Thursday, February 16, 2012

NEW YORK ANALYSIS OF POLICY & GOVERNMENT


VOL. III #6 February 16, 2012

ELECTED OFFICIALS VIOLATE THEIR REDISTRICTING PLEDGE

Elected officials have united--in an ironic display of bipartisanship--in their shared goal of closing the electoral process to the citizenry at large. In an effort to insure that meaningful competition remains absent from electoral politics, the district lines for state senate and assembly districts have been drawn without any regard to the needs of the voters.

Eager to gain the title of good-government officials, candidates in the last election signed onto former NYC Mayor Ed Koch's "Heroes of Reform" movement and sincerely pledged to support nonpartisan redistricting. Obviously, the word of an incumbent eager to retain power wasn't worth much.

The proposed redistricting scheme violates the pledge that almost every current state senator and state assembly member made during their 2010 campaign to support independent redistricting. The new lines once again insure that Albany continues its woeful status quo.

Further adding to their insincerity, little notice was given about the timing of hearings at which public comment could be given. Citizens Union, testifying before the State Legislature, stated:

"A deeply flawed process- in which self-interested legislators draw their own

lines- unsurprisingly yields an unacceptable and defective product. ... Communities of interest, political subdivisions, compactness, diversifying the legislature, equally-sized districts- these are mere obstacles to circumvent in the majority parties' quest to retain their stranglehold on the levers of power."

Past efforts to legally, if immorally, rig elections in the Empire State have been highly successful. During the past decade, the re-election rate of state elected officials has been an astronomical 96%, and in one year, it actually reached a disgraceful 100%.

As New York continues to endure an unemployment crisis, the new district lines at least achieve one purpose-they create exactly one extra job. Of course, that will go to a politician. An additional senate district has been instituted-in a state where the per-capita cost of government is already the highest in the nation.

The sad state of New York politics is, of course, not just the result of redistricting.

Over the years, and under a variety of excuses, an entire patchwork of rules and procedures has been grafted onto the body politic. Arcane regulations and onerous red tape hurdles conspire to keep the electoral process largely inaccessible to citizens who wish to participate, but don't have the support of party machinery. During election years, many incumbents abuse their "official" newsletters, as well as their role in handing out member items, to turn these taxpayer-funded programs into thinly veiled campaign assets.

With apologies to Abraham Lincoln, Albany has become a government of the politicians, by the politicians, and for the politicians.


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