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Jeffries: "New State Legislative Maps Headed in Wrong Direction"

Some claim the new district maps have been redrawn to establish a political advantage by the map’s authors.

The proposed redrawn State Senate and Assembly district maps are out.

But Governor Cuomo and other Albany legislators, including Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries of the 57th A.D. in Brooklyn, think the legislative task force that drew up and released the new maps yesterday is headed in the wrong direction.

"The Senate GOP has once again abused the redistricting process to protect incumbents, punish the opposition and artificially maintain their power,” said Jeffries, a longtime and outspoken opponent of gerrymandering, the practice of manipulating geographic boundaries to create partisan, incumbent-protected districts.

Jeffries, along with then-State Senator Eric T. Schneiderman introduced a bill in 2010 to end prison-based gerrymandering. The bill passed in August of that year, making New York only the second state in the country to count incarcerated individuals in their home communities for purposes of legislative reapportionment.

The new state legislative maps were redrawn by a task force represented by Albany’s majority parties -- the Republicans in the Senate and the Democrats in the Assembly -- and they attempt to reconcile the state’s changing population with the latest Census figures

However, according to some politicians and at least one redistricting watchdog group, the maps play into the same-old same-old attempts to establish a political advantage by the map’s authors.

Bill Mahoney, research coordinator for the New York Public Interest Research Group, described the proposed Senate map as containing “clearly the most gerrymandered lines in recent New York history.”

Assemblyman Jeffries and Sen. Michael Gianaris are the lead sponsors of state legislation to create an independent redistricting commission. Governor Cuomo also is a big supporter an independent commission to handle the redistricting process and vowed he would veto anything the task force put forth.

True to form, by yesterday afternoon, after the maps were released, a spokesman for Cuomo issued a statement saying, “At first glance, these lines are simply unacceptable and would be vetoed by the governor.”

The legislative task force that drew the new maps has scheduled nine hearings to gather public comments. The first is scheduled for Monday morning in Albany.

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