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URGENT: Tell Your Legislator that We Need a SPECIAL SESSION for Redistricting Reform Now!

Ask your Senator and Assemblymember to Create an Independent Process in Advance of the 2012 Elections

With various issues on the floor this past legislative session, redistricting reform unfortunately remained unvisited and unresolved. Although many legislators campaigned on redistricting reform last fall or committed to addressing the issue in 2011, redistricting reform has not yet been achieved. Session may be over for the year, but we are now calling for a special legislative session in the next month dedicated to redistricting reform. 
Governor Cuomo has reiterated his pledge to veto lines that are not independent or are partisan.  He also stated recently that he did not believe that the current body responsible for drawing lines, LATFOR, could be non-partisan.  We need you to put the pressure on the legislature to come back to Albany to tackle some unfinished business - redistricting reform.  Take action now by writing to your Senator and Assemblymember and asking them to call for a special session today.

To learn more and to take action, visit Citizens United of New York.

Cuomo urged to create a redistricting panel

From Newsday:

Bill Samuels, head of the New Roosevelt Initiative, which advocates "nonpartisan" redistricting, is set to call on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to appoint an advisory panel that could prod the existing Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR) to avoid gerrymandering.

"By appointing his own commission, Governor Cuomo could allow ample time for a statewide public debate on an appropriate redistricting map," Samuels says.

"Such a map will provide a contrast to LATFOR’s map, which could be delivered as late as Spring 2012. Having an appropriate map already in the public domain will also speed up the process by providing guidance to the courts in the event the governor vetoes LATFOR’s map," says a statement from his organization. It continues:

“While I applaud Governor Cuomo’s successful campaign on the historic same sex marriage bill, he needs to apply the same type of creative governing and strategy to passing an independent and non-gerrymandered redistricting map. For fair redistricting we need an open debate among the governor, the legislature, good government groups, local communities and the public....

Inmates key in redistricting issue

From Times Union:

Groups say law broken if state counts inmates where they are jailed
Published 12:03 a.m., Tuesday, July 12, 2011

ALBANY -- Good-government and civil rights groups charge New York's commission on legislative redistricting will break a 2010 law if it counts inmates where they are jailed.

The legislative commission, known as LATFOR, held its first meeting last week in Albany and announced it will for now ignore a 2010 law -- passed when Democrats controlled the Senate, Assembly and Executive Mansion -- that requires inmates be counted at their last known address.

The current law tends to inflate population figures in rural upstate districts, often at the expense of downstate cities. Senate Republicans, including Betty Little of Queensbury, are challenging the 2010 law in court.

Oh, Is That the Law?

From New York Times:

There are so many things wrong with New York State’s self-dealing redistricting process. Time to add one more to the list: One of the first decisions made by the bipartisan mapmaking committee — made up of two state senators, two members of the Assembly and two politically connected experts — was to violate a new state law requiring that prisoners be counted in their home districts, not where they are serving time.

Each election district is supposed to have about the same number of potential voters. That has always been a problem in traditionally Republican areas upstate. So, in a typically corrupt Albany agreement, the legislative mapmakers have long counted prisoners in these districts, even though inmates can’t vote.

Last year, when Democrats controlled all three branches of government, they passed a law to end prison gerrymandering. Republicans sued, but the case is still in its early stages. The redistricting panel — the Legislative Advisory Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment — has decided to ignore the law while the Republicans’ suit goes forward.

As lawmakers draw their districts, and New York’s Congressional maps, they have access to a large bag of tricks to keep themselves and their favorites in power. But this one isn’t just shameless. It’s flat-out illegal.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has long promised to veto any electoral maps that are politically skewed and not created by an independent group. This group is certainly not independent, and the skewing has already begun. He should have his veto pen ready.        


 Land Banks Will Revitalize Communities by Allowing Localities to Redevelop Abandoned Properties


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed a law allowing municipalities to create land banks to convert vacant properties into uses that support community revitalization.


Land banks are local entities authorized to take control and redevelop vacant or abandoned properties to where they can better serve the public interest. With many Upstate municipalities suffering from an overabundance in vacant and abandoned properties due to population losses, land banks will give cities and counties a new tool to rebuild communities and foster local economic development.


“Land banks will finally give local authorities the much-needed ability to take community redevelopment into their own hands,” Governor Cuomo said. “Abandoned buildings and properties have brought blight and desolation to many communities. This legislation will allow for new economic development projects and improve neighborhoods across New York state. I first proposed the creation of land banks in my urban agenda as a way to transform our struggling urban communities. I thank Senator Valesky, Assemblyman Hoyt, and the Legislature for their attention to this issue and working to pass this bill.”


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