January 24, 2007

Lane challenges state representatives on gerrymander

Today's Ithaca Journal includes a letter by former County Legislator Mike Lane that asks a hard question of our state representatives, all of whom enjoy districts gerrymandered severely in favor of their continued incumbency:

[Spitzer] also said he will submit “legislation that established an independent, non-partisan redistricting commission” to more fairly draw future election district lines.

While I have not read any comment about this from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, I was disappointed to read in The Ithaca Journal that Senate Majority leader Joseph Bruno does not think such legislation should have priority. The people of Tompkins County have the right to know where each of our state elected officials - Sens. James Seward, George Winner Jr., and Michael Nozzolio, and Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton - stand on this fundamental issue of government reform. I call on each of them to respond publicly and state whether they will support Gov. Spitzer's effort to create an independent redistricting commission, or if instead think the legislature should continue gerrymandering districts for political advantage. (Emphasis and links added.)

Spitzer came into Albany claiming that "Day One, everything changes." It was fairly clear to me that unless the legislature changed - it didn't - "Day One" was going to have to last a long time, even as the Governor's office changed. I know too many New Yorkers share Mike's concern about the state of our legislature, but I'm afraid a lot of them seem to think it's impossible ever to change it. Mike's right, though: it's "time to return power to the people of New York."

Hopefully we'll hear from our elected officials and the leadership soon, but we also need to be figuring out how to break the dysfunction if those actively participating in it won't do it for us. It's a hard problem, one that requires convincing people their participation will help solve something which makes participation hard.

The Dryden schools added $38,000 to renovation plans. The money comes from $200,000 'found' earlier, and the rest of the money will go for "purchasing equipment, textbooks and supplies, and will offset next year's tax burden."

Posted by simon at January 24, 2007 8:08 AM in ,
Note on photos


KAZ said:

RE: that "found money"--of course any surplus is not really found, it's taxpayers' money that wasn't used up. For that reason, our committee recommended that it not be used toward the building project but instead spent on one-time purchases to reduce the 2007-2008 budget and thus to "give the money back" to the people. However, the temptation to fix some roof problems was too great for the board not to want to use part of the money for that purpose. In fairness, they do get back 82 cents on the dollar, and it is something that will become a problem later if it's not addressed now.