I was just forwarded the "Unity" group's proposal for Council District boundaries in NYC, particularly several in Queens.
They are disturbing.
They also go in spirit with the aggressive actions that occurred in the recent hearing at the Flushing Library, where demands were made by a number of groups to "have their own districts" and radical changes to each Council District in shape and composition.
The basis of redistricting is simple: there are a number of indices that are important - defined as "communities with established ties of common interest and association" which include ethnicity, religion, geography and other factors, like neighborhood cohesiveness, straight boundary lines and voter registration by party.
A map of Republican registration in NYC can be found here:
Almost all of the changes that are proposed by Unity are based on ethnicity only. This is not an appropriate way to approach this process. Also, unlike the LATFOR hearings for Congressional, Assembly and Senate districts held six months ago, the NYC Districting Commission is not being decided on by a single political leader, like Silver in the Assembly or Skelos in the Senate; they are also charged with making districts that meet all of the points that I brought up before.
Some of the changes that are of great concern:
ALL of North Flushing, including Broadway-Flushing, Station Road Civic Association area and parts of Bowne Park and Auburndale would be moved into the 20th Council District (currently Peter Koo) instead of the 19th (currently Dan Halloran). These areas are primarily Caucasian and heavily Republican/Independent.
Douglaston and Little Neck would be moved from the 19th Council District to the 23rd (Mark Weprin). These areas are primarily Caucasian and heavily Republican/Independent.
Oakland Gardens would move from the 23rd Council District to the 19th. This area is primarily Asian-American and heavily Democratic.
The rest of Auburndale east of Auburndale Lane would be split between the 19th and 23rd Council Districts. This area is mixed ethnically and mostly Democratic.
Outside of the 19th, 20th and 23rd Districts there's one proposed district that is really, truly outrageous:
Howard Beach (Council District 32 - Eric Ulrich) would literally be carved out of this Council District and lumped in with South Jamaica, effectively removing the potential for a sitting Republican Councilmember the chance to get re-elected to his own district.
All of these proposed changes can be found here:
Unity Map Individual Districts With Asian American Population
This flies in the face of what civic and homeowners associations that gave testimony were looking for at the redistricting hearing, which was mostly in the reverse direction: moving more of our single-family neighborhoods from the 20th (or the 23rd) into the 19th, like the rest of North Flushing, Station Road and Bayside Hills. This has nothing to do with ethnicity and everything to do with reinforcing cohesive neighborhoods that have a common interest with the neighborhoods around them and making sure our neighborhoods are not divided geographically between Council Districts.
Generally speaking, I consider myself one of the more non-partisan people around (for those who need to know, I was a "blank" enrollee, then a Green and became a Democrat in 2009 when Tony Avella was running for Mayor but have always supported candidates - including Republicans - based on their actual positions, not their party affiliation). I think I speak for many civic leaders in Queens when I state that it's incredibly important that Council District lines are drawn in a way that is representative in ALL ways.
These proposed lines are outrageous and incredibly self-serving. All of these proposed changes were made based SOLELY on ethnicity, which is completely inappropriate and in violation of the directives stated in the City Charter. I think it is incumbent upon us to make sure that these changes do not happen. They are not representative of our neighborhood boundaries or of the "common interests" of the people who live there overall. And, in their zeal for creating Council Districts that boost certain ethnic populations, they are happy to see areas that have no common interest lumped together for the sake of promoting one thing and one thing only: majority districts based entirely on ethnicity.
Many of our neighborhoods in Queens are proud of being multi-ethnic and multi-faceted; we are bound by the common interests of protecting our homeowning neighborhoods from lousy development and demanding the share of infrastructure and services that we deserve. Frankly, this just reeks of a powerplay by a particular group of wannabe power brokers using divisive and aggressive tactics and attempting to twist the City Charter and Voting Rights Act in order to get certain persons into elected office.
Please forward this email to other people that you think will be interested in understanding what could potentially happen if we, collectively, don't stay on top of this situation.