New Yorkers want to see real change in Albany; but it’s only a few months into the new year and we’re seeing the same broken promises from Senate Republicans.
Prior to the 2010 elections, every Republican candidate for State Senate made a promise to work with Democrats to clean up Albany. Less than two months into the start of the new legislative session, those same Republicans are breaking their promise, abandoning the reforms Albany needs and the public expects. Today former Mayor Ed Koch called on Albany legislators to act on their promise and pass a bill for independent redistricting. Members of the NY State Senate Democratic Conference joined him in this effort. The Albany Times Union was there to cover the story. Here’s an excerpt from the Capital Confidential blog “Koch: Skelos is reneging on redistricting promise”
…Koch said he had just met with Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Long Island, who said he would not back a bill currently wending its way through the Senate because he believes changes to the redistricting process — currently handled by representatives of both legislative houses, and resulting in districts often derided as gerrymandered — require amendments to the state’s constitution.
“We now know where stand, which ain’t too good,” Koch said. “The reason he gives is it’s not constitutional to do this…this is, of course, not acceptable to us. We believe it is simply an effort to derail the operation.”
At its most rapid, a constitutional amendment could not be in place until 2013 — after lines are drawn for the five election cycles starting with 2012.
The former mayor, now 86, traveled the state during the last election cycle to rally support for candidates who agreed to sign on to independent redistricting and other reform measures. Skelos and all members of the Republican conference, publicly, signed onto his pledge.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month submitted a bill to the legislature that would take redistricting out of the hands of legislative leaders, and vowed to veto any lines drawn under the current system.
Cuomo’s bill was introduced in the Assembly by Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan. The sponsor of a similar measure, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, said Silver has “at least expressed an interest in changing the procedure…he’s said he will not stand in the way of reform.”
He expressed that commitment before Cuomo’s State of the State PowerPoint presentation. Koch had once labeled Silver the biggest enemy of reform, but said this when asked: “He’s come a long way. He may be the leader of reform.”
Skelos has blocked Democrats trying to co-sponsor Cuomo’s measure in the Senate. Senate Democrats attacked the Republicans who bounced them from the majority last year as hypocrites. There are more Democrats than Republicans in New York, and Democrats charged that Republicans are clinging to their control of the redistricting to draw lines that will allow them to continue in the majority.
Senate Minority Leader John Sampson said Skelos’ reversal was the “height of hypocrisy” and showed “selective amnesia.” Sen. Mike Gianaris, D-Queens and the sponsor of a bill similar to Cuomo’s, said the Republicans’ new position was “shameful” and a “disgrace.”
“Not since the first President Bush told us to read his lips have we seen a more dramatic turnaround on a campaign promise,” Gianaris said.
Koch’s group, New York Uprising, committed to funding 100,000 robocalls and patch-through calls targeting those standing in the way of the bill. A release on that is after the jump.
Below is a clip of Senator Mike Gianaris at the Koch Press Conference on Independent Redistricting 3/1/2011