The Bronx has begun speaking as one voice, borough politicians have been noticing. But that will all disappear if Common Cause had its way.
|Proposed Bronx Assembly districts by Common Cause.|
Bronx Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz is highly critical of proposed redistricting lines drawn by Common Cause, a government watchdog group. He says the lines make things worse for the Bronx; it would dilute the Bronx's ability to influence government, both at the state and federal level, he says.
His northwest Bronx district, currently all of which is in the borough, would become a 'Hispanic district' and expand into northern Manhattan. Another district would also go into Manhattan, and two Assembly districts would reach into Westchester (see the photo, right).
He also rips into the Congressional lines, calling them "absurd."
Their “reform” proposal would give the Bronx parts of four Congressional districts, yet none would be totally within the borders of the Bronx. One only has to look at the Brooklyn-Queens-Manhattan district they drew for Nydia Velasquez to realize that racial- and ethnic-based gerrymandering in their plan trumped the neighborhood integrity that they claim is so important.
Jump below for the full statement, as well as photos of the Congressional districts in the Bronx, the state Senate picture and Nydia Velasquez's doozy of a district.
From Assemblyman Dinowitz:
The definition of “reform” is “to make changes in order to improve it.” Based upon that definition, the proposed new district lines suggested by Common Cause is actually anti-reform because their lines, at least in the Bronx, make things worse.
Currently, the Bronx has 11 assembly districts, all wholly contained in the Bronx. The Common Cause Reform plan calls for the Bronx to have 9 whole districts and four partial districts, two shared with Manhattan and two with Westchester. Currently there are no assembly districts that are partially in the City and partially outside. Common Cause would create at least two such districts. Their claim is that their plan keeps neighborhoods, such as Norwood, together, but it needlessly divides boroughs and cities. What it does is to divide the Bronx and dilute its political power. My own district, which includes the communities of Riverdale, Kingsbridge, Van Cortlandt Village, Norwood, Woodlawn and Wakefield, would instead include Riverdale, Kingsbridge, Van Cortlandt Village, Woodlawn, Marble Hill and Inwood. The geniuses at Common Cause decided that the community of Woodlawn has more in common with Inwood than with neighboring Wakefield.
Their proposed Congressional lines are even more absurd. Currently, the Bronx contains Congressman Serrano’s entire district and approximately half of Congressmen Engel’s and Crowley’s districts. Their “reform” proposal would give the Bronx parts of four Congressional districts, yet none would be totally within the borders of the Bronx. One only has to look at the Brooklyn-Queens-Manhattan district they drew for Nydia Velasquez to realize that racial- and ethnic-based gerrymandering in their plan trumped the neighborhood integrity that they claim is so important.
I'm certain this anti-reform plan is a non-starter, undoubtedly drawn up in someone's back room without serious public input, but it does raise some real issues as to the definition of "reform." Mereley saying you're for reform doesn't make it so.
And here are the proposed state Senate lines, where the Bronx only has two senators entirely within the borough:
Velasquez's new district (right), compared with her old one. Not much difference, but it's still poorly drawn.