Written by Karen Gellender Friday, 11 January 2013 00:00
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.”
Wednesday, 04 December 2013 00:00
Farmingdale School District officials are alerting parents to review safety concerns with their children, after last week, when a high school student reported that an unidentified male was following her while she walked home from school.
The individual, who had followed the student down Lincoln Street, also attempted to have a dialogue with the student, who entered her home safely and without incident.
The following day, both the parent and the student reported the incident to school administrators. In response, Farmingdale High School Principal Glen Zakian sent a letter to parents in the district, alerting them to the incident.
Saturday, 30 November 2013 00:00
Over the weekend, people filled the streets of downtown Farmingdale, to bring in the merriest of holiday’s in fashion... with the annual holiday parade, presented by the Farmingdale Chamber of Commerce.
“Saturday was very well attended and the parade ended up competing with the FHS Championship game,” said Chamber President Beth Mignone. “The Chamber received a lot of emails asking to have the time of the parade changed because they wanted to be at both events... which shows you how close the town really is, and how involved our residents are.”
Thursday, 28 November 2013 00:00
The Farmingdale Dalers, ranked first in the division (11-0), came out to defend their title as Nassau County champions against the no. 3 seed, the Massapequa Chiefs (8-3), who attempted to take it away. The Chiefs, after losing to the Dalers 33-8 in week 4, would of liked nothing better then to defeat the Dalers in front of 4,000 people at Hofstra and grab the title. The rivalry was all the talk this week and the Nassau County Police had extra Officers all around the stadium at Hofstra.
Thursday, 21 November 2013 00:00
The Giants faced off against the Jets in the girl’s grades 9 – 12 Super Bowl last Sunday. The two teams were evenly matched, having split the two regular season games. But it turned out to be the Giants’ night, winning by a score of 18-7. The Giants played short-handed all season, with a roster of only five; and all five girls contributed greatly to this victory. The Giants took the opening drive and scored a touchdown on a short pass to Kat ‘Safety Dance’ Krieg who made a good move to get free and run it in from 25 yards out. It looked like the Jets were going to tie it when the fleet-footed Myasa Evans broke free on an end run but Jessica ‘Steady’ Scire came all the way across the field and made a touchdown saving flag. A few plays later Hailey ‘I’m retiring’ Lospitalier intercepted in the end zone to thwart the Jets’ scoring chance. The Giants capitalized when they drove the full field and scored a second touchdown on a short pass to Krieg. The Giants expanded their lead in the second half to 18-0 on another short pass to Lospitalier. This followed a beautiful bomb pass from QB Theresa ‘Air’ DeSantis to Krieg who was run down just short of the goal. The defense played outstanding, especially Hanna ‘Wild Girl’ Berge who made several diving, touchdown saving, flags. DeSantis was on target all night long, finishing with three touchdown passes and many completions which helped control the ball and the clock. A well-deserved win by the girls against an outstanding team.