For Immediate Release:
Contact: Susan Lerner
January 31, 2012
Coffey testifies at Bronx LATFOR hearing
CC/NY deploys board members in light of new limits on testimony. "The failure of this Legislature to keep its members' sworn promise to refer the drawing of district lines to an independent, non-partisan committee was a cynical breach of trust"
Testifying today in the Bronx, Common Cause NY board member and former candidate for Attorney General, Sean Coffey, firmly rebuked LATFOR's proposed lines as gerrymandered and partisan displays of political self interest. Coffey outlined a specific critique of the Bronx and Westchester lines, comparing them against Common Cause NY's reform plan which created an additional 5th Latino Senate District. Coffey invoked his own experience as a candidate for office who signed the ReShapeNY pledge to support an independent redistricting process.
"Like many candidates for office in 2010, I was asked to sign the ReShapeNY pledge that would commit me to support an independent redistricting process after the 2010 census. I had previously put out a detailed reform agenda that included that very point, so on one level agreeing to sign the pledge was a foregone conclusion. But I remember thinking long and hard about whether to put my signature on a written pledge that would create a solemn contract between me and the voters, a commitment that I, if elected, would be honor-bound to fulfill. I signed the pledge, as did the vast majority of other candidates eager to assure the voters that they understood the need to end the insidious practice of gerrymandering. I came up short in my campaign, so I never got the opportunity to fulfill my promise to the voters. But a healthy majority of those elected to each house of the Legislature had signed the pledge, and like other private citizens I looked forward to those majorities fulfilling their pledge to the voters. It was not to be. The failure of this Legislature to keep its members' sworn promise to refer the drawing of district lines to an independent, non-partisan committee was a cynical breach of trust, even by the low standards that News Yorkers have come to expect of Albany politicians. Having ignored their commitment to an independent commission and opted, yet again, to draw the lines themselves, one would have hoped that this Task Force would have mitigated the harm by drawing the new lines in a manner that at least approximated what an independent commission would have done. Unfortunately, the draft maps produced by this Task Force pour salt in the wound, because the lines are clearly the product of highly partisan gerrymandering of the worst degree."
"Common Cause NY has been a strong advocate of establishing an independent redistricting commission in this state. When it became clear that members of the Legislature were intent on breaking this promise to the public, we at Common Cause NY decided to take matters into our own hands and draw independent, non-partisan redistricting plans for the entire state. Working with an advisory panel of distinguished academics and engaged citizens, and soliciting input from communities and organizations throughout New York, we have produced the Common Cause Reform Maps that clearly illustrate kind of non-partisan plan that the voters support, and that the Legislature promised to deliver when members signed that pledge. "
Full testimony attached.
Office: Common Cause New York
Common Cause is a nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.