This morning, the NYC Districting Commission withdrew the proposed NYC Council redistricting plan that it submitted to the NYC Council on November 16, 2012. The Commission then unexpectedly voted on two changes to the map, an alteration to the Brooklyn districts 34 and 37, involved with the Vito Lopez controversy, and an alteration to Councilmember Dan Halloran’s district (district 19) and district 20, that resulted in uniting the Mitchell-Linden community. These two changes were voted on immediately and passed by the Commission.
The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) is concerned about the arbitrary nature of this redistricting process, which has already resulted in withdrawal of the Commission’s map and two new substantive changes even before the third round of public hearings has even commenced.
AALDEF staff attorney Jerry Vattamala said, “The Commission stated that additional public input was necessary in order for the Commission to craft a well-considered plan, and we hope the Asian American community’s changes will be given serious consideration.” AALDEF urged that the following adjustments be made:
- John Adams High School must be included with the community of Richmond Hill/South Ozone Park in district 28. The western boundary line of district 28 must be extended towards Woodhaven Boulevard.
- Briarwood and Jamaica Hills must be kept whole and in the same district, as they previously were.
- Oakland Gardens must be kept whole with the rest of Bayside in district 19.
“The Unity Map best illustrates how to accomplish all of the above and should be adopted in whole or in part,” said Vattamala.
The Commission is bound by the NYC Charter, which requires that redistricting criteria be applied in a ranked order. The first priority after complying with population equality for each district is ensuring that language and racial minorities protected under the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 have fair and effective representation. The groups protected under the federal Voting Rights Act are African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans. Representatives of these groups jointly proposed the Unity Map.
The Charter also requires that the Commission make its plan available for public inspection and comment at least one month in advance of public hearings. The third round of public hearings will take place in January and will finally allow the public an opportunity to inspect and comment on a real plan before it is resubmitted to the City Council.
“At minimum, these proposed changes must be made to the map, to illustrate that the Commission has given serious consideration to the extensive public comments already given by the Asian American community,” said Vattamala.