An assortment of prominent Nassau Democrats argued Wednesday the county's redistricting process is at a standstill because the Republican majority won't discuss a fair way to redraw its political lines.
Democratic members of the joined Nassau , D-Woodbury, and state at a public meeting in Plainview Wednesday night to air their grievances.
Republican members of the 11-member panel were invited to the Oyster Bay town-wide meeting, but did not participate. They could not be reached for comment Wednesday night. The group was empaneled to try to find common ground.
Essentially, Democrats argued Wednesday their opponents are not playing fairly:
"The Republicans in Nassau want to eviscerate the Democratic Party," said , a Farmingdale Democrat who is a commission member and former Nassau County Legislator. "The community will be badly affected by these decisions."
Redistricting is a complicated process rooted in the legal principal of 'One Man, One Vote." In practice, that means that every 10 years, legislative bodies around the country have to redraw local district lines to reflect shifts in population, said Bonnie Garone, a Democratic member of the advisory commission.
In Nassau County that means, with some legal exceptions, that each of the 19 legislative districts need to have about 67,000 people living in them, Garone said.
That's where the process gets tricky. In the last 10 years, Nassau's population has shifted somewhat to the west, leaving five districts under the population cap. Those district lines need to be redrawn to include more residents.
Democrats argued Wednesday that the lines drawn and approved by Republicans in recent party-line votes were designed only to crush local Democrats and don't serve the electorate. Those lines, they argued, separate communities with common interests and don't "follow some semblance of geographic sensibility." Garone said.
She described the Republican plan as "radical," melding, for example, some northern Oyster Bay communities into the same district as the City of Glen Cove.
The real intention of the Republicans, argued Garrone and others, was to force incumbent Democrats into the same districts. Under the existing plan that is on hold at least through next year, Jacobs' solid Plainview-Syosset area district would become part of the Glen Cove-area district now represented by Freshman Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, D-Glen Cove.
Further, Democrats presented a video of the commission's Republican chairman, Francis X. Moroney, saying that public comment on the commission's work was "gratuitous." The public comment period was voted down along party lines at a recent meeting, Garone said.
Moroney, in the video, described the session as a "business meeting," and argued it was not appropriate to include a comment period.
About 50 people attended the 5 p.m. discussion at the including a broad cross-section of community and civic leaders. Among them were members of the and the
For now, the redistricting proposal is on hold after Justice Steve Jaeger ruled that a . Jaeger said the Legislature was not in compliance with two of three parts of the county charter pertaining to redistricting. The earliest the new map can be used, the judge said, is in 2013.
A similar public forum was held by the Democrats on Monday in the Town of Hempstead. Another is planned for the Town of North Hempstead.