Written by Linda Portney Goldstein: email@example.com Friday, 01 June 2012 00:00
The big story on the evening of Monday, May 28 was how few people were interested enough in the town redistricting process to attend the meeting of the Temporary Committee on Redistricting for the Town of North Hempstead.
At the May 7 meeting of the redistricting committee, the purpose of which was to solicit public comment about the redistricting process, a small but vocal group of residents, including two members of the local chapters of the League of Women Voters, accused the town of failing to properly notify residents of the meeting and a lack of transparency in the proceedings. The committee responded by scheduling a second meeting to solicit public comment and followed with an aggressive campaign to inform voters about the meeting on Monday, May 21. The effort included 65,000 reverse 311 calls, of which approximately 45,000 were answered, and press releases in all local newspapers, Newsday and on the town’s website and television station. In addition, the proceedings were web cast.
The result of the massive and expensive effort to publicize the meeting and invite public involvement was an increase from 12 attendees at the first meeting to 35 Monday night, and 12 people watching the web simulcast. Only five speakers came to the podium and most complimented the committee for their efforts.
When asked about the poor turnout, 35 out of 227,000 residents, North Hempstead Public Information Officer Sid Nathan said, “Most town residents expect their local government to come up with a process that meets legal standards and to draw lines that have a minimal impact on their everyday lives. They don’t want us to fight over it, they don’t want us to waste money on it – they want us to get it done in a professional, sensible manner. That is what we are doing and, ultimately, that is what will be done.”
The Temporary Committee on Redistricting is comprised of eight members and a chairperson. Each council member appointed one person to the committee and Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman appointed three. The committee is charged with analyzing town council district boundaries following the 2010 census and proposing changes to the districts so that they conform to town election laws and federal guidelines. The committee’s report is due June 15. The recommendations of the committee are not binding on the town council, which can accept, reject or modify the committee’s proposal.
The next meeting of the committee will be a work session on June 4, at 2 p.m., at Clinton G. Martin Park in New Hyde Park. The public can observe the session. Written comments will be accepted until June 1. They can be emailed to feedback@north hempstead.gov or addressed to: Temporary Redistricting Committee, 220 Plandome Road, Manhasset, NY 11030.