One of the frequent laments of the bipartisan redistricting committee that reapportioned the Ulster County Legislature last year was that it didn’t have enough time to do its work. Census figures came out in March and lines had to be finalized no later than early May. Through gnashed teeth, the committee got it done.
The special committees putting together the new state legislature and congressional districts have no such excuse. Census figures came out almost a year ago, and it’s still a mad dash to the finish-up work on congressional districts. Preliminary and highly partisan plans for state reapportionment were released a few weeks ago.
With the understanding that reapportionment as a public-interest issue ranks somewhere between trimming nose hairs and picking feet, let’s cut to the chase. A special court-appointed master — he or she will have absolute and arbitrary power — will draw lines in time for a June 5 presidential primary.
Cutting to the chase sometimes means getting ahead of current events, so let’s recap. Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for a bipartisan independent commission to draw lines when he ran in 2010. Most state senators and only a handful of assemblymen took the pledge and once safely elected, most reneged. The plan for reapportionment of the state legislature the solons came up with was immediately rejected by Cuomo and good government groups as blatantly self-serving. Which leads to the rhetorical question: aren’t they all?
Some elements in the state assembly thought they might placate Cuomo by packaging the congressional plan with the state legislature plan. Congressional reapportionment is not considered self-serving since members of Congress don’t draw up the plan. That they spend substantial sums on lobbyists to influence the process is only business as usual in Albany.
Bottom line: Cuomo has to veto this bill, and neither house of the legislature seems of a mind to attempt to override the governor.
Enter the master.
The good news is that we should have a plan, fairly drawn by an impartial party, sometime in mid-April.
Hey, it’s democracy in action. Sausage, anyone?
I consider myself a law-abiding citizen. I drive around the speed limit, put money in the meters, try to stop at stop signs, slow down around schools, never park in handicapped spaces. Good Citizen Reynolds hadn’t had had a parking ticket of any kind in several years — until last Friday afternoon. Within a space of 40 minutes, I got two, at $20 each. One on Wall Street, the other near Kingston Hospital.
I was guilty in both cases. The first was for parking at one of those sidewalk medians for a few minutes. I thought flashing the lights on my car might save me. The second was at an expired meter just before 4 p.m. in Midtown. Like who works at City Hall after 3 o’clock on Fridays?
I’m not protesting; the $40 check was in the mail that afternoon. I enclosed a petulant note to the mayor on leftover Ron Polacco stationary, hoping it might attract his attention. The mayor, as we all know by now, is a very, very busy person, but I think I see his fine hand behind the scenes.
Shayne Gallo inherited the worst police scandal since rogue Kingston cops were burglarizing stores in the mid-Fifties. (A number were convicted.) Gallo himself has handled questionable activities in the fire department. If there ever was a time for a law-and-order administration, this is it.