Drawing a jurisdiction's district lines is a central and important task in a district-based election system -- the principal American form -- because the nature of districts often dictates the electability of candidates, if not the actual results of elections. The people who draw these lines therefore have a great deal of power over who will represent each district. It is thus no surprise that one of the biggest debates in election law, both within the academia and the courts, is about policing redistricting to ensure that it is fair (J.Fromer). So, you have now an initial redistricting plan by the Mayor of New Rochelle and the Democratic Party who seek to implement it without public input or much less consideration by reasonable people. Mayor Bramson, as noted in the initial presentation and the public discussion this week, is not willing to entertain an amendment or addition to his redistricting map. It is his way or the highway.Read more
The New Rochelle City Council held a public hearing last night on plans to redraw the lines which carve up the City into six council districts. The event, which became contentious at times, was largely a matter of political theater with the various sides jockeying for position in a redistricting battle which is all but certain to end up in the Federal courts as happened previously in the wake of the 2000 census. The City was required at that time to create a "black opportunity district" to give African-American residents of New Rochelle an edge in determining the outcome of the election in what is now District 3. The large growth in the Latino population in New Rochelle since 2000 has led to calls for a similar district for Latino voters in what may become District 1 or District 4 depending on where the lines are drawn.Read more
On the eve of the City Council Public Hearing on Redistricting in the wake of the 2010 census, the New Rochelle Republican Party has released its plan. Earlier in the day the New Rochelle Citizens Committee released its own Redistricting plan. The Democrats released their plan on April 8th.
District 1 13,099 31% Hispanic, 27% Hispanic 18+
District 2 12,878
District 3 12, 530 >50% NH Blk, >50% 18+ NH Blk
District 4 13,670 56% Hispanic, 52% Hispanic 18+
District 5 12, 414
District 6 12, 471
For the uninitiated, the Democrats and Republicans will all talk about their desire to be "fair" and follow Federal guidelines for redistricting but the real goal is achieve a political advantage within Federal guidelines. The Democrats (the majority) will say their plan is fair and offer to make minor (i.e. meaningless) concessions. The Republicans (the minority) will say that plan is unfair. In the end the GOP will try to avoid running on lines drawn by Democrats by seeking to have a Federal judge to intervene and the Democrats will try to run on the lines they have drawn by pushing through their plan on a party line vote and using City resources to defend the adopted (i.e. Bramson) plan by keeping it out of court. The key players will be minority groups in New Rochelle (i.e. Latinos, African-Americans) who will be most likely to have legal standing to file a lawsuit. Of course, it is always possible that all sides will come to some sort of compromise but that seems unlikely given the extreme nature of the Democrats plan which radically alters District's 1, 2 and 4 and impacts Latino and African-American voting blocks.Read more
(New Rochelle, NY) -- An independently researched redistricting map for the election of New Rochelle's six council members is to be unveiled at a special session at City Hall, 515 North Avenue, New Rochelle, NY tomorrow night (Wednesday night) at 7:30 pm.
"We promised the citizens of New Rochelle a fair, non-partisan map and redistricting plan and we have got it!" claimed Mark McLean, chairman of the ad hoc/bi-partisan group, Concerned New Rochelle Citizens' Redistricting Committee (CNRCRC) after their Tuesday meeting. "It is logical, fair, balanced and partial to no single political faction." Referring to a plan issued 10 days ago by the City Council that expressed the will of its Democratic majority, he continued, "Our CNRCRC plan is better; it has geometric conciseness and demographic precision and respects the 1973 Voting Rights Act and the 2003 U.S. District Court consent decree signed by parties to the previous New Rochelle case."
The chairman was confident that his rendering will help the City Council review its own previously-issued plan and help "correct several flaws." Chief among them: a) insufficient provision of a mandated African-American opportunity district, b) "disregard for the rights of African-Americans and Spanish-speaking Americans generally in the growing precincts of New Rochelle's central core and points south," he continued. McLean said he was eager to discuss the map with everyone involved including office holders, city hall staff, and any demographic consultants specified by council. "Nobody wants the process to fail or to be lost in frivolous bickering. We just want it to be fair and transparent to everyone."Read more
Outraged that a group of New Rochelle residents made critical comments about his Redistricting Plan during last night's Citizens to be Heard portion of the City Council Meeting, New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson bolted the stage to angrily confront startled members of the ad hoc Concerned New Rochelle Citizens' Redistricting Committee as they made their way out of the meeting.
"Don't piss on my leg then try to shake my hand", Bramson hissed at one committee member who attempted to greet the Mayor as he approached the group. A woman who overheard the remark was stunned by the Mayor's language.
The notoriously belligerent Bramson was especially upset over criticism of his redistricting plan contained in a press release distributed by the group earlier in the day.Read more
While all of tonight's commentators were critical of the council majority's redistricting plan, the overall turnout was a discouraging sight for citizens concerned about New Rochelle's future political legitimacy. The inattention of the city's minority communities was positively "deafening!"
Concerned New Rochelle Citizens' Redistricting Committee chair Mark McLean, Assemblyman Ron Tocci and Mayor Len Paduano presented a blistering critique of the Democrat-authored map. The most pointed objections concerned: the contrived layout of several districts, particularly number 6 whose "reach" southward through the core of the City of New Rochelle recalled to some in attendance the famous "Salamander"-shaped Massachusetts legislative borough of Elbridge Gerry which gave the corrupt practice its name - Gerrymandering; the hurried and careless schedule of public outreach/input which seems inadequate to the task of inviting and facilitating citizen involvement, and most important; the careful exclusion of African-Americans and Spanish-speaking Americans from districts 5 and 6 and the consequent concentration of same in districts 3 and 4, respectively.Read more
New Rochelle, NY, April 11, 2011 - The New Rochelle City Council's just-released 2011 redistricting plan is "all wrong, from the get-go" stated Concerned New Rochelle Citizens' Redistricting Committee (CNRCRC) chairman Mark McLean. After seeing the council's map and the Mayor's published statements in local media, the leader claimed that the entire document "ignores demographic changes, enshrines past inadequacies" following the release of the latest US Census data foe 2011.
After a panel of CNRCRC members studied the council's own approved map and policy statements issued from Mayor Noam Bramson's office, the ad hoc, independent group announced its opinion and offered delivery of its own outline of the six New Rochelle councilmanic districts within a week. McLean stated, "This map is incorrect and insufficient on numerous grounds; the published boundaries are: illogical, ignore population realities and not contiguous. Most important, they deprive minority interests of the rights enshrined in the United States Constitution's First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, the 1973 Voting Rights Act as confirmed in the 2003 decision and consent decree of the US District Court."Read more