legislative districts, and then some changes were made to appease critics.

By contrast, Parment could not say for certain that there will be any public hearings on the congressional lines.

"Obviously we're starting to shrink the envelope," he said.

There are all sorts of explanations for the delay in Albany - where congressional redistricting is being controlled by state legislative leaders and Gov. George E. Pataki.

There's the fact that each major party controls one of the two legislative houses at the Capitol, making quick consensus difficult.

The decision is so much harder this year because of the loss of two seats.

And state lawmakers have been busy the past couple of months working on drawing their own Assembly and Senate lines.

Yet even states with similar problems are much further ahead of the Empire State in a process that will decide district lines for the next 10 years.

When it's all done, the process in New York is certain to produce a map of 29 districts that favors incumbents over challengers. The delay also leaves challengers uncertain about their possible bids, while incumbents, or at least the 29 remaining, again have the political gods with them, critics say.

"It's an incumbency protection delay in New York. Whether intentional or not, that's definitely the impact," said Rob Richie, director of the Center for Voting and Democracy, a Washington-area government reform group headed by 1980 presidential candidate John Anderson.

Among the other tardy states, Maine, which has only two congressional seats, anticipates taking up the issue next year. In Oklahoma and Kansas, competing plans were made public long ago, and now fights are on in the legislatures and courts to finalize the lines.

In New York, no plan has even been presented by the Assembly, Senate or Pataki. No maps, no public discussions, no talk of hearings. That despite the rapidly approaching date of June 4, which is the first day candidates can begin collecting signatures from voters to qualify for a ballot line.

Lots of money, though, has traded hands, such as the $50,000 that Quinn gave to State Senate Republicans last fall and the hundreds of thousands of dollars Rep. Amo Houghton and groups tied to him have donated to GOP causes to help protect his seat.

Law in eight states

In eight states, deadlines are enacted as part of state law to require that redistricting gets done on time. Those states, such as Arizona, New Jersey and Washington, also happen to be the ones that have independent commissions - not state lawmakers or party insiders - handling redistricting.

Many states have much earlier primaries than New York's Sept. 10 date, requiring them to move sooner than New York. But few states, if any, have given challengers as little time to prepare as New York has between the end of the redistricting process and primary day, McDonald said.

"It's not a good process in New York," he said.

Already people such as State Sen. Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republican who is co-chairman of the legislative task force on redistricting, are talking about delaying that June 4 start date for collecting signatures. That is likely, because even after a plan surfaces from secret talks by party leaders, the U.S. Department of Justice needs up to 60 days to review the lines. Then there are the lawsuits that likely will be filed by groups claiming the lines are illegal; these are likely to further delay a final adoption.

In the past few days, Albany insiders have begun discussing delaying the Sept. 10 primary. Republicans privately say that could help Pataki, because it would let his two Democratic rivals, H. Carl McCall and Andrew Cuomo, attack each other that much closer to the November general election.

That same logic was used 20 years ago by some Republicans when the state's primary was delayed until Sept. 23 - just six weeks before the general election. But Mario Cuomo, father of Andrew Cuomo, beat back Ed Koch in a bitter Democratic primary and went on to defeat the GOP candidate, Lewis Lehrman.

Moreover, Rochester billionaire B. Thomas Golisano, a sharp critic of Pataki, is leaning toward an Independence Party primary race against Pataki this year. If so, Pataki would not want that fight extended well into September.

New York officials obtained population data used for redistricting more than a year ago from census officials, and politicians have known for much longer that the state would be losing two seats.

Deal proves elusive

Still, the party leaders controlling the congressional redistricting process have been unable to strike a deal, raising the possibility that a judge will appoint a "special master" to craft the lines.

In a state where on-time budgets are a distant memory, no one in Albany is surprised that redistricting is taking so long. But reform groups say challengers are hurt by the delays because it gives them less time to organize, raise money and meet voters as they try to take on well-financed incumbents.

The delay over the new House lines is "just part of the package known as the incumbency protection act," said Blair Horner, a lobbyist with the New York Public Interest Research Group.

"Like most things in Albany, redistricting is consciously dysfunctional," he added. "The whole process is a scam, and the public is the loser, because it's so rare to have competitive races in New York."

New York Times
Senate Revises Its Proposal for New Legislative Districts
By Shaila K. Dewan
April 20, 2002

The State Senate has agreed to redraw its redistricting plan to create an Upper Manhattan district with a Hispanic majority and to rejoin parts of Borough Park in Brooklyn that had been split, Gov. George E. Pataki said today after speaking at an annual conference of Latino voters and community leaders.

The Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg has also been reunited, a Senate aide said later in the day.

Borough Park, where residents protested that their Orthodox Jewish enclave had been divided among five senators, is likely to be satisfied with the compromise, said Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who represents the area. But minority groups and politicians who have pushed for different lines in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx reacted more cautiously.

Under the new plan, which still must be signed by the governor, approved by the United States Justice Department and survive court challenges, Borough Park would be split between a district that straddles Brooklyn and Staten Island, now held by Senator Vincent J. Gentile, and a new district with a black majority where there is no incumbent, said Thomas Dunham, a spokesman for Senator Dean G. Skelos, who oversees redistricting in the Senate.

But the Upper Manhattan district is not likely to satisfy a broad coalition of minority groups that have asked the governor to veto the Senate plan, said Angelo Falcon, senior policy director at the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund.

The original Senate plan created an additional Hispanic district in Queens and a black district in Brooklyn. But the coalition has made three basic arguments: that the plan systematically overpopulates city districts, which are home to most of the state's minority residents; that it further dilutes minority votes by adding a Senate seat, bringing the total to 62; and that it discriminates against Latinos and blacks, particularly in Upper Manhattan and on Long Island.

Senate officials have said that the population range among districts and the addition of a seat are legal.

The new configuration in Manhattan is a partial answer to the coalition, which had argued that if the city's districts were not crammed with more people than those upstate, there could be an additional Hispanic district in Upper Manhattan. The new lines simply reconfigure the existing districts to make one 57 percent Hispanic, the governor said. The district has a white incumbent, Eric T. Schneiderman, a Democrat.

The district's voting-age population is likely to be closer to 51 percent than 57 percent Hispanic, a figure some redistricting experts have said would not be sufficient to elect a Hispanic official in a Dominican-American district, where many adults are not citizens.

Still, the new configuration is likely to bring challengers to Mr. Schneiderman. One person who said he would consider running is Guillermo Linares, who was the first Dominican-American city councilman but lost his seat to term limits last year.

"This is a step closer, clearly, to what we have been pursuing all along," he said.

But Senator David A. Paterson, a Democrat who represents Harlem, said the Senate plan could not go far enough as long as it insisted on creating a white district in the Bronx, which he said prevented compact districts in the South Bronx, Washington Heights and Inwood. "You don't have to have all these squiggly lines," he said. "The communities are lined up perfectly, and all you have to do is draw it."

The Senate majority leader, Joseph L. Bruno, said the changes would not hurt any of the 36 Republicans in his majority conference.

New York Times
Final Plan for Redistricting Is Unveiled by Albany Houses
By Shaila K. Dewan
April 9, 2002

After eight public hearings and weeks of deal-making, the State Legislature released its final redistricting plan yesterday, revising one issued in February. Although lines were tweaked and a few individual political destinies decided, the two houses have not budged on the larger issues, which will determine how much of an edge the two parties can keep in the houses they dominate.

The main criticism of both plans is the same: The majority party in each house, seeking to create the maximum number of districts in which it can win, crams districts likely to go to the other party full of people, thereby diluting the voting strength of the minority party in surrounding districts.

In the Republican-led Senate plan, upstate districts have an average population of 297,328, and city districts, which are more likely to be Democratic, have an average population of 313,204. In the Democratic-led Assembly plan, the discrepancy is smaller: upstate districts north of the city have an average population of 128,338, while city districts have an average of 123,204 people.

The plan, which is almost certain to be approved by the Legislature this week, still has to be signed by Gov. George E. Pataki and approved by the United States Justice Department, and must withstand the inevitable court challenges. Senator Dean G. Skelos, the co-chairman of the redistricting task force, which unveiled the plan today, said he was confident the plan met state and federal requirements and "meets the needs of New Yorkers," he said.

Senator Richard A. Dollinger, a Democrat from Rochester, was the only task force member to vote against recommending the plan. The Assembly Republican, Chris Ortloff of Plattsburgh, voted for the plan, saying that it was not perfect but that many of the initial problems had been fixed.

The Senate plan creates a new predominantly black district in Brooklyn and a new mostly Hispanic district in Queens, and pits Senators Toby A. Stavisky and Daniel R. Hevesi of Queens against each other.

Opponents of that plan have argued that by cramming more people into downstate districts than into upstate districts, it cheats Latino voters out of an additional seat in Upper Manhattan, where the Dominican community was chopped up into three districts under the initial plan. The revised plan does not create a new district, but redraws the lines so that the district of Eric T. Schneiderman, a Democrat, encompasses all of Washington Heights, making it 51 percent Hispanic. But in a Dominican community, where many are new immigrants who cannot vote, that is not likely to be enough to elect a Dominican lawmaker.

The plan of the Democrat-led Assembly adds four seats to New York City, including an Asian-American and a Latino district in Queens and a Latino district in the Bronx. Republicans have complained that the city's population warrants only two additional seats.

But still, the Assembly Republicans won some concessions. The original plan would have forced 22 of them to run against one another; the revised version has reduced that number to 4.

In the Senate, where the majority holds a slimmer margin, there was no such endorsement, but it was clear that several minority members had made peace with the plan. Some Democrats hope that the governor, whose representatives have said that he wants to maximize the number of minority districts, will veto the plan.

The governor had said that he hoped inequities would be corrected before the final plan was revealed. Today, a spokesman for his office said he was still reviewing the new lines.

In the task force meeting today, Senator Skelos thanked eight Democratic senators, most of them Hispanic or black. The Republicans would need six Democratic votes to override a veto.

Some of those named by Senator Skelos had clearly fared well in the negotiations over redistricting. Senator Carl Kruger, a white Democrat whose district had gone from overwhelmingly white to 61 percent black in the first redistricting plan, has new lines that give him a district that looks like the jawbone of a construction crane but is 75 percent white.

Senator Kruger, who has endorsed Governor Pataki, said that an outpouring of community support, as well as the fact that Mr. Pataki voiced his concerns about the district to the task force, helped get the lines changed.

New York Times
For Now, a Democratic Vote Victory
By Adam Clymer
March 14, 2002

Democrats won their second important judicial victory over racial redistricting when a state judge held this week that Virginia's legislative map was unconstitutional because it packed black voters into a few districts to diminish their political influence.

The judge, Richard C. Pattisall of Circuit Court in Salem, Va., said the legislature placed more black voters into 17 districts "than are necessary or reasonable to give the minority voters a reasonable opportunity to elect a candidate of its choice as mandated by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act." Judge Pattisall ordered the legislature to draw a new map in time for a special election in November.

His decision on Monday is all but certain to be appealed to Virginia's Supreme Court, but Democrats who brought the suit said the decision would be influential elsewhere, even though they framed their case under Virginia law rather than federal law. They pointed out that Judge Pattisall's conclusions paralleled those of a federal court that validated New Jersey's legislative map last summer against Republican attacks that it unconstitutionally diluted minority voting strength.

Ron Klain, a Washington lawyer who represented Democrats in the case, said the Virginia and New Jersey decisions were "bookends on an emerging new law about packing."

"In New Jersey the fact that the districts were not packed was successfully defended," Mr. Klain said. "Here, the fact that the districts were packed was successfully attacked."

Republicans sharply disagreed. John Morgan, a Republican redistricting specialist, said Judge Pattisall was a former Democratic county chairman, and called his ruling "partisan gibberish."

Tom Hoffler, in charge of redistricting for the Republican National Committee, dismissed the ruling as a "brand-new interpretation of the Voting Rights Act that he has found in the Virginia Constitution."

Jerry Kilgore, Virginia's attorney general and a Republican, said he was confident that the decision would be reversed on appeal. "The new legislative boundaries approved by the Virginia General Assembly," Mr. Kilgore said, "were not drawn with an effort to discriminate against anyone on the basis of race."

This lawsuit, like the redistricting plan approved in New Jersey, was part of a Democratic counterattack against Republican successes after the 1990 census. Republicans backed the creation of districts with majorities from racial minorities. Democrats contended that the effort had stripped so many reliable black voters out of districts that had sent white Democrats to Congress and state legislatures that Republicans made a substantial gain.

In New Jersey, Democrats backed a plan that reduced the minority voter percentages in many districts represented by blacks and Hispanics. Those minority lawmakers backed the plan, which helped Democrats take over the State Assembly, elect an Hispanic speaker, Albio Sires, and see the total number of minorities in the legislature grow to 24, from 20.

The Virginia redistricting was comparably successful, but for the Republicans. While minority membership held steady at 10, Republicans went from 47 to 64 members of the 100-seat House of delegates, even though their party was losing the governorship to a Democrat, Mark Warner.

Republicans chose not to appeal the New Jersey decision to the Supreme Court. Exactly who will appeal the Virginia decision is not clear. Mr. Kilgore and Governor Warner are arguing about whether the attorney general can appeal without the governor's agreement.

Several members of the legislature, including the speaker of the House of Delegates, were originally named as defendants, but they contended they were immune from service of legal papers. It is now murky as to whether they formally remain in the case.

Judge Pattisall also invalidated a number of districts because he held that they were not contiguous, saying the legislature reached across bodies of water to "grab" voters to give some districts the population they needed. The questions of compactness and contiguity are not issues likely to affect maps in other states, because the federal courts routinely accept weirdly shaped districts.

The racial issue, however, is different. John Hardin Young, special counsel to the Democratic National Committee for redistricting, said the decision had "broad application because the judge applied traditional redistricting criteria."

Mr. Young said Judge Pattisall found "that there was racial gerrymandering, and black votes were diluted by packing."

"The packing of minorities," Mr. Young said, "is a cynical effort to decrease the representation and influence of minority voters."

Albany Times-Union
GOP slams plan to redistrict
By James M. Odato
March 7, 2002

A team of Republicans complained Wednesday that downstate's lopsided legislative advantage will grow more out of balance under a redistricting plan created by Democrats who keep saying they want to help upstate.

"We're basically two different states,'' said Assemblyman Roy McDonald, R-Wilton, whose district was changed so drastically that he would be forced to run against seven-year Assemblywoman Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury. "What you're seeing is geographic discrimination.''

The group, which included GOP chairs of North Country, Mohawk Valley and Capital Region parties, asked why prominent Democrats haven't taken a stand against the dilution of upstate's clout.

"They keep saying, 'We feel your pain,'' said Saratoga County GOP chairman Jasper Nolan.

However, the Republicans declined to question why Republican Gov. George Pataki or Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno have not challenged the proposed addition of four Assembly seats in New York City, to a total of 65.

The Assembly Democrats' plan calls for 64 upstate districts with an average population of 128,348 people represented, 21 on Long Island with an average 131,139, and 65 in the five boroughs with an average 123,204.

Republican Assembly minority members say New York City's population growth warrants only two new seats. Pataki hasn't said whether he thinks the metropolitan area deserves four seats. But he has described the Assembly Democrats' plan as unfair.

Assembly Democrats, including William Parment, D-Jamestown, who helped draft the plan, say population growth alone could not be used to build the new district map. He said the federal Voting Rights Act also requires boundaries to be drawn to ensure minority populations have fair representation, resulting in the loss of a seat on Long Island and three others north of Westchester County.

Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell Jr., chairman of the state Democratic Party, also said Pataki, not representation in the Assembly, should be blamed for upstate's economic woes.

Meanwhile, at a separate hearing on the upstate economy, Business Council President Dan Walsh warned lawmakers about the dangers of polarizing New Yorkers by trying to pit downstate against upstate to suit a political agenda.

"The 'upstate economy' was politically manufactured in the Clinton/Lazio campaign,'' said Walsh, referring to the 2000 race in which Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton defeated Republican Rep. Rick Lazio for the U.S. Senate, largely by focusing on the state's economic woes north of New York City.

Joblessness and poverty are statewide problems that are not unique upstate, Walsh said. And each county or municipality has its own needs and difficulties. Some rural areas might lack Internet connections and other high-tech infrastructure, while urban centers are struggling to educate their work force.

"Everyplace you go, downstate and upstate, you have haves and have nots,'' Walsh said. "You have to deal with the substance of the issue and be careful not to exacerbate that divide.''

New York Times
In Real Elections, There Is Competition
By Samuel Issacharoff
February 16, 2002

To no one's surprise, the Republicans in Albany's Senate majority have just gerrymandered themselves once again into districts designed to last for life, while the Democrats controlling the Assembly have done the same. The next, inevitable step is legal challenge by legislators or groups on the losing end of the fight ˇ with taxpayers picking up much of the tab.

A simple question arises every 10 years, with each replay of redistricting: Why should political insiders be able to conjure up cartographic fantasies to keep themselves in office? For political insiders, the result is to lock in political power. For voters, it is dreary elections without meaningful competition.

Real competition, where a challenger to an incumbent might have some actual chance of winning, is evidenced in elections that are won by margins of less than 10 percent of the vote. Those results are notably absent in New York legislative races. In 1996, for example, 201 of the state's 211 legislative seats were won by margins of more than 10 percent.

Races for Congress ˇ with districts drawn by state legislatures working to guard party interests ˇ are also overwhelmingly noncompetitive. In 1996, of the 113 members of Congress who were first elected in the 1980's, all 113 won ˇ 109 of them by at least 10 percent and 75 by 30 percent or more.

Despite the fashionable worry about low voter turnout, the wonder is that anyone bothers to participate at all in such hollow elections.

The redistricting process will not be reformed from within. No politician has incentive to change a system by which he or she obtained office and that dramatically enhances the prospect of remaining there.

In some states, voter initiatives have changed things. Arizona, for example, passed a proposition in 2000 setting up a nonpartisan redistricting commission and directing it to work without reference to partisan information and without regard to incumbent political bases. In New York and most other states, however, there is no initiative process allowing voters to bypass the legislature.

Court challenges to political control would seem a promising path to reform, but unfortunately, current constitutional doctrine does not reach partisan gerrymandering unless it "consistently degrades" the political process ˇ an exacting standard never once reached since it was announced by the Supreme Court in 1986. Court oversight is allowed only for questions of numerical equality of voting districts and impermissible considerations of race. Nowhere does the court address partisan-inspired, systemic degradations of the competitiveness of the political process.

Where voters do have access to the initiative process or are able to mobilize politically and force legislative action, self-interested redistricting is often a target. Already, 12 states have created special tribunals or administrative processes to handle redistricting away from the direct control of the legislature. These systems vary in their effectiveness, depending on who chooses appointees to the redistricting bodies and how insulated they are from political oversight. Hawaii and Montana go so far as to make commission plans final without any legislative review. Iowa relies upon an administrative, nonpartisan agency, the Legislative Service Bureau, much like the Boundary Commissions that handle redistricting in Britain. In order to prevent improper political considerations, the Iowa agency conducts redistricting without reference to voter registration data, partisan election results or the residency of incumbents. (The main criteria used are contiguity, compactness, and municipal and county lines.)

But the states using these commissions remain a minority. Unless courts are prepared to address the competitive integrity of the electoral process as a constitutional issue, New York voters and most voters in this country will remain captives of rigged political systems.

Samuel Issacharoff is a professor at Columbia Law School and an author of "The Law of Democracy."

Democrat and Chronicle
New legislative lines mean many primaries
By Erika Rosenberg and Jay Gallagher
February 15, 2002

Dozens of incumbent lawmakers would be pitted against each other in primaries this fall under a redistricting plan made public Thursday.

Under the proposal, 22 upstate Assembly Republican incumbents and six New York City Democrats in the Senate would face each other in primaries.

The plan redraws the boundaries of legislative districts to reflect population shifts measured by the 2000 census.

Critics said the new lines were manipulated to protect incumbents of the dominant parties in each house.

Assembly Republicans said the plan is unfair to upstate, which they said lost more seats than justified by population shifts. New York City, which gained 685,000 people between 1990 and 2000, would get four more seats in the Assembly and one in the Senate.

The Senate would grow by one seat, from 61 to 62, with the addition of a new district in Brooklyn. Districts in the Republican stronghold of upstate would be largely unchanged.

The size of the 150-seat Assembly can't be altered. The plan would shift four seats to New York City, giving the Democratic bulwark a total of 65.

Republicans currently control the Senate, 36-25, while the Democrats dominate the Assembly, 96-53, with one vacancy.

Albany Times Union
Lawsuits filed over pace of redistricting process: Complaints in state and federal courts claim delays are jeopardizing fair elections
By James M. Odato
February 8, 2002

Gov. George Pataki and legislative leaders are facing lawsuits for failing to get a redistricting plan done and jeopardizing a fair election in November.

The complaints, lodged in U.S. District Court and state Supreme Court in New York City, are aimed at getting the lengthy redistricting process rolling so that candidates might have a chance to campaign and voters might know more about who is running before election day.

"Every day they delay the less likely they can do it on time,'' said Henry T. Berger, a lawyer who filed the suit in state court last week.

"The major concern is that by the time the Legislature acts the prejudice to voters may have occurred,'' said Gregory Soumas, the lawyer representing plaintiffs in the federal case.

The plaintiffs are voters in the New York City and Westchester County area who are described as "average'' New Yorkers, although some may be interested in running or backing candidates for office, their lawyers said. One plaintiff, Martin Malave-Dilan, once was on the New York City Council.

The redistricting plans, prepared by Assembly and Senate majorities, are scheduled to be released next week, said Thomas Dunham, a spokesman for Sen. Dean Skelos, R-Rockville Centre.

Ten years ago at this time, the Legislature's redistricting plans were already public and undergoing the public comment necessary before a final plan is submitted to the governor. Every 10 years, legislative and congressional districts are redrawn by a legislative task force using new U.S. Census Bureau data on population shifts.

"It's unfortunate,'' Dunham said about the lawsuits, noting that the task force's main office is about four blocks from the World Trade Center disaster site and was hampered by problems with power, phone and fax service. "We're only about one and a half weeks behind where we were 10 years ago.''

The lawsuits charge that current election districts are unconstitutional because they don't reflect the new data, which show a loss of population upstate and more growth in New York City.

"They've raised an issue that nobody argues with. I just don't know what they're trying to accomplish,'' said Deputy Attorney General Richard Rifkin. "I don't know anybody who is proposing to hold elections (according to) the 1992 lines.''

Delaying redistricting favors incumbents by giving challengers less time to prepare, said government reform groups. "The later the process ... the tougher it is for challengers,'' said Blair Horner, legislative director for the New York Public Interest Research Group.

NYPIRG, the League of Women Voters and Common Cause Thursday called on the Legislature to create competitive districts -- as opposed to districts designed to favor incumbents. But because the majority parties in each chamber control the design, the likelihood of their creating more politically balanced districts is low, the groups acknowledge.

New York Times
Redistricting: Add a Seat, Gain an Edge
By Richard P╚rez-PeĎa
January 27, 2002

As the center of gravity for New York State's population slips farther from the towns and farmlands upstate, the Republicans who control the State Senate, angling to keep their seats, plan to expand the chamber to 62 districts from 61.

They have not yet made that plan public, and already there are cries that carrying it out would be illegal. The problem is that determining what is allowable is akin to divination, and the answer is tangled in a legal thicket that prompts even experts to shake their heads and mutter, "Only in New York."

The one thing that appears certain is that the method of redrawing New York's legislative districts will land in court, just as it did in 1992, 1982 and 1972, and several times in the 1960's.

A complex formula, written into the State Constitution 108 years ago, theoretically sets the number of Senate seats, but it is subject to several plausible interpretations. Layered atop it is a long series of convoluted court decisions ˇ rulings that are, to the eyes of the uninitiated and the experts alike, downright bizarre.

Several Republican senators and aides, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, say it is certain that they will add a seat. The Republicans' public position is equivocal. "I think we could go to 62, but nothing has been decided," said Senator Dean G. Skelos, a Nassau County Republican who is co-chairman of the Legislature's Redistricting Commission.

Senate subplots include a border tussle between two Republican senators who want the same parts of Westchester County in their districts; hopes of creating a district based in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, that a Republican might carry; and thoughts of carving up the Upper East Side district that was represented by Senator Roy M. Goodman, a Manhattan Republican who resigned this month to take a job in the Bloomberg administration.

Every 10 years, the Legislature must create new boundaries for the Assembly ˇ the Senate and the House of Representatives ˇ based on the most recent census. Traditionally, the majority party in each chamber of the Legislature draws the lines for that house. New York will lose two of its 31 seats in Congress this year, reflecting its declining share of the national population. The State Constitution fixes the Assembly at 150 districts.

In a state that leans Democratic, the Republicans have an uneasy 36- to-25 hold on the Senate. It rests on their power to carve districts to their advantage, and their remarkable record of keeping control of seven mostly Democratic districts, despite a recent string of close calls.

Demographic shifts over the last decade pose new problems for the Republicans. Relative to the statewide population, overwhelmingly Democratic New York City grew, and upstate New York shrank. Also, the traditional Republican advantage upstate and in the suburbs has waned, a change reflected in voter registrations and local elections.

Keeping the Senate at 61 seats would mean adding one in the city and subtracting one upstate. Going to 62 seats could mean preserving all the upstate Republicans' districts, while still adding a district in the city.

Expanding to 62 would also shrink each district, making it easier to gerrymander Republican-leaning districts in and around New York City by slicing the most Democratic areas out of them. That could be of particular help to Senator Guy J. Velella, a Republican whose district in the Bronx and Westchester is more than 2-to-1 Democratic. He and Senator Nicholas A. Spano, a Westchester Republican, want some of the same areas around Yonkers and New Rochelle, and Mr. Velella would like to lose parts of the Bronx.

"We don't have many options in our area," Mr. Spano said. "Westchester County is becoming more and more Democrat in registration, and the Bronx is very Democrat."

Mr. Goodman is another Republican who was barely able to beat back recent challenges in a heavily Democratic district. Some Republicans say that if they lose a special election on Feb. 12 to replace him, they could give up trying to hold the district, and redraw it to prop up Mr. Velella, taking in a narrow band of mostly Republican pockets of the Upper East Side.

Republicans also hope to carve out a swing district around Bay Ridge that could go to a Republican.

Critics of the 62-seat plan say it would violate the federal Voting Rights Act of 1964 by diluting the power of minority voters. Any redistricting plan for the Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn is subject to scrutiny under that law, the legacy of a 1970's lawsuit. It must be shown not to diminish minority influence, and must be approved by the Justice Department before going into effect.

"If the minority seats go from 14 out of 61, to 14 out of 62, then that's an impermissible dilution of their influence," said Senator Martin Connor of Brooklyn, the Democratic minority leader, who is an election law expert.

Officials of some minority groups, including the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, said they were prepared to sue if the Senate were expanded.

Another complication is a string of federal court rulings over the last decade that make it harder to justify drawing districts that are based on race or have tortured shapes ˇ common practices in New York.

As for the State Constitution and the relevant court decisions, it seems that no one knows quite what to make of them. "We think we could go to 62, 63, even 68," Mr. Skelos said.

Angelo Falcon, senior policy executive at the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, which is closely following the redistricting process, said he could not make sense of the section of the Constitution on redistricting or of the court rulings interpreting it. "I guess they do this on purpose," he said. "The insiders can't even interpret it, so how can I? We operate in eight states, and we don't see anything like this, anything this hard to understand, anyplace else."

Mr. Connor's take: "It's weird."

And Mr. Skelos concluded, "If you had two accountants and two mathematicians in the room, they would come up with four different answers."

New York Times
With 2 Congressional Seats Lost, Albany Begins Battling Over Who Must Go
By Richard P╚rez-PeĎa
January 22, 2002

Amid the flood of numbers that cross a Congressional representative's desk these days, one is particularly dear to New York's 31 House members, as it means nothing less than political survival: 654,361. The number means that this year, at least two of the lawmakers' careers will be forcibly ended.

New York State's population did not grow enough from 1990 to 2000 to allow the state to keep all of its seats in the House of Representatives, so 31 districts must become 29, and nobody is volunteering to retire. By this summer, each House member from New York must have a district with a population of 654,361, give or take a few people. Right now, only 3 have it, and 28 do not.

And the answer to the puzzle lies not in Washington, but here in Albany.

This is the year of redistricting, that once- a-decade exercise when the State Legislature redraws the boundaries for State Senate, Assembly and Congressional districts, based on the results of the 2000 census. It is as nakedly political and partisan an exercise as this highly politicized Capitol has to offer. It is about alliances and rewards, about scraping for every advantage for yourself and your party, about staying alive.

It is early in the game, but already there are plenty of subplots, including Republicans' plans to protect shrinking upstate districts by adding seats to the State Senate, border skirmishes between Republican senators, and Democrats' dreams of a veto- proof majority in the Assembly.

But most of the intrigue is about the Congressional district lines, a game of musical chairs that is the price New York pays for having a slow-growing population in a fast-growing nation.

Conventional wisdom has it that one of the 19 Democrats and one of the 12 Republicans who represent the state in Congress will be the targets of the mapmakers. Until recently, the favored Republican approach was to cast overboard Representative Benjamin Gilman, a Republican who represents Rockland County and parts of Westchester, Orange and Sullivan Counties, and either Louise Slaughter or John LaFalce, Democratic House members from upstate districts. But Sheldon Silver, the Democratic Assembly speaker, has ruled out that plan, and Republicans now see drawbacks in it for them.

For now, there is no prevailing theory of what will happen, only a wide range of possibilities that dozens of people directly involved in the process, including state legislators and members of Congress, mentioned in interviews.

The most common predictions of the Democratic victim involve Representative Eliot L. Engel of the Bronx, Ms. Slaughter of Rochester, Representative Joseph Crowley of Queens and Representative Carolyn B. Maloney of Manhattan. On the Republican side, the possibilities most often cited are Mr. Gilman and a pair of western New York representatives, Jack Quinn and Amo Houghton.

"I've learned that within the Congressional redistricting, the dynamics can change very abruptly," said State Senator Dean G. Skelos, a Nassau County Republican who is co-chairman of the Legislature's redistricting commission. "All possible scenarios are out there, and I guarantee you, whatever the prevailing wisdom is, it'll change half a dozen times before this is over."

Mr. Skelos and his Democratic co-chairman, Assemblyman William L. Parment of western New York, say that district lines for the Legislature will probably be released in early February, but that the Congressional lines are not likely to be decided until May. New York has lost seats in each recent reapportionment, and in 1980 and 1990, redistricting was a bitter, drawn-out bloodletting, resolved only after the courts had imposed deadlines and threatened to take over the process.

Many members of Congress are lobbying Albany lawmakers as ardently as they can, hiring powerful lobbyists and giving large contributions to legislators' campaign funds. Several turned up for Gov. George E. Pataki's State of the State address this month, to chat with the people who will decide their fates. "I'm suddenly very popular," Mr. Parment said dryly.

The initial Republican plan would have carved up Mr. Gilman's district among its neighbors, and pushed Ms. Slaughter and Mr. LaFalce, of Buffalo, together into one district, with Mr. LaFalce having the advantage. Republicans like the idea of eliminating Mr. Gilman's district because it leans Democratic and could easily go to a Democrat after he retires. For the same reason, Democrats dislike the plan.

"Why on earth would I agree to eliminate what are basically two Democratic districts?" Mr. Silver asked. "The answer is, I wouldn't."

Some Republicans now say that combining Mr. LaFalce's district with Ms. Slaughter's would dump so many Democratic voters into neighboring districts that it could undermine two or even three Republican representatives.

Mr. Engel is the Democrat most often nominated by his fellow Democrats for elimination. He has a long- running feud with the Bronx Democratic chairman, Roberto Ramirez, a former assemblyman who still has influence in Albany. And Mr. Ramirez and other Democrats have long seen an opportunity, in tinkering with the boundaries of his overwhelmingly minority district, to elect a black or Latino representative. In his favor, he sits on the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee, a post that would probably go to a non-New Yorker if Mr. Engel left Congress.

At 72, Ms. Slaughter is the oldest Democrat in the delegation, and many people here and in Washington say that is a factor, because they are reluctant to save districts for representatives who might retire in a few years. "It's the ultimate in Darwinism," said a New York Congressional aide.

But the geography of her district ˇ a compact Democratic area, surrounded by Republican territory ˇ makes it hard to slice in a way that Republicans will accept.

Mr. Crowley, 39, has several strikes against him. He is one of the youngest and newest representatives from New York, having been first elected in 1998. He is a prot╚g╚ of Queens Democratic leader Thomas Manton, who helped try to overthrow Mr. Silver two years ago. And some Democrats in the Legislature are still upset that Mr. Manton engineered Mr. Crowley's election in a way that prevented them from running.

But Mr. Crowley's district has the largest population of any in the state, with 30,000 more people than it needs, and Queens, as a whole, grew so much that it will not lose representation. As a result, dividing up Mr. Crowley's district would require some difficult gerrymandering.

Democrats from other boroughs point out that Manhattan is overrepresented, and that if a district within the city must be eliminated, it should be there. If a Manhattan district were carved up, Democrats say, it would be Ms. Maloney's, because she would probably lose a power struggle against her neighbors in the borough, Charles B. Rangel and Jerrold Nadler.

Lawmakers in both parties say a logical Democratic victim would be Representative Maurice Hinchey, because his district, stretching from Kingston to Ithaca, could easily swing to a Republican. But Mr. Hinchey is very close to Mr. Silver and other top Assembly Democrats, who are determined to protect him.

Mr. Gilman remains a possible Republican target, in part because of his age ˇ at 79, he is the oldest member of the New York delegation. He joked that every time the subject came up, "rumors have me appointed ambassador to Siberia or something."

Mr. Houghton is also on the list, thanks to his age, 75, a widespread suspicion that he will not stay in Congress long, and the fact that his district is 79,000 people short of the magic number. But he has lobbied hard for the preservation of the district, and has won a sympathetic hearing among Republicans here. He said he planned to run again this year, but when asked whether he would run if he and Mr. Quinn were drawn into the same district, forcing a primary showdown, he said, "probably not."

Mr. Quinn is vulnerable because his is a swing district that could go Democratic, and it has fewer people than any other in the state, 91,000 short of what it needs.

"There are 100 ways this could go," Mr. Parment said. "And whichever one it is, it will be difficult and painful."

New York Newsday
Legislature already far behind schedule on redistricting
By Marc Humbert
January 5, 2002

New York's state Legislature is already far behind schedule on the politically sensitive task of redrawing voting district lines for itself and the state's congressional delegation based on the results of the 2000 Census.

While lawmakers had talked of having tentative district lines out for public comment by last fall, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and other factors got in the way.

"My guess is the end of this month or the beginning of February," said state Sen. Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republican who is co-chairman of the Legislature's redistricting task force.

"We got sidetracked by 9-11," added Skelos' co-chairman, state Assemblyman William Parment, a western New York Democrat. "The political leadership of the state was obviously absorbed by it."

The new district lines have to be in place for this year's November elections. Because of petitioning requirements to get on the ballot, the need for U.S. Justice Department approval of lines that effect heavily minority communities in the state and possible court fights, the Legislature's action must really be completed by late spring.

Parment said that while lawmakers are fairly close to completion for new lines for the state Senate and Assembly, "there has not been as much progress on the congressional lines."

The major problem facing the state legislative leaders on the congressional lines is that the Census results mean New York loses two of its 31 seats in Congress. That is because New York's population grew at a slower rate than much of the rest of the country. Those two seats now shift to other states. As a result, New York lawmakers must create new district lines that will put two members of Congress out of work.

Thus far, New York's members of Congress haven't made it any easier for the Legislature. None of the current 31 members have announced retirement plans that could ease the task.

The conventional wisdom is that Democrats, who rule in the state Assembly, and Republicans, who control the state Senate, will each give up one of their own in Congress. There have been all sorts of scenarios floating about on how to accomplish that.

On the Republican side, there had been talk last year that Rep. Amo Houghton of Jamestown might be at risk of losing his district, but all sides now agree that is highly unlikely. Other GOP members who have been mentioned as possible targets include Benjamin Gilman from the lower Hudson Valley and John McHugh of the Watertown area in northern New York.

On the Democratic side, the names most often mentioned as possible victims of congressional redistricting include Maurice Hinchey from the lower Hudson Valley and two western New York incumbents who might be forced into a faceoff against each other, John LaFalce and Louise Slaughter.

"This is really the rumor stage," Skelos said.

The Nassau County Republican said the final decision on which members of Congress get the ax will likely be made by Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Gov. George Pataki, a Republican, may have some input.

Should Republican Bruno and Democrat Silver be unable to agree, the congressional district lines could wind up being drawn by the courts. That, according to Democrat Parment, would likely favor his party given that there are five Democrats for every three Republicans in the state.

"If it goes that way, the Republican Party stands a chance of being big losers," Parment said.

While the Assembly will remain at 150 members, the state constitution does allow the size of the Senate, currently at 61 seats, to be changed. Skelos said there is a chance that chamber may see one or even two seats added as part of the redistricting process. A decision on that has yet to be made, he said.

One casualty of the compressed timetable is that planned public hearings on the tentative new district lines may be little more than a pro forma exercise when they are finally held this spring, according to some critics of the process.

"The redistricting process is Albany at its worst," said Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group. "There is no time when it is more secret and more self-serving than when it comes to redistricting."

Associated Press
Web Site on Redistricting of Legislative, Congressional Districts
By Joel Stashenko
September 2, 2001

New Yorkers monitoring the redrawing of boundaries for districts in Congress, the state Assembly and the state Senate will soon have a resource on the Internet.

The state Legislature's Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment says its Web site will be in service starting Tuesday.

Initially, the site--www.latfor.state.ny.us--will carry county-by-county information from the 2000 Census, voting and enrollment figures by county, maps of current Senate, Assembly and congressional districts, frequently asked questions about redistricting and transcripts of public hearings held so far by the task force.

The once-every-10-years redistricting process is always controversial. It will be made more so in 2002 by the impending loss of two seats in New York's delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives because the state lost population relative to other parts of the country during the 1990s.

The state currently has 31 representatives.

Congressmen almost never give up their seats willingly, and constituents in districts losing members usually feel they are also losing representation in Washington.

Several current members of New York's delegation have been rumored to be in jeopardy of losing their districts, including Republicans Amo Houghton of Jamestown, John McHugh of Jefferson County and Benjamin Gilman of the lower Hudson Valley. Most likely, one Republican and one Democrat will find themselves out of a district.

The legislative task force said it wants the Legislature and governor to finish adopting new district lines by next spring. The November 2002 elections for Congress and the Legislature will involve the new district lines.

The task force is not expected to put forward any proposed new district lines until early 2002, according to state Senate spokesman Mark Hansen. Members have started to quiz their colleagues in the Legislature and New York congressional members how they would like their districts to shape up.

One government watchdog, Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group, said the start-up of the Web site comes later than it should have. He said 33 states already have established such Internet sites.

The site could be a useful resource for citizens if the task force posts detailed maps of proposed new district lines, Horner said.

"We still don't know when they be offering draft maps and what is the public input process after those maps are available?" Horner said. "It is critically important that there be a substantial amount of time between the introduction of the draft maps and the final approval."

The task force must hold another round of public hearings around the state when it released draft district maps, according to Horner.

While the shape of new congressional districts will draw much attention, Horner said state Senate districts will also be hard for that chamber's ruling Republicans to configure. The New York City area--predominantly Democratic territory--gained population relative to the rest of the state during the 1990s, and it will take some creativity for Republicans to draw safe districts for some GOP members in that region.

New York Newsday
Facts and Figures About Redistricting in New York
September 2, 2001

Facts and figures about redistricting in New York state:

New York's congressional delegation will shrink from 31 to 29. New York state's population grew by 5.5 percent in the 1990s vs. 13.2 percent for the nation as a whole. The average number of people represented by those districts will grow after redistricting by about 74,024 people to 654,381.

The state constitution requires 150 state Assembly districts. The average number of people represented by those districts will grow by about 6,510 people to 126,150.

The number of state Senate districts is determined by a formula. There are currently 61. The average number of people represented by these districts will grow by about 16,164 people to 311,089.

Source: New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment.

New York Times
How to Redraw Congressional Lines
May 7, 2001

New York State will lose 2 of its 31 Congressional seats as a result of the 2000 national census, forcing state legislators to redraw the maps of voting districts. The custom in Albany has been for the political parties to spread the pain between parties and regions, which in this case would mean eliminating one Democratic district and one Republican, one from upstate and one from downstate. But this old-style map making is not appropriate this time around.

The census shows that over the last decade New York has lost population upstate and gained population downstate. The Legislature should heed that pattern and make certain that New York City and neighboring areas do not lose Congressional representation in some backroom barter. The new census figures show how New York City, Long Island and Westchester and Orange Counties have gained in numbers, while upstate counties like Erie, Oneida, Onandaga and Broome have lost.

A fair redrawing of Congressional maps would look to these population shifts - along with the requirements of the Voting Rights Act, which protects minority representation in some districts - to make certain that the lost seats fairly track the decreases in population. At this stage, the Legislature's public hearings are just beginning and the final maps are almost a year away. But the political powers in Albany are already receiving entreaties from members of Congress desperate to keep their own districts intact.

In a number of more progressive states that use a nonpartisan process, redistricting would be conducted with less political horse-trading and more transparency. Sadly, that enlightened approach will not be coming to New York in time for this redistricting season. The three leaders in Albany - Gov. George Pataki, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the Senate majority leader, Joseph Bruno - will not give up control over map making. Instead, each is said to be plotting how to divvy up the districts according to his own political needs, targeting political enemies to lose their seats or trading political favors to ensure safe districts for political allies. Public-interest organizations have promised to publicize the redistricting maps and lay out any distortions of the census realities. Albany's leaders need to recognize that the simple scheme of subtracting one upstate Congressional seat and one downstate seat does not fit the census data.


Associated Press
Reapportionment plan would create heavily Hispanic district
May 4, 2001

A draft reapportionment plan for the Westchester County Legislature would create a "Hispanic opportunity district" in central Yonkers to encourage Hispanic representation, a consultant says. Phillip Chonigman, hired by the Legislature to help it conform to the 2000 census, said Thursday the district would be 44 percent Hispanic.

There are no Hispanics on the Legislature now. The plan alters the boundaries of all 17 districts but avoids pitting any incumbents against each other in this year's elections. Two Republican legislators, Kay Carsky of Yonkers and Paul Noto of Mamaroneck, are not running for re-election. Democrats now have a 9-8 majority. Chairman George Latimer asked Chonigman to see if the draft could be modified to reduce the number of municipalities that are divided into separate districts.

Associated Press
Lawmaker sees NYC gains in statehouse
Rick Stevens
April 25, 2001

Redistricting based on the 2000 Census could give New York City three to five new state Assembly seats and one new state Senate seat, a lawmaker overseeing the process said Wednesday. State Assemblyman William Parment, D-Jamestown, acknowledged at a meeting of the New York State Associated Press Association that upstate New York will likely lose state lawmakers based on the census count. The census numbers showed robust growth in New York City and population losses in the major upstate cities.

Parment, co-chairman of the Legislature's Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment, believed there could be seats added in Queens and Staten Island. Since the number of state lawmakers is fixed at 211, 150 in the Assembly and 61 in the Senate, any seats New York City gains would come from other parts of the state. Parment said population losses in Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester and Albany will cost the upstate delegation. ``It will be difficult to draw lines to support the current districts,''' Parment said, referring to the upstate cities.

New York state also is losing two of its current 31 congressional seats because its population growth over the last decade was slower than some other parts of the nation. Parment said during a panel discussion on redistricting that the congressional losses likely will be shared between upstate and New York City. ``You would conclude that northwest of the Tappan Zee (bridge) would lose one and southeast of the Tappan Zee would lose one seat,'' he said. The Tappan Zee Bridge cross the Hudson River just north of New York City.

Pollster John Zogby, who also appeared on the panel, said there is talk that three members of the state's congressional delegation are on the ``endangered species list:'' Louise Slaughter, D-Rochester; Maurice Hinchey, D-Kingston, and James Walsh, R-Syracuse. New York City Reps. Joseph Crowley, D-Queens, and Vito Fossella, R-Staten Island, are now considered safe, Zogby said. Looking at redistricting of state legislative lines, Zogby said pickups in heavily-Democrat New York City bode well for Democrats.

``You're looking at a net gain in both houses for the Democrats,'' Zogby said. ``Democrats are in the ascendancy.'' Panelist Barbara Bartoletti of the New York state League of Women Voters said Parment and his Republican state Senate counterpart, Dean Skelos of Long Island, should recommend a reapportionment plan that redraws lines fairly and without concern for political power. Bartoletti said past redistricting efforts and the lack of meaningful campaign reform in the state have led to a 99 percent re-election rate for incumbents in the state Legislature ``You're more likely to die or be indicted than you are to be voted out in the state of New York,'' she said.

The New York Times
Briefing: The Census; Redistricting panel tie-breaker
Abhi Raghunathan
April 1, 2001

A 10-member commission said last week that it had reached an impasse on drawing a new state legislative map, and the chief justice of the state's Supreme Court, Deborah Poritz, appointed a tie-breaking 11th member. Larry Bartels, a professor of politics and public affairs at Princeton University, will join the five Democrats and five Republicans as an independent member of the commission, which now has 30 days to rearrange the 40 state legislative districts in accord with population changes from the new census.



The New York Times
More People May Not Save House Seats
Raymond Hernandez
April 1, 2001

Despite its strong population gains, New York City faces an intense fight to preserve its seats in the House of Representatives as political mapmakers in Albany begin to wrangle over new Congressional boundaries. The conflict stems from New York State's impending loss of two seats in the House, along with the fact that it is up to the State Legislature to decide which two should be eliminated. Democratic House members from New York City, along with their allies, argue that recent census figures showing a shift in population toward the city and away from upstate should insulate the city from losing any seats in Congress.

But the signs are not good from Albany, where power in the State Legislature is evenly divided between Democrats from New York City and Republicans from upstate and the suburbs. In fact, some Republicans have vaguely threatened to extract both seats from the city, offering little justification beyond their obvious political might. "It doesn't have to be two upstate" seats, said Dean G. Skelos, a deputy majority leader in the Republican-controlled State Senate and one of that chamber's lead negotiators in Congressional redistricting. "It could be two city" seats. But Republicans have signaled that they may settle on a compromise that eliminates one Republican-held seat upstate and one Democratic-held seat in the city.

Of more immediate concern to city Democrats is what position may be taken by their most powerful ally in the Legislature, Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat who is the speaker of the Assembly. He said in an interview this week that he would not rule out surrendering a city seat in a final deal. He did say that it would be very difficult to justify eliminating a Congressional seat in the city since most of the state's population growth has occurred there. But he insisted that he could not foreclose that possibility or any other at this early stage in the redistricting process. "I am considering everything," Mr. Silver said. "We have not ruled out, or in, anything."

The recent census figures showing New York City's rapid growth over the last decade surprised many lawmakers in both parties. Before the figures were disclosed on March 15, many seemed resigned to the prospect that at least one House seat in New York City would be eliminated, if only out of a sense of compromise. But that has changed since the actual figures were released, showing that the city has the highest population ever, more than eight million people. "New York City does not deserve to feel any pain in this process," said Representative Jose E. Serrano, a Bronx Democrat. "The numbers are on our side." The political machinations in Albany are being closely monitored by Democratic leaders in Washington, who are a handful of seats short of overthrowing the Republican majority in the House.

Howard Wolfson, the executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said any Congressional redistricting plan by Albany would affect the party's effort to take control of the House in 2002. "New York is an important part of the equation that gets House Democrats to the majority," he said. The maneuvering shows the difficulty of governing in a state where legislative power is split between Republicans and Democrats who represent different regions of the state. At the same time, Mr. Silver has made it clear since he became speaker seven years ago that he does not want the Democratic majority in the Assembly to be seen as beholden to New York City's interests at the expense of the rest of the state. Mr. Silver has often sided with upstate and suburban Democrats and against the Assembly's sizable New York City delegation in what has become a continuing struggle for control over the party's direction, at least in that chamber.

New York does not give Congressional representatives any official role in determining the state's new political map, a situation that contrasts with what other states do. In Massachusetts, for instance, the House members are drawing their own map to help shape the redistricting process on Beacon Hill. In New York, the task of redrawing the state's Congressional lines falls to a bipartisan panel of state lawmakers. But in the end, the most important decisions rest with Mr. Silver and Joseph L. Bruno, a Republican from upstate Rensselaer County who is the Senate majority leader. The Legislature and the governor must approve new Congressional lines in time for the 2002 elections.

The new map must also get clearance from the federal Justice Department, which will try to ensure that minority representation is preserved in certain parts of the city. Already, members from the city's delegation in Congress are warning that any deal that deprives New York City of a seat could diminish minority representation in Congress. That argument is based on the premise that most of the city's population gains are driven by an influx of Hispanic and Asian immigrants. Republicans, however, say minority representation could be adequately preserved even if the city loses a seat. Some city Democrats are raising the prospect that any map that eliminates a New York City seat potentially violates the one-man, one-vote requirements of the Constitution and may fail to meet a requirement of the Voting Rights Act: maximizing minority voting strength.

Representative Nydia M. Velazquez, a Democrat whose district comprises parts of Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens, said that situation could provoke lawsuits that seek to throw out the map that Albany devises. She said the elimination of a seat in the city could be a "detriment to those ethnic groups that have had the highest population gains." Representative Serrano of the Bronx said that, if anything, the city should gain a minority seat, given the growth in population among the city's Hispanic residents. But he conceded that the political reality in Albany could hurt the city.

"I think the political decision has been made to share the pain." The possibility that the courts, and not politicians, will guide the redistricting is posing new problems for both parties. That is because a judge would be bound only by the need to create a Congressional map based on population trends. Thus, a judge would be less likely than the Legislature to come up with a compromise that would satisfy both parties, or to consider factors like the prominence of Congressional members.



Associated Press
Pataki administration hires redistricting 'director'
Joel Stashenko
March 23, 2001

Gov. George Pataki has hired a lobbyist to track state lawmakers' redrawing of new congressional and state legislative district lines based on the 2000 Census. The lobbyist was involved in a controversy last year that led to one of his clients, computer giant Microsoft, being fined $30,000. Donald Clarey has been put on the state payroll as director of demographic resources at the Empire State Development Corp. and will make $115,000 a year, Pataki spokesman Michael McKeon said Tuesday.

The Albany-based Clarey worked for then-state Senate Republican Majority Leader Warren Anderson during the redistricting after the 1980 Census. Clarey also worked in the White House for former President Ronald Reagan. McKeon said Clarey would ``have the resources necessary'' to track redistricting for Pataki. McKeon would not say if other consultants will be hired or whether Clarey will use existing staff and equipment at Empire State Development, the state's economic development agency.

``Redistricting is a major issue that is going to affect every New Yorker and the governor believes it is part of his responsibilities to play a significant role in the process,'' McKeon said. Clarey will do no lobbying with lawmakers on Pataki's behalf on redistricting, McKeon said. Pataki said in January that while some of his predecessors didn't take an active role in the redistricting process, he intends to ``intelligently'' participate. To do that, he proposed spending $2 million through Empire State Development in fiscal 2001-02 to hire up to 10 demographers to keep watch over the redistricting process. The appropriation was characterized as spending for economic development.

Legislative leaders including Pataki's fellow Republican, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, have taken a dim view of the proposed appropriation. On Tuesday, Silver said he remains opposed to it. ``The governor has a significant work force on the second floor (of the Capitol), counsels that are capable of looking at any bill that we present, be it the environment, be it education, be it reapportionment,'' Silver said. ``I don't believe in `work force development' in this specialized area that comes up every 10 years.'' New legislative and congressional lines will have to be redrawn to reflect population changes between 1990-2000.

The state will lose two of its current 31 congressional seats, and Democrats in the state Legislature say at least one state Senate district should be shifted into New York City to reflect population gains in the five boroughs. The redistricting process in New York will stretch into next year. Clarey was working as a lobbyist in Albany for Microsoft last year when he was questioned under oath by the state Lobbying Commission about a filing showing who had attended a Microsoft-sponsored dinner at a New York City restaurant in November 1999.

The commission determined that some of the 33 people listed as attending, including some state legislators, were not on hand while others not listed were at the dinner that cost Microsoft $2,398. Clarey said Microsoft officials relied on erroneous lists produced by the offices of Assembly Minority Leader John Faso and New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Microsoft was fined $30,000 by the Lobbying Commission.

Associated Press
Cutting the new political puzzle is the state Legislature's job
Marc Humbert

With the Census 2000 figures in hand, the tough work for politicians in Albany is just beginning. They have to decide which of their colleagues may be out of work. The ritual of redistricting _ redrawing district lines for Congress and the state Legislature _ is a once-every-decade realignment of the state's political map based on population shifts. The basic rule: Power follows population. In New York, the state's total population has grown by 5.5 percent since 1990 to almost 19 million people. But that growth was not fast enough to keep up with some other states. As a result, New York will lose two of its current 31 congressional districts.

It is up to the state Legislature to determine the new boundaries. ``Obviously, there are two members of the Congress (from New York) who are not going to be serving in January 2003. Somebody's got to go away,'' said state Assemblyman William Parment, a Democrat from Jamestown in western New York. ``That causes lots of problems.'' ``I would predict, not that the outcome is guaranteed, that there would probably be one less Democrat and one less Republican'' in New York's congressional delegation after the 2002 elections, said state Sen. Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republican.

There are currently 19 Democrats and 12 Republicans in New York's delegation. Skelos and Parment are the point men on redistricting for the Legislature as co-chairmen of the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment. Instead of huge maps spread on the floor, the system used as recently as 20 years ago, Skelos and Parment are armed with high-speed computers that can redraw maps in minutes.

The two co-chairman couldn't be more different. Skelos, 53, grew up in the suburbs and has been a top lieutenant in Nassau County's powerful GOP organization for decades. He is known as an ambitious politician who is often mentioned as a possible future Senate majority leader. A lawyer, Skelos has become a skilled practitioner of legislative maneuvering Parment, 59, was raised on a dairy farm in rural Chautauqua County, has a college English degree and is a former county planner. Known as a fiscally conservative Democrat, Parment tends to be something of a loner and not averse to publicly disagreeing with the more liberal leadership of his chamber's Democratic majority. Both have been in the Legislature since 1982, Skelos spending the first two years of his tenure in the state Assembly.

Within New York state, the Census data shows heaviest growth in New York City and the suburban counties surrounding the city. The slowest growth is across upstate. That has some Democrats already trumpeting a state legislative power shift toward heavily Democratic New York City. ``This population shift to downstate means New York City will be entitled to a larger share of state Senate districts in 2002,'' said Senate Minority Leader Martin Connor, a Brooklyn Democrat. He said the city should pick up at least one of the state Senate's current 61 seats through redistricting. Not all Democrats are happy about that.

``Upstate New York is going to take a beating in this reapportionment and I've always felt the best way to win a fight is to get involved in it,'' said Parment, explaining that protecting upstate interests was one reason he sought the job as co-chairman of the redistricting task force. While the Senate, now with a 35-25 Republican advantage, may technically be able to add a 62nd seat due to population growth in the state, the size of the Assembly is fixed at 150 seats by the state Constitution. Democrats have a 99-51 edge in the Assembly.

In New York, the rules governing the redistricting ritual are expected to be largely the same as they have been for the past two go-rounds. Since 1974, when Democrats took control of the state Assembly, New York has had a divided state Legislature. Republicans have controlled the state Senate since 1965. That means Senate Republicans have generally taken the lead on redrawing district lines for the Senate while Assembly Democrats have done the same for their chamber. Each then signs off on the other's plan. They compromise on redrawing congressional lines. Skelos and Parment said they expect to hold a series of public hearings across the state in the coming months with preliminary plans from the task force coming out in the fall or early winter. They expect the Legislature to vote on the redistricting plans next spring.

They also expect lawsuits. ``You could draw the perfect plan and someone would sue,'' Skelos said. In 1992, the Legislature was sued and wound up having to redraw numerous district lines as a result. There could be a new wrinkle this year. Gov. George Pataki has requested $2 million in the new state budget to hire demographers that would allow him to play a greater role in redistricting. In the past, governors have traditionally left the matter up to the Legislature. Pataki's request has so far gotten a cold shoulder from fellow Republican Bruno and from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat. ``Obviously, I do have a role,'' Pataki said last week. ``I intend to play that role with the appropriate level of support.''



The New York Times
In Politics, the Numbers Go New York City's Way
Richard Perez-Pena
March 16, 2001

Census figures released today showing a shift in population toward New York City and away from upstate New York hold mostly good news for the city and Democrats in the redrawing of Congressional and legislative districts. But a year or more remains before it is known exactly how redistricting will play out. All sides here cautioned that there are thousands of ways to draw the lines. "I would caution against making any assumptions about who it's bad for and who it's good for," said John E. McArdle, spokesman for the Senate Republicans. "There's any number of things we can do and will do over the next year."
 
Still, some Democrats were almost gleeful, pointing to a turnabout in the historic pattern that saw political power shift away from the city and to the suburbs. According to the raw census data, the kind used to draw district lines in 1992 -- and not the more accurate adjusted data -- New York City accounted for more than two-thirds of the nearly one million people gained in population statewide from 1990 to 2000. That is likely to translate into more representation for the city in the State Senate and the Assembly, and possible gains for the Democrats, while the picture in Congress is less clear.
 
"We've had a very, very good morning," said Todd Breitbart, a census analyst for the Senate Democrats. "It means that a significantly larger part of the state's population is in areas where Democratic voters predominate." The city's share of the state population rose to 42 percent from 41 percent, equivalent to a gain of 1 seat in the 61-member State Senate and a gain of 2 seats in the 150-member Assembly. With the state expected to lose 2 of its 31 seats in the House of Representatives, the city's population is equivalent to 12.2 of 29 seats, down only slightly from 12.6 of 31. The share of population on Long Island and in Westchester County was essentially unchanged, while the Hudson Valley showed slight gains and upstate had a decline.
 
"The obvious and unhappy truth is that there will be a shift of political influence from upstate New York to the city of New York," said Assemblyman William L. Parment, a Democrat from western New York who is co-chairman of the joint legislative task force on redistricting. In the Senate, where Republicans hold a 36-to-25 majority, rising minority populations and growing Democratic voter registration will make it harder to draw safe districts for Republicans like Guy J. Velella of the Bronx and Frank Padavan of Queens, and for some of their suburban counterparts. Traditionally, the Democratic majority in the Assembly and the Republican majority in the Senate have drawn the lines in their houses without interference from each other or the governor.
 
"The picture is not exactly bleak in the Senate, but it's not lovely, either," said a Republican analyst who was involved in a past redistricting effort. But Senator Joseph L. Bruno, the Republican majority leader, said he was confident "that these districts will continue to elect a Republican majority." The hardest part of redistricting will be drawing Congressional lines, with New York slated to lose two House seats. The state's delegation is now made up of 19 Democrats and 12 Republicans. The conventional wisdom has been that the Legislature would eliminate one Republican-held seat upstate and one Democratic-held seat downstate, probably in the city.
 
Representative Amo Houghton, an upstate Republican, plans to retire, making his district the one most often mentioned for elimination. Getting rid of a downstate district would mean carving up an incumbent's district among its neighbors, leaving a member of Congress with a choice of retiring or fighting another incumbent for the seat. Any number of candidates have been rumored to be likely targets, including Representative Joseph Crowley, a Queens Democrat who is the newest House member from the city, and Representative Eliot L. Engel of the Bronx, who has been at odds with the party leadership in that county.
 
But two factors could complicate a trade of a Republican seat for a Democratic one. First, Gov. George E. Pataki, a Republican, has signaled that unlike his predecessors, he plans to take an active role in redistricting. He has not stated his goals for the process, but he is sure to want to push House district lines in ways that favor Republicans. The other complication is math. New York City's population gains make it harder, though by no means impossible, to eliminate a House district in the city. It would mean shifting suburban districts to take in portions of the city, making them more Democratic. That could meet with opposition in both parties, depending on the districts.

New York Newsday
Editorial: New Census, Old Politics = New Districts
December 31, 2000

The first figures from the 2000 census are out this week, and from New York's point of view they're damaging: Two years from now, the state will lose two seats in the House of Representatives. This means even more political friction than usual in Albany between now and 2002 as state legislators conduct a game of musical chairs for House incumbents. When they draw new congressional district lines, it's not a pretty sight. Even though the Census Bureau counted almost 19 million New Yorkers this year-5.5 percent more than it did 10 years ago-New York is losing seats because the country as a whole grew much faster.
 
The official nationwide count, 281.4 million, is a 13-percent increase over 1990. And though every one of the 50 states had a population increase, hordes of Americans continued to gravitate toward the Sun Belt, as they've done for decades now. As a result, Pennsylvania, like New York, will have to give up two of its House seats in the 2002 election. Eight other states, five of them bordering the Great Lakes, will lose a seat apiece. Meanwhile, Arizona, Texas, Florida and Georgia will each gain two seats, and four other Southern and Western states will add one each.
 
The conventional wisdom is that this population tilt toward the South and West will help Republicans. Could be. States that voted for George W. Bush last month will gain seven House seats. But it's definitely not a lock, because congressional district lines must be drawn by state legislators and approved by governors. Although Bush won Georgia, for example, Democrats who control state government will decide how the two new districts there will fit in with the existing 11. Here in New York, we may be more concerned today about shoveling out the driveway than we are about what the composition of Congress might be after the 2002 election, and that's understandable.
 
When people choose to leave the Snow Belt for sunnier venues, there's not much those who stay behind can do about it. The census takers have spoken, and if our state's House delegation must shrink from 31 to 29, so be it. But that doesn't mean we have to like the way the State Legislature normally goes about redistricting in New York. Since Republicans rule in the state's Senate and Democrats dominate the Assembly, each house traditionally draws its own lines to suit itself and the other body agrees to accept them. So each House's first concern is protecting the party in power there, and a close second is protecting incumbents of whatever party. Providing a genuine choice for voters isn't even in the running.
 
The upshot is that New York state legislators seem more likely to die in office than they are to be voted out. No wonder the idea of term limits for legislators has held appeal for some exasperated voters. Although the dynamic is a little different for redrawing congressional lines, this year most Albany-watchers expect a deal to erase a Republican district upstate and a Democratic one in New York City.
 
The detailed census numbers aren't available yet, but Long Island is likely to lose most of Democratic Rep. Gary Ackerman's Queens-Nassau-Suffolk district. And subject to the federal law that forbids dilution of minority voters' strength, Queens deserves to have more representatives it can call its own instead of sharing them with three other boroughs, Long Island and even Westchester. Because equal population standards for congressional districts are very strict, some will inevitably stray from county lines. But when the district lines are drawn, the voters' interests should get no less consideration than those of parties and incumbents.

New York Newsday
Reapportionment a Task Few Relish
December 29, 2000

Within the state Legislature, few jobs are considered more distasteful than the once-a-decade task of redrawing the state's internal political boundaries. After the 1990 census, when the state lost three congressional seats because of New York's shrinking population, most incumbents escaped relatively unscathed, thanks to eight of their colleagues who decided to retire. Still, designing the new lines was so contentious that the Legislature blew a half-dozen deadlines, and a court-appointed federal master had to step in. Remaking the districts for the state Assembly and Senate were only marginally easier.
 
"It's stressful for all of us," said Assemb. Ron Canestrari (D- Albany), co-chairman of the Legislature's task force on reapportionment. "We've been accustomed to our districts as they have been, so it's not a pleasant experience." This time, lawmakers only have to get rid of two congressional seats. But there is an added political dimension, as Gov. George Pataki is expected to be more involved than was his predecessor, Mario Cuomo. The process is not expected to begin until this spring, when the Census Bureau releases a breakdown of population shifts within the state.
 
It will not get really intense until the lawmakers' deadline in spring, 2002. Already, however, almost everyone has a general idea of who will be the most vulnerable, given the population drops in western New York and the growth in Suffolk County and Queens. The new districts must reflect these shifts so that each elected official represents equal numbers of residents. But the Legislature's plan also must meet the Voting Rights Act's mandate for appropriate minority representation in New York City. In Albany, there will be great pressure to protect as many incumbents as possible.
 
The common wisdom says that, with the state's congressional delegation split 19 Democrats to 12 Republicans, each party will sacrifice one seat by placing two incumbents from the same party in one district and letting them duke it out. But Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), co-chairman of the Legislature's task force, said legislative leaders may instead choose to have two "fair fights," in which Democratic and Republican incumbents face off against each other. Skelos said "this will be a leadership decision" between Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Brunswick) and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan). But the balance of power within the Legislature, with each party controlling one chamber, is thrown off by the third player: Pataki, who ultimately signs or vetoes the Legislature's plans.
 
The only participant who is not directly affected by redistricting, Pataki, a Republican, may choose to trade his support for some other law he wants, which could be tangentially related or not at all. Pataki said he did not intend to dwell on the topic during this session. But most lawmakers said that it is hard not to be distracted by decisions that could complicate or even end their careers. Bruno said: "Many times, issues like that that are totally political politicize a lot of other things." Staff writer Thai Jones contributed to this story.

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