Senator Jack Martins pledged to pass redistricting reform yet refuses to make good on his word; now his fellow Republicans in the Nassau County Legislature are following his lead.
New York, NY – Bill Samuels, founder of the New Roosevelt Initiative, today blasted Nassau County Republicans for violating voters’ rights by gerrymandering County Legislative districts, and once more called on Senator Jack Martins to keep his word by finally standing up for real redistricting reform.
Republicans in the Nassau County Legislature, led by Majority Leader Peter Schmitt, unveiled a partisan redistricting plan in late April. The plan, which was drafted behind closed doors by Republican County Attorney John Ciampoli, passed the Rules Committee of the Nassau County Legislature on a party-line vote.
In examining the Nassau GOP’s proposed lines, Samuels found that the plan is clearly intended to benefit the current Majority by dividing communities and creating convoluted districts that not only defy common sense, but also diminish a community’s ability to choose their representatives.
“This is the core of what is wrong with gerrymandering, and why Nassau’s GOP should be ashamed,” said Samuels. “When communities and constituencies are unfairly divided, their right to fair representation is diminished. It is a fundamentally un-American attempt to undermine democracy and harm the rights of voters.”
A map of the GOP’s proposed districts clearly shows elongated, misshapen districts that cut apart neighborhoods for partisan gain. Yet the plan is being foisted upon a public that had no input into its creation, and will have only one public hearing on Monday, May 9 which is expected to be little more than a show trial before Nassau County Legislative Republicans pass the plan as is.
Samuels also criticized freshman GOP State Senator Jack Martins, who pledged during his campaign to support independent redistricting, only to break this promise shortly after being elected.
“Senator Martins has an opportunity to redeem his tarnished image by speaking out strongly against Nassau’s partisan redistricting process, coming back to the core reform values he once pledged to support,” explained Samuels. “We are calling upon Senator Martins to demonstrate some leadership on the issue of redistricting by publicly opposing the current gerrymander proposed by his fellow Republicans in the Nassau County legislature.”
“Less than two months ago New Roosevelt Initiative joined more than sixty activists to rally for redistricting reform in Nassau County,” explained Samuels. “We will continue to demand that Senator Martins keep his word on the pledge he made to Mayor Koch to pass independent redistricting based on the 2010 census.”
Samuels will be leading another coalition of more than a dozen activist groups for a second rally for redistricting reform in Republican Senator Greg Ball’s district on Saturday, May 14, 2011.