Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush testified this morning at a LATFOR hearing in Plattsburgh, saying that the state's map of Assembly districts cheated upstate New York out of a seat.
LATFOR is going to redraw that map (whether it'll become law is another matter). Mr. Blankenbush does not support the bill that good-government groups want for independent redistricting, which, advocates argue, would get rid of the sort of skewing of districts that LATFOR ensures. Ed Koch and his good-government group, New York Uprising, have called Mr. Blankenbush an "enemy of reform" for his opposition to the bill they want. Mr. Blankenbush has signed on to a different bill that would provide independent redistricting, but basically, the good-government groups are saying: If everyone has their own way, nothing gets done. So get on the train.
Here's his testimony:
"In 2001, Upstate New York accounted for 43.4% of the state's population and should have had 64.93, or 65, Assembly seats. Instead, upstate was only allocated 64 seats—essentially losing one representative in the Assembly,” the assemblyman testified. “In contrast, New York City's population was 42.3% of the state's total and should have been allocated 63.3 seats. Yet New York City's representation in the Assembly currently stands at 65 seats. In 2002, upstate New York had about 206,000 more people than New York City, yet had one LESS Assembly seat. ... “For the last 10 years, upstate New York has been cheated out of an Assembly member, while New York City has unfairly enjoyed the advantage of having two extra representatives in the Assembly chamber. I am hopeful that LATFOR recognizes this discrepancy this time around and returns an Assembly member to upstate New York so that the MAJORITY of New Yorkers are fairly represented in the Assembly.”
The future of LATFOR, as you inside baseballers know, is dubious. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a majority of the elected members of the Legislature vowed to get rid of it. Somehow, it didn't happen. But Mr. Cuomo says he'll veto LATFOR's lines anyway, meaning the issue will probably end up in the courts.
One has to wonder whether these LATFOR hearings are accomplishing anything or if they're a dog and pony show.