For Immediate Release:
Contact: Susan Lerner
June 25, 2012
Fair Redistricting Groups Lambast Irresponsible Use of Redistricting in Tug of War Between Nassau Lawmakers
Civic and Civil Rights Group Pledge to Use Their Expertise to Facilitate Inclusiveness for Residents and To Urge Transparency and Fairness
Latino Justice PRLDEF, Common Cause New York, and La Fuente-Long Island Civic Participation Project today announced a new initiative spearheaded by their groups to refocus the Nassau County redistricting process on drawing fair district lines, and not escalating partisan warfare. The groups decried what they call a shameful political hostage taking where politicians put their personal and partisan interest in the redistricting outcome far ahead of the welfare of Nassau County residents. They will take this message to the County Legislature at its Monday 1 PM meeting in Mineola.
The new initiative will examine various ways in which citizens might be able to influence the official process, which could include local public forums providing residents with assistance in drawing their own county district maps, active non-partisan monitoring and critique of the official commission's activities, a possible non-partisan parallel citizens' commission on drawing a non-partisan consensus map.
We are also engaging other Nassau County groups that have expressed an interest in fair redistricting, as well as those potentially affected by the political paralysis in Nassau County government to determine the most effective way to assist in Nassau County's redistricting process.
"Elected officials must not hold hostage public policy to the rancor of redistricting, past and present. They owe a legal duty to serve their constituents and to make decisions on their own merits. Edge of the precipice brinksmanship is unworthy of this County. Our non-partisan groups will identify pragmatic and fair options for legislators, members of the Temporary Commission and the public", stated Jackson Chin, Senior Counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF, a national non-partisan civil rights advocacy organization.
"Nassau County is setting a new low for a broken redistricting process in a state that is infamous for its poor redistricting practices. Whether redistricting is being used to achieve the upper hand in unrelated policy issues or vice versa, the conduct not only is bad governance, it's shameful. Residents of Nassau County expect their elected officials to represent all of their constituents, not simply look out for their own partisan self-interest, " said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause, New York, a good government watchdog group which drew non-partisan reform maps during New York State's 2012 redistricting.
"We must not allow legislators to continue to manipulate this process and potentially disenfranchise voters and their communities. The only way to ensure that this process is transparent and that voters continue to choose their legislators versus legislators cherry picking their voters, is that we have a non-partisan process with a set of criteria and open-transparent process that maximizes community engagement," added Osman Canales, Long Island organizer for La Fuente LICPP.
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.