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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

Due to what appears to be a colossal error on the part of the Nassau County Assessor’s office, or perhaps an errant interpretation of state law, 1,100 military veterans and Gold Star families in Farmingdale will have to wait for their tax break until next year.

 

The Farmingdale School District is among several local school districts that recently approved resolutions extending the exemption to local veterans, even though budgets and Albany’s tax cap make it a tough choice. Earlier this year, school board trustees uanimously voted to provide a school tax exemption for veterans living in the district, starting with the 2014-15 school year. 

In the aftermath of a fatal carbon monoxide leak at Legal Seafoods in Huntington, the Village of Farmingdale passed new legislation requiring all residential and commercial properties carry a carbon monoxide detector. 

 

“The whole idea behind this is public safety,” said Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand.

 

On April 7, Farmingdale Trustees unanimously voted to amend village code as a proactive measure to prevent future harm from carbon monoxide poisioning.   


Sports

The Farmingdale Devils  U10 Travel Baseball team defeated the West Islip Gold team 11-6 to win the Bayport Bash baseball tournament last weekend. The Devils swept both games on Saturday to advance to the championship game. In the championship The Devils struck for four runs in the first inning. Nick Napolitano and Nick Disanti  started it off with singles and were driven home by Gavin Weinstock’s 200 foot blast off the left field wall. Timmy Purack and Matt Brandimarte followed with run scoring singles and the Devils were on their way to their first title of 2014. Nicholas Napolitano pitched three solid inning for the win. The Devils will now compete in the Half Hollow Invitational Spring Tournament. 

 

— Submitted by The Farmingdale Devils

The Dalers Boys Varsity Lacrosse team (3-2) are putting their best foot forward, after losing two games this season.  

 

On March 25, the Dalers took their home turf to face the Lynbrook Owls. During the game, the Dalers Tom McPartland and Chris Brown each scored two goals, while goalies Matt Deluca and Scott dePalmer racked up a total of 11 saves. Despite the valiant effort, the Dalers lost to Lynbrook High School 11-7. 

 

The Dalers are currently 3-2 this season. Their next game will be held on April 17 at Long Beach. 


Calendar

Women's Club of Farmingdale - April 17

Maundy Thursday - April 17

Good Friday - April 18


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com