About 15 activist groups came to Peekskill on Saturday to protest what they say is Republican state Sen. Greg Ball’s decision to not support independent redistricting — a promise he made back in the fall by signing former New York City Mayor Ed Koch’s redistricting pledge.
Redistricting takes place every 10 years based on population shifts in the U.S. Census. Traditionally, it is controlled by the political party in control of the Senate and Assembly with the goal of protecting that power.
Ball was among dozens of candidates and officials last year to publicly support an independent effort to redraw district lines. Now, he seems to have backed off his pledge. He released the following statement on his website about Saturday’s protest.
“While I welcome them to the Hudson Valley, this sideshow is financed by New York City Democrat operatives and will not lower anyone’s taxes or create a single job. The ‘protest’ organizers themselves admit to representing over a dozen partisan, Democrat groups. Unfortunately, I think they are either misinformed or lost, because I have supported and passed constitutional, fair, non partisan redistricting in the Senate and I would further support truly independent redistricting based upon geography and demographics. What I will not support, is giving the Democrat party machine complete control to redistrict all Republicans into oblivion as was the stated and admitted goal of Democrat State Senator Malcolm Smith. Folks, let’s focus on jobs and taxes, not cheap political tricks,” Ball said.
His decision to walk away from Koch’s pledge prompted the former mayor to write a letter to the editor last month.
Re “Keep the pressure on pledge-breakers,” April 13 editorial:
Your recent editorial was superb. Thank you for naming state Sen. Greg Ball, R-Carmel, a lawmaker who has so far reneged on his pledges, and for addressing his false arguments head-on. We can’t let him and his colleagues off the hook.
Let’s continue to remind them of the consequences of their inaction, in addition to your ongoing ire: Gov. Andrew Cuomo will veto any new lines that haven’t been drawn by an independent commission, and then the courts would determine the lines. Then lawmakers will have even less control.
Bill Samuels leads the reform-minded New Roosevelt Initiative, which organized Saturday’s protest. The group released a a statement today on the event, which is partly shown below.
Samuels, founder of the New Roosevelt, an organization dedicated to reforming Albany and creating the country’s best state legislature, said he was upset that Ball, who promised to speak and act independently from his party, was siding with the status quo on such a critical issue to both the voters of New York and to the future governance of the state.
“In many ways, Greg Ball’s betrayal on this issue is the most egregious of anyone who signed the Koch pledge. He praised Ball for his early demonstrations of independence on issues such as ethics and reform. But now, his double talk on the Koch pledge and being in favor of a flawed constitutional convention proves that he would rather be just another status quo Albany politician. Independent Redistricting reform must be passed this session in order to have an impact in 2012,” Samuels said.
“While I initially advocated for a Constitutional Amendment last session, passing one in this session means no meaningful impact until 2022,” continued Samuels.
“Until a couple of Republicans stand up for what is right and vote for the Independent Districting bill put forth by Governor Cuomo, they are only interested in preserving for another decade their badly gerrymandered advantage. I would like to see Senator Ball prove everyone wrong and reassert the independence he promised to the voters in the 2010,” concluded Samuels.
More on Samuels and independent redistricting in an earlier post.