EDITORIAL: Politics wins, public loses … again

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PHOTOGRAPHER:

Broken promises are tough enough to take.

But when you find out more than seven years later that they’ve been broken, they hit particularly hard.

So it is with former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pledge back in 2014 to remove politics from the practice of drawing election boundaries for state and federal districts.

If you were one of the 1.7 million New Yorkers in 2014 who believed him and voted for the creation of an independent commission to redraw the boundaries for the next 10 years, you just got duped.

Now the question is, are state lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul willing to create district boundaries that are fair and reasonable?

Or will they play the political game we all deep down knew they were playing and design the districts so that they heavily favor the party in power — the Democrats?

The New York State Independent Redistricting Commission — created after that 2014 referendum and made up of an equal number of Republicans and Democrats along with a couple of independents — was supposed to work across political lines to come up with one map all sides could live with.

But on Monday, the commission deadlocked 5-5 along party lines and presented two maps for approval instead of one.

The drawing of the maps is vitally important because it essentially helps determine political control. And with political control comes control over who receives what resources and what policies are enacted.

On the state level, it determines control over the legislative process, laws and policies, as well as who among school districts, local governments,individuals and demographic groups gets how much in state resources. On the federal level, it determines federal aid to states, as well as national and international policy on everything from the military to the economy.

With Congress so narrowly divided, which party’s candidates are able to secure New York’s 26 congressional seats with the new maps could have a significant impact on the state and the country for the next decade.

But because the so-called independent commission failed in its task (You had one job!), the work of determining the boundaries will fall next to the Legislature and the governor.

If no consensus is reached, ultimately, lawmakers could end up determining the boundary lines themselves — returning New York to the very political process that voters wanted the independent commission to replace.

Broken promises. Abject failure. That’s what this process has been so far.

The Legislature and the governor have a chance to change that. Do we dare hold out hope?

So far, they haven’t given us much reason for optimism.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

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