By PAUL LAROCCO, Newsday
Advocates for some of Long Island's largest minority communities Monday night blasted a proposed state redistricting plan as an effort to continue stifling their residents' political influence.
Addressing a standing-room-only crowd of nearly 100 people in Brentwood, speakers urged that protests be brought to Thursday's formal public hearing on the matter in Hauppauge.
"The reality is this is all about your power," said Lucia Gomez, executive director of the La Fuente organization in Hempstead.
State lawmakers' plan would continue to split minority communities -- including Brentwood and Central Islip -- into separate districts, which advocates say dilutes residents' ability to elect minority representatives. Overall, Long Island would pick up an extra state Assembly seat, while the region's nine Senate districts would remain intact. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has threatened to veto partisan drawn maps that didn't accurately reflect changes in population.
"It seems to be that politicians don't want a strong voice like mine to be heard in the next election," Frank Sprouse, a Brentwood resident originally from the Dominican Republic, said through a translator.
Scottie Coads, civic engagement chairwoman for the state NAACP, said the need for neighboring minority pockets, in Nassau and Suffolk counties, to be "in one community" was crucial.
"You need to be there," she told the crowd at the old Salvadoran Consulate on Suffolk Avenue, noting the scheduled hearing.Thursday's hearing of the state Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment will be at 11 a.m. at the Suffolk County Legislature building, 725 Veterans Memorial Hwy., Hauppauge.