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Redistricting Rage

Residents incensed over redistricting map proposed by Republican members of redistricting commission; Republican commissioners refuse to respond

The hundreds who gathered in Mineola for the last meeting of the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission on Jan. 3 didn’t throw any tomatoes at the front of the room, but some came close. For more than four hours, approximately 50 speakers lambasted the map proposed by the Republican side of the commission, generally characterizing it as a transparent power play with no consideration for the public good or even the law. The Democratic commissioners were not completely spared the public’s ire, but most of the anger was directed at the Republicans; the Democrats’ map, proposed at nearly the last minute on Dec. 31, was praised, although somewhat tepidly, as a fair plan.

Considering that hundreds of angry people were crammed into the Legislative Chambers demanding answers from the Republican commissioners, who by and large didn’t respond, it’s remarkable that tempers didn’t flare more.

Many speakers questioned the legitimacy of the entire redistricting process. Democratic commissioner Bonnie Garone pointed out that the public did not get the series of hearings on the proposed maps that they were promised, and that the sole Jan. 3 hearing was scheduled at the last minute, without adequate notice, during the holidays. She characterized the entire process as “a charade.”

Henry Boitel of Rockville Center brought up the issue of whether the commission’s work was being properly documented. According to Boitel, he filed a request for documents from the commission under the Freedom of Information Act, only to receive very few, leading him to believe that documentation was essentially being kept off the record. Boitel, one of the few to criticize both sides of the commission, requested that they both preserve all documentation used in creating their maps, because “the courts will want to see it.”

Non-voting Chairman Francis X. Moroney presented the Republican side and denied claims from the Democrats and various speakers that it was inappropriate for the non-voting chair to present the map in place of the commissioners who had supposedly drawn it.

Repeatedly the question was asked: Why does the map split so many well-established communities into two, three, and sometimes even four legislative districts?

Laurie Beth Schwartz of Saddle Rock said that under the new map, most of her neighbors will no longer be in her legislative district, forcing her to “get in a boat” in order to talk to people represented by the same legislator. Furthermore, she contended that this map would make it much harder for legislators to even do their jobs. “A legislator who has to come to a PTA meeting, or a village hall meeting, now has to go to three or four or five different communities just to hear the issues that affect the people that he or she is supposed to be representing,” said Schwartz.

Howard Weitzman, former mayor of Great Neck Estates and former Nassau County Comptroller, claimed that the Republican map creates “the most bald-faced partisan power grab that has ever been seen in the history of Nassau County.”

Moroney insisted that the map was fair, incumbent-blind and would hold up under legal scrutiny. Several lawyers disagreed. 

Lucia Gomez-Jimenez of La Fuente, one of the many organizations that have joined together as part of the Nassau County United Redistricting Coalition (which has presented its own map for the legislature’s consideration), noted that just because the map was formed with population data from the U.S. census does not mean it isn’t a blatant manipulation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. “We need to stop just looking at mere numbers and statistics. The reality is that census data can be manipulated in many different ways.”

Following the comments, commissioners voted on the Republican map (neither the Democrats’ map nor any others were officially presented). With only 5 of the 10 commissioners in favor, it didn’t pass.

As a result, after seven months and $500,000, the commission is officially presenting no recommendation to the county legislature. Nonetheless, many expect the Republican map (or even the nearly as divisive Republican map drawn in 2011) to be voted upon by the legislature. Many speakers said that while the Republicans may think they have the muscle to push the map through, it won’t be implemented without a fight.

“I don’t want to sue you,” said civil rights attorney Fred Brewington, taking a dramatic pause. “But I will.”

News

More than 2,000 Long Islanders enjoyed the festivities at Captree State Park as Assemblyman Joseph Saladino hosted the ninth annual Marine and Outdoor Recreation Expo on Sept. 15.

Attendees learned about sustainable sources of energy as well as ways to protect the planet, especially the island’s marine environment. There were demonstrations in camping, boating, water safety, renewable energy, wildlife and environmental education, fly fishing, arts and crafts, face painting, clowns, touch tanks, ballon animals and plenty of rock and roll.

The founders of the popular Facebook group “Massapequa Moms,” a ‘virtual living room with 6,700 people,’ are leveraging their social media power to create a new discount loyalty card good all over Long Island—including, they hope, in Farmingdale.

With a hugely popular Facebook community, co-founders Dawn Boyle Kostakis and Stephanie Hartman wanted to “figure out a way that we could help the consumer and the business owner at the same time; keeping commerce going, keeping it all local and having the people get a little bang for their buck,” said Kostakis. They wanted to serve more than just Massapequa, too, and the Long Island Loyalty card was born.


Sports

Farmingdale squeaks by Massapequa

The rivalry between the Farmingdale Dalers and the Massapequa Chiefs is a big one. So big that the school districts and the Nassau County Police Department had to take extra precautions to maintain security. Not everyone who wanted to see this game at Masspequa High School were allowed access to the game. In the past, there was some unruly behavior. So, if you were from Farmingdale you parked on the right side of the school and from Massapequa you were on the left. The stands on both side were full and hundreds standing along the fence to watch this game.

The Chiefs would score first in the first quarter with a 9-yard run by Paul Dilena for a touchdown. The Dalers had some problems moving the ball down field until Daler Danny Mckeon intercepted a pass and ran it back into the Chiefs side of the field. This would set up a 6-yard run for a touchdown for Michael Outing who had 19 carries for 84 yards. With the score tied 7-7, Zach Kolodny kicked a 22-yard field goal to put the Dalers up 10-7 shortly before  halftime and the heavy rain that followed.

Town sports shifts to hockey

It’s almost time to hit the ice again.

The Town of Oyster Bay Youth Ice Hockey Program will hold its registration on Monday, Oct. 6 and Wednesday, Oct. 8, from 6 to 9 p.m. on both nights. Registration takes place at the Town of Oyster Bay Ice Skating Center in Bethpage.

“The Youth Ice Hockey Program provides youngsters, ages three to 13, with the opportunity to hone their skating and hockey skills under the guidance of ice hockey coaches,” Councilman Joe Pinto stated. “The highly regarded program has earned it recognition by the NHL, which has partnered with the Town to promote hockey programming and youth enrichment through its ‘Hockey is For Everyone’ initiative.”


Calendar

Junior Varsity Football At Baldwin High School

Saturday, September 27

Girls Varsity Tennis At Malverne High School

Tuesday, September 30

Boys Varsity Volleyball Versus Massapequa High School

Wednesday, October 1



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