Noticia: Exigimos mapas Justos

Exigimos mapas Justos

Daniel Altschuler* [Artículo original aquí]

Para bien o para mal, a veces la historia se repite. En los últimos años, hemos visto esfuerzos de sectores conservadores de diluir el poder electoral de comunidades Latinas y afroamericanas a nivel nacional y estatal. Ahora, lo mismo está pasando en el condado de Nassau, y no lo podemos permitir.

El caso actual se trata del proceso de redistribución electoral, en el cual los legisladores crean mapas para los nuevos distritos politicos debido a cambios demográficos. Los distritos deben de ser compactos, con aproximadamente la misma población, y deben evitar dividir a pueblos, aldeas, y comunidades.

Pero está claro que los legisladores de Nassau, sobre todo la mayoría republicana, está proponiendo un mapa que favorece a su partido tras diluir el voto latino y afroamericano. La propuesta actual divide comunidades como Elmont y Hempstead, donde hay un alto porcentaje de comunidades de color e inmigrantes, porque la mayoría en la legislatura teme perder su control del gobierno del condado.

Pero todavía, están intentando hacer todo esto sin consultar con el público—en vez de realizar audiencias públicas, los legisladores han trabajado detrás de puertas cerradas.

Por lo tanto, una coalición de organizaciones comunitarias que incluye La Mesa Cívica de Long Island, La Fuente, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Common Cause Nueva York, el NYCLU, y la Liga de Mujeres Votantes ha creado su propio mapa basado en consultas con comunidades de Nassau. Además, nuestra coalición está organizando una serie de foros comunitarios.

El próximo foro tomará lugar en Elmont este jueves, 7 de febrero, a las 7:30pm en la biblioteca pública de Elmont (700 Hempstead Turnpike). Todos están invitados, y esperamos que vengan para aprender más sobre este proceso importantísimo y cómo podemos prevenir que nuestras comunidades sean divididas por políticos que piensan más en mantener el poder que responder a las necesidades del pueblo.

*Coordinador de la Mesa Cívica de LI

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Levittown Tribune: Divide Us At Your Peril

Divide Us At Your Peril

A typical response to criticism is “If you don’t like it, let’s see you do better.” Members of the Nassau County United Redistricting Coalition did just that: they didn’t like the map that the Republican members of the redistricting advisory commission drew for the county at all, so they decided to create their own. Furthermore, unlike the commission, which had a budget of $500,000, they did it with nothing.

“With no money in our budget, we have come up with a better map— an incredible map that involves listening to the community, listening to the vast numbers of residents that showed up to the public hearings, which the commission, oddly, ignored,” said Jackson Chin for LatinoJustice, a member organization of the coalition.

At a press conference held on the steps of the Legislative Building on Monday, Jan. 14, Chin and other speakers presented the coalition’s own non-partisan map, and spoke about the importance of working toward fair redistricting. After the press conference, they formally presented the map to the county legislature.

This comes on the heels of the official redistricting advisory commission’s failure to produce a map both sides could agree on. While the Republican-led legislature will likely consider the map put forward by the Republican members of the commission for implementation, speakers at the press conference made it clear that they did not consider a map created by one side of the aisle to be an acceptable solution.

“We are extremely disappointed in the commission’s inability to work together to have one map,” said Barbara Epstein, Redistricting Co-Chair for the Nassau County Chapter of the League of Women Voters, going on to urge the legislature to adopt the coalition’s  non-partisan map, with modifications if necessary.

Furthermore, in addition to concerns that the Republican map was drawn without input from the minority party, many believe the map is unconstitutional, since it splits many traditional communities of interest like Great Neck and the Five Towns.

“One of the things that we have to understand is that what has been proposed by the Republicans on the commission moves over half of the population of Nassau County into different districts and attempts to try to separate brother from brother and sister from sister,” said Fred Brewington, a civil rights lawyer who has made it abundantly clear that he is prepared to sue the legislature if they adopt the Republican map. “The whole point of redistricting is to be fair. What has happened thus far is completely unfair, but more so, it is insidious.”

 “You know they are trying to dilute the voice of the people and we will not stand for it anymore,” added Mimi Pierre Johnson from New York Communities for Change, an Elmont resident.

Later, at the legislative meeting, it was Brian Paul from Common Cause NY who presented the new map on behalf of the coalition, stating that it “offers a clear alternative to the partisan dysfunction and gerrymandering that has come to characterize the legislators official process.” Paul also read a list of demands to the legislature, including the stipulation that the legislature must release its proposed redistricting plan to the public no later than Jan. 25 (one month before the next scheduled public legislative session), and that at least four public hearings must be held during the following two weeks.

There was no specific discussion of the coalition’s map during the session, but Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams agreed with the commission on the subject of public hearings, stating that the legislature should hold as many as possible.

“If we owe the public anything, we owe them that,” Abrahams said.

The Nassau County United Redistricting Coalition includes Common Cause/NY, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, La Fuente Long Island Civic Participation Project, the League of Women Voters of Nassau County, the Long Island Civic Engagement Table, and the New York Civil Liberties Union of Nassau County. To view the data used to create the coalition’s map, visit www.nassauunited redistricting.org.

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El Diario: Otro mapa distrital para Nassau

Otro mapa distrital para Nassau

Por: Zaira Cortés/EDLP PUBLICADO: Jan, 24, 2013 12:00 am EST [Artículo original aquí]


Nueva York — Ante propuestas de nuevos mapas distritales del condado Nassau en Long Island que podrían dividir el voto latino y el de otras comunidades, La Coalición de Nassau para una Redistribución Electoral Justa presentó su propia alternativa a la Legislatura de ese condado.
"Nuestra alternativa promete una representación más equitativa para las comunidades de minorías, manteniéndolas más unidas", indicó Daniel Altschuler, presidente de la Mesa de Participación Cívica de Long Island.
La Coalición —integrada por seis organizaciones no partidistas— propone distritos más compactos y contiguos, manteniendo intactas áreas con gran población de minorías. Por ejemplo, conserva sin cambios la Península de Great Neck, e integra zonas de New Hyde Park, ofreciendo un incremento del 16% al 21% a la población asiática.
Esta propuesta es el resultado de las críticas a los mapas presentados por demócratas y republicanos de la Comisión Temporal de Redistribución Distrital de la Legislatura (TDAC). "El mapa republicano sugiere una división absurda de comunidades que son mayormente latinas y afroamericanas, como Elmont, Hempstead, Baldwin, Freeport, y Unionda", enfatizó Altschuler. Según los activistas, el mapa republicano desplazaría unas 680,000 personas en los nuevos distritos, que significaría más de la mitad de la población total de Nassau, donde el 15% son latinos.
Aunque el mapa presentado por los demócratas fue calificado como más equitativo, los activistas dicen que tampoco responde a los fenómenos demográficos de la última década.
Luego de siete meses de planeación y $500,000 en fondos de los contribuyentes, ninguno de los mapas presentados consiguió los seis votos necesarios para su recomendación a la Legislatura del Condado de Nassau, que ahora es libre de elegir diversas alternativas, incluida la de la Coalición.
"La TDAC ofrece al público un ejemplo de pérdida de tiempo y de cómo funcionarios electos malgastan el dinero de los contribuyentes", dijo Lucía Gómez, de La Fuente Proyecto de Participación Cívica de Long Island.
Una propuesta importante de la Coalición es para el Distrito 2, que incluiría la Villa de Hempstead, Lakeview y zonas de West Hempstead, consiguiendo una mejor representación de la populación latina. Las cifras estiman una población de 68,013, de la cual, el 37.2% son hispanos en edad de votar.
La Coalición formuló el mapa considerando el principio de "una persona, un voto", buscando con ello una representación justa de las minorías, de acuerdo al Acta de Derechos del Votante (Voting Rights Act).
Según el Censo, la población hispana en edad de votar representa el 13.5% de la población total de votantes de Nassau, en comparación con el 9.3% en 2000.
La última reunión de la TDAC será el 25 de febrero y tiene hasta el 5 de marzo para aprobar un mapa. La Coalición demanda que formalicen su propuesta un mes antes, que sería el 25 de enero, para que los residentes tengan la oportunidad de comentar al respecto.

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Long Island Wins: We Demand a Fair Map for Nassau County

We Demand a Fair Map for Nassau County

by Mimi Pierre Johnson, Peter Rosenthal,Delbys Torres [Original article here]

The politicians are at it again, abusing their power for partisan gain. 

Faced with unanimous public criticism of their county redistricting plan, on Monday Nassau County’s Republican-controlled legislature plans to adopt a gerrymandered electoral map that would likely guarantee them a supermajority for the next decade. The process has taken place almost entirely behind closed doors, without opportunity for robust public input.

Redistricting is essential to our democracy. Governments re-draw electoral maps every ten years to reflect shifts in population and demographics. Districts should contain roughly the same population, be as compact as possible, heed minority voting rights and political boundaries, and respect communities of interest—areas that share common economic, ethnic, and social features.

Fair redistricting allows a community to vote together to elect its representative who will fight for it to get its fair share of county resources and programs and make sure its interests are represented at the legislature.

There is, however, another, way to draw maps. Instead of empowering voters’ choice, partisan mapmakers can draw snakelike shapes most favorable to their party. The Republican proposal sent from the Rules Committee to the full legislature this week – which includes districts stretching from New Hyde Park to Bethpage, and from Elmont down to Inwood – does just that.

The majority’s plan packs Democratic voters into as few districts as possible – opening the opportunity for Republicans to win a 13-6 supermajority and one-party rule in the Legislature.

Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves and her colleagues in the legislature’s majority have farmed out their judgment to partisan political consultants and party operatives. The courts may ultimately deem this proposed map illegal, but we do not need a judge’s ruling to know it is reprehensible.

When politicians divide communities of color in Hempstead, and pack together voters from communities as different as Elmont and Inwood, they show they have little faith in democracy.

The legislature’s secretive process further demonstrated this contempt for the public.

Despite receiving $500,000 in taxpayer money, the Temporary Districting Advisory Commission apparently never even met to consider a bipartisan plan. Instead, with little notice, and without ever producing drafts for public comment, the Republican commissioners produced their own partisan plan last month.

A similar scene played out at the Rules Committee last week, when Mrs. Gonsalves sat unmoved through five hours of public comments from residents who unanimously decried the Republicans’ amended map. When residents asked for an evening hearing to accommodate working residents, she refused. She seems determined to pass the map through the full legislature on February 25th without ever substantively responding to criticism, let alone altering the map in response.

As community advocates, our organizations—New York Communities for Change, the Long Island Civic Engagement Table, the League of Women Voters, and La Fuente—have joined with the Nassau United Redistricting Coalition to prove that there is another way. Last week, we testified against this map and presented an updated version of our own non-partisan map. There is no such thing as a perfect redistricting plan. Crucially, however, we have gone out to communities to educate people, asked for community feedback, and made adjustments.

District maps are essential to democracy, but they can also be its undoing. In light of Nassau County’s changing demographics—including rapidly growing African American, Latino, and immigrant communities—we need a new map that embraces our diversity while keeping communities together.

Unfortunately, the legislative majority seems afraid of change and intent on silencing residents. This strategy is bound to fail in the long term, as voters perceive legislators’ unresponsiveness. But there is still time for Mrs. Gonsalves and her colleagues to redeem themselves: they should call an evening public hearing and amend their maps to respect diversity and unify communities like Hempstead, Elmont, and Five Towns, rather than seeking to further pull us apart.

Mimi Pierre-Johnson is a member of New York Communities for Change. Peter Rosenthal is a member of the League of Women Voters. Delbys Torres is a member of La Fuente-Long Island Participation Project.

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LI Herald: Coalition presents third option for redistricting

Coalition presents third option for redistricting

Organization leaders denounce party plans
By Andrew Hackmack [Original article here]

Dissatisfied with a pair of plans that would redraw Nassau County’s 19 Legislative districts, a group of good-government organizations has created its own map, which was presented to the County Legislature on Jan. 14.

At a press conference before the meeting, several speakers condemned the plans drawn up by the Temporary Districting Advisory Commission — one by its Republican members and the other by the Democrats. Members of the Nassau County United Redistricting Coalition also said that the commission failed in its duty to present a unified, bipartisan plan.

Several organizations joined forces to form the coalition, including Common Cause New York, the Nassau County League of Women Voters, Long Island Civic Engagement Table, the New York Civil Liberties Union, Le Fuente Long Island Civic Participation Project and Latino Justice. Members of these organizations had a unified message on Monday, saying that the rights of voters have been ignored.

Barbara Epstein, of the League of Women Voters, said that representatives of her organization have attended every public hearing on redistricting so far and have advocated a fair, transparent and inclusive process. The league has also argued that legislative districts should be compact and contiguous, and keep communities of interest together. “These are all traditional, accepted redistricting values,” Epstein said.

She singled out the plan created by the Advisory Commission Republicans, saying that it fails to meet that criteria.

Brian Paul, of Common Cause New York, said that the coalition’s map was a clear alternative to the partisan and gerrymandered plans presented by the commission’s Republicans and Democrats. The new map, Paul explained, adjusts the existing legislative districts based on population shifts.

“The coalition plan,” he said, “demonstrates that there are no practical obstacles to creating common-sense plans in the best interests of the county and all its residents.”

Paul said that the coalition’s map keeps communities together, like Elmont and the Five Towns, which are split into multiple districts in the Republican plan. He added that the acceptance of either party’s plan would be a recipe for continued dysfunction.

Epstein explained that seven of the current 19 districts needed to be adjusted because they have either too many or too few residents based on 2010 census data. She also said that the new coalition’s map did not take into account where sitting legislators live.

“We urge the Legislature to adopt this map, with modifications if necessary,” she said.

Frederick Brewington, an attorney from Hempstead, said that the map was assembled by organizations that have never worked together before, but all share a common belief in a fair redistricting process. He added that if the Legislature adopts either the Republican or Democratic plan without even considering the coalition’s map, it should expect a court challenge.

Mimi Pierre-Johnson, of Elmont, representing New York Communities for Change, described the plans created by the Republicans and Democrats as a complete waste of taxpayer money. The Temporary Districting Advisory Commission had a budget of about a half-million dollars.

“We will stand together, united, and we will let them know you will not spend our taxpayers’ money to divide us,” Pierre-Johnson said. “Our voices will not be diluted.”

Scottie Coads, the state civic engagement chairwoman for the NAACP and a West Hempstead resident, said she attended the press conference to show her support for a fair redistricting process. She noted the “slicing and dicing” of communities that took place in the two plans released by the commission.

The Legislature has until March 5 to accept a redistricting plan, which would take effect for the November 2013 elections.

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Noticia: Exigiendo un mapa distrital justo en Nassau

Exigiendo un mapa distrital justo en Nassau

Coalición independiente presenta propuesta de mapa distrital para el Condado de Nassau [Artículo original aquí

Ante el descontento originado por la propuesta de los nuevos mapas distritales del condado de Nassau presentados por la Comisión Temporal de Redistribución Distrital de la Legislatura, la Coalición Unida de Redistribución Distrital de Nassau, un grupo cívico conformado por varias organizaciones sin ánimo de lucro, presentó este lunes ante la legislatura su propuesta de redistribución para el condado. 

El plan presentado fue creado teniendo como base los actuales distritos del condado, haciendo ajustes de acuerdo a diferentes criterios, entre los que se tuvo en cuenta el principio de “una persona, un voto” para crear distritos con una desviación en el número de pobladores que no pase del +/- 5%  del promedio ideal; representación justa de las minorías raciales y lingüísticas, de acuerdo al Acta de Derechos del Votante (Voting Rights Act); respeto por las subdivisiones políticas para mantener comunidades con intereses comunes juntas; y dejando de lado los intereses personales de los incumbentes en los actuales distritos. 

Durante la plenaria de la Legislatura en la que la coalición presentó su propuesta, estuvieron presentes varios representantes de las diferentes organizaciones que conforman este grupo, quienes expresaron ante los legisladores del condado su preocupación ante las actuales propuestas de mapas distritales presentadas por la mayoría republicana y la minoría demócrata. 

“Los votantes del Condado de Nassau están siendo sistemáticamente privados de sus derechos, como peones en la toma de poder partidista que se ha convertido el proceso de redistribución de distritos”, afirmó Susan Lerner, Directora Ejecutiva de Common Cause NY, “el plan de la coalición está siendo presentado a la Legislatura como una alternativa viable para demostrar que no hay obstáculos prácticos para crear un plan justo”.

 La Legislatura del condado tiene que presentar un nuevo mapa distrital que refleje los cambios poblacionales de Nassau en los últimos 10 años, de acuerdo con los resultados del Censo realizado en el 2010. La Comisión de Redistribución Distrital de la Legislatura debe dar a conocer su propuesta final del mapa distrital el 23 de enero y tiene plazo hasta el próximo 5 de marzo para aprobar el mapa final.

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Noticia: La agenda de Cuomo para el 2013

La agenda de Cuomo para el 2013

El Gobernador impulsará entre otros temas el aumento del salario mínimo, y control de armas más estricto
Eliana López [Artículo original aquí]

El pasado 9 de enero, el Gobernador del estado de NY, Andrew Cuomo, realizó su segundo discurso “State of the State”, en el cual, como es costumbre, el mandatario habló sobre su plan de trabajo y prioridades para este año.

La agenda presentada por el Gobernador fue calificada por el Asambleísta Phil Ramos como “impresionante” y se centró en la reconstrucción del estado luego del paso de la tormenta Sandy; la transformación del sistema educativo; integridad y transparencia en las campañas electorales; control más estricto de la compra y porte de armas; así como de la creación de más puestos de trabajo y salarios más justos para los trabajadores del estado. El Gobernador prometió entregar el presupuesto a tiempo, sin incluir aumento de impuestos.

“Los elementos básicos de un nuevo NY son: Atraer buenos trabajos y crecimiento económico; crear un sistema educativo de clase mundial que prepare a la nueva generación para el futuro; establecer integridad fiscal y disciplina; y restaurar a Nueva York como la capital progresiva de la nación”, indicó Cuomo en su discurso.

Economía

Para el 2013, el programa de desarrollo económico presentado por el Gobernador seguirá basándose en el trabajo de los Concilios de Desarrollo Económico Regional, los cuales desde el 2011 se encargan de crear planes de desarrollo económico específicos para cada región del estado.

La asociación de instituciones educativas superiores con compañías y empresarios para lograr la comercialización de ideas alrededor de las cuales se formen nuevas industrias, un proceso denominado transferencia tecnológica, será otro plan clave que Cuomo planea desarrollar este año. Un fondo de 50 millones de dólares denominado Venture Capital será empleado para ofrecer apoyo financiero a las instituciones educativas y a las empresas que generen nuevas industrias de esta forma.

Una reforma a los seguros de compensación de trabajadores y desempleo para negocios y trabajadores también se tiene planeada para este año.

Un enfoque más “verde” en la economía se incluyó dentro de la agenda este año, por lo cual se buscará convertir al estado en líder en tecnología ecológica mediante la creación del Banco NY Green, el cual contará con 1 billón de dólares para la financiación de proyectos económicos ecológicos. De igual forma se planea expandir la instalación de paneles solares en los hogares y negocios, y fomentar la producción de automóviles eléctricos para reducir la dependencia en combustibles fósiles. 

“El Gobernador ha propuesto un número de iniciativas que dan continuidad al éxito de los últimos dos años”, indicó el Senador Charles J. Fuschillo en un comunicado, “estos son los pasos que debemos tomar para asegurarnos que el Estado de Nueva York continúa moviéndose en la dirección correcta”.

Educación

El Gobernador planea transformar y modernizar el sistema público de educación a través de varios pasos que incluyen extender el año escolar al menos en un 25 por ciento, y la implementación de jornada preescolar de tiempo completo. 

“Estudios muestran que la educación temprana tiene un impacto positivo en los niños”, indicó frente a la propuesta el Asambleísta Ramos, “será una de mis prioridades este año ayudar al Gobernador a pasar un proyecto de ley que incluya educación preescolar de tiempo completo”. 

Cuomo planea continuar con iniciativas como la adopción de un sistema de evaluación de profesores, e impulsar la creación de un examen de conocimientos para quienes deseen convertirse en profesores, para garantizar un cuerpo docente y administrativo cada vez más preparado en las escuelas públicas.

Transparencia y monitoreo gubernamental

El Gobernador anunció una reforma al sistema de financiamiento de campañas que incluirá la modificación de la ley de divulgación, para que todas las contribuciones de campaña realizadas por PAC, organizaciones, comités políticos, y partidos políticos sean divulgadas en las 48 previas al día de elecciones; financiación pública para las elecciones basada en el modelo utilizado en la ciudad de Nueva York; y límites más bajos de contribución a las campañas. 

“El tema de las donaciones políticas es algo que tiene que ver con todos los temas que nos preocupan, ya que finalmente podremos ver si los oficiales electos responden a las necesidades de sus electores o de las personas que los financian”, aseguró frente al tema Daniel Altschuler, Coordinador de la Mesa Cívica de LI.

Para incrementar la transparencia y desempeño del gobierno, Cuomo anunció también el lanzamiento de OPEN NY, un portal electrónico que ofrecerá acceso público a información de agencias a nivel estatal, incluyendo reportes, estadísticas, y compilaciones, entre otra información.

Reconstrucción y prevención de desastres

El Gobernador dio a conocer una serie de propuestas para fortificar y actualizar los sistemas que pueden paralizar a la ciudad al fallar durante una emergencia, así como para hacer frente al cambio de clima y a las emergencias que este puede causar.

Entre los planes se encuentra reducir el límite de emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero que actualmente son de aproximadamente 91 millones de toneladas de CO2; reducir la dependencia en las plantas eléctricas centralizadas e incrementar el uso de fuentes alternativas de electricidad, con el fin de evitar apagones masivos como los ocurridos con el paso de Sandy; así como actualizar el código estatal de construcción para crear edificios más resistentes y durables.

El Gobernador anunció también varias estrategias para asistir a los propietarios de casas y negocios cuyas propiedades hayan resultado afectadas por Sandy entre ellas, la creación de los programa Recreate NY-Smart Home, el cual ofrecerá asistencia financiera para que los propietarios protejan sus propiedades de futuras amenazas; y Recreate NY-Home Buyout, diseñado para quienes deseen mudarse de sus propiedades afectadas.

Una estrategia a largo plazo para crear puertos más resistentes fue discutida por el Gobernador, así como la necesidad de desarrollar depósitos a prueba de inundaciones para trenes y buses; y fortalecer el sistema de distribución de combustible. El Gobernador también propuso la privatización de LIPA debido a los problemas de la compañía para restaurar la electricidad en los hogares afectados por Sandy.

Ante las propuestas del Gobernador, varios senadores estatales de LI reaccionaron positivamente y se mostraron comprometidos con continuar ayudando a los afectados. “El Gobernador reconoció la devastación causada por el Huracán Sandy”, indicó en un comunicado el Senador Lee Zeldin, “yo continuaré trabajando con él para asegurarme que nuestras comunidades reciban toda la ayuda que necesiten”. 

Agenda Social

Cuomo mencionó entre otras cosas su intención de finalizar con la práctica de “stop and frisk” utilizada por la policía para reducir el crimen, indicando que en muchos casos conlleva al deterioramiento de las relaciones entre la comunidad y los agentes del orden público. El gobernador indicó de igual forma que buscará despenalizar el porte de 15 gramos o menos de marihuana; crear un sistema de justicia más efectivo; y garantizar la equidad de la mujer.

La necesidad de incrementar el salario mínimo fue uno de los puntos en los que el Gobernador hizo énfasis durante su discurso y quizá uno de los que más han aplaudido las organizaciones que luchan por los derechos de los trabajadores. 

Cuomo propuso aumentar el salario mínimo a 8.75 dólares por hora bajo el argumento de que es de suma importancia incrementar el estándar de vida de los trabajadores y reducir el nivel de pobreza en el estado. Actualmente el salario mínimo en el estado es de 7.25 por hora, y se encuentra por debajo del salario ofrecido en 19 estados a nivel nacional.

El año pasado la Asamblea Estatal mostró su intención de aprobar un aumento al salario mínimo a 8.25 la hora, sin embargo la iniciativa no tuvo eco en el Senado, en donde la mayoría republicana aseguró que el aumento podría afectar a los dueños de negocios y por ende a la economía local. 

“Será critico en esta sesión legislativa aprobar un incremento del salario mínimo. Urgimos a la legislatura a trabajar con Cuomo para apoyar su propuesta”, indicó a través de un comunicado Deborah Axt, Codirectora Ejecutiva de Se Hace Camino NY, “aplaudimos al Gobernador Cuomo por su liderazgo en este crítico asunto para las familias trabajadoras”. 

Otras iniciativas que favorecerán a los neoyorquinos de bajos recursos incluyen la creación de un programa de vivienda asequible denominado House NY, mediante el cual se invertirá 1 billón de dólares en la construcción o preservación de más de 14,000 unidades de vivienda en los próximos 5 años; y la implementación de la agenda de oportunidad REDC, a través de la cual los concilios regionales se enfocarán en las comunidades necesitadas, identificando estrategias de desarrollo para mejorar estas zonas y creando planes para competir por subvenciones que permitan revitalizar a las mismas.

Cuomo no hizo mención en su discurso a ninguno de los temas que afectan a los residentes inmigrantes del estado.

“En el discurso que se dio a conocer no se menciona una sola vez la palabra inmigrante”, nota Daniel Altschuler, quien consideró “como preocupante” la no inclusión en el discurso del Gobernador de temas migratorios como el NY Dream Act o el programa Comunidades Seguras.

Osman Canales, fundador de Long Island Immigrant Students Association, indicó que varias organizaciones le pidieron a Cuomo mencionar en su discurso el tema del NY Dream Act a través de cartas y llamadas, “nos causó desilusión el ver que él no habló de estos temas tan importantes para nuestra comunidad inmigrante”, indicó Osman, “sorprende que él no siga con ese propósito de mantener las necesidades de la comunidad inmigrante en la agenda”.

Muchas de las propuestas mencionadas por el Gobernador en su discurso requieren la aprobación de la Legislatura del estado. Altschuler asegura que con el apoyo del Gobernador, es muy posible que temas como el aumento del salario mínimo puedan convertirse en realidad. “Cuando el gobernador está comprometido a un tema muestra que él si puede lograr cambios en la Legislatura”. 

Control de armas

Los recientes tiroteos a nivel nacional en los que han muerto niños y civiles impulsaron al Gobernador a crear una propuesta de ley para crear mayor control en la adquisición y porte de armas.

Durante su discurso, Cuomo anunció la propuesta y el lunes presentó formalmente ante la Legislatura el acta NY SAFE (Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement) la legislación más completa sobre control de armas en el país. El martes Cuomo firmó la nueva ley, luego de que el Senado y la Asamblea estatal aprobarán el proyecto de ley.

La nueva ley, será la primera en la nación en prohibir municiones de alta capacidad. De igual forma la ley prohibirá la venta de municiones con capacidad para 7 o más balas; y permitirá llevar a cabo verificaciones de antecedentes en tiempo real de las compras de municiones, con el fin de alertar a la policía sobre compradores de alto volumen.

La ley prohibirá también la venta de armas a personas con problemas de salud mental; así como la venta de armas de asalto, incluyendo pistolas semiautomáticas y rifles con compartimientos desmontables. De igual forma, se prohibirá el porte de armas de fuego en las escuelas, y las penas por el porte ilegal de armas serán más severas.

Mientras la legislación se debatía en la Asamblea Estatal el pasado martes, el Asambleísta Phil Ramos indicó que leyes de este tipo no violan la segunda enmienda de la constitución, “las leyes tienen que cambiar con los tiempos”, indicó.

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Examiner: Redistricting Coalition presents nonpartisan map to Nassau County Legislature

Redistricting Coalition presents nonpartisan map to Nassau County Legislature

Dozens of activists representing the Nassau County United Redistricting Coalition gathered on the steps of the Nassau County government building in Mineola to present an alternative redistricting map to the widely blasted Republican map that emerged from the Temporary Districting Advisory Commission.

Democrats on the commission also presented a map that was received somewhat better, in that it makes minimal changes to existing districts. But after seven months and $500,000 in taxpayer funding, neither of the maps received the necessary six votes to be officially recommended to the Nassau County Legislature, which is now free to consider any map it chooses, including the map created more than a year ago in secret by Nassau County Attorney John Ciampoli.

The Nassau County Legislature must vote to approve new maps for Nassau County by March 5th.

The coalition, consisting of a half-dozen good-government organizations, preparing its map in just a month's time and at a fraction of the $500,000 which was spent on the Commission, want its map to be considered by the Legislature.

And they are calling for transparency and a new series of public hearings.

They mocked the Republican map which was introduced without backup or explanation as "shameless partisanship and self-dealing," "egregious" and "gerrymandering" in order to create a permanent 12-7 supermajority on the County Legislature.

In contract, the Coalition map has extensive explanation of the demographics, including an overlay that shows the minimal changes in lines from each existing district.

The Coalition map shows that it is quite possible to create districts that are compact, contiguous and still fall within the allowed +/-5 percent of the targeted population, 70,573 (includes prison population).

During the press conference, the three maps were put up against each other, and the contrast especially with the Republican map - widely panned as a crazy quilt or a Swiss cheese and a blatant exercise in gerrymandering.

The proposed Republican map displaces 680,000 people into new districts - that means that half of Nassau County's 1,340,882 total population would be uprooted to new districts, an unprecedented proportion.

In contrast, the 2003 redistricting map resulted in 50,000 people being shifted into new districts. Then map proposed by Democrats displaces a minimal number of voters, since they approached the project from the perspective of minimal changes to existing districts.

The Coalition map offers the most compact, contiguous districts, and for the most part keeps villages and towns intact.

The Coalition map corrects some of the most egregious mash ups of the Republican map - which ripped away Kings Point, Saddle Rock and parts of the Village of Great Neck from the 10th District and attaching them to the 11th district - a change which would dilute the Jewish vote substantially. The coalition map keeps the Great Neck Peninsula intact, and combines parts of New Hyde Park which is part of the Great Neck School District, plus Herricks, Searingtown. This change means that the Asian population will increase from 16% to 21%.

The Republican map also was broadly derided for tearing the Five Towns into three or four parts. The coalition map keeps the Five Towns (District 7) intact and meets the population target by taking off Island Park and Harbor Isle and putting them where they are geographically connected, with Long Beach, which is kept together.

The biggest changes - reflecting the growth in population- are in Districts #2 and #9.

In the Coalition plan, District #2 is now much more compact - that area, Garden City, is where the population really grew.. "Every plan has to have major changes to #2," said Brian Paul, Research and Policy Coordinator for New York Common Cause, who was the principal mapmaker.

But he added, "This plan is subject to improvement based on what the community says."

District #9 has the biggest change: putting New Castle with Mineola, making the district much more diverse, but keeping it entirely within North Hempstead.

"We tried to follow village borders," Paul said. "We started by analyzing the current map based on the criteria, and how best to keep communities together and make districts more compact.

"With technology, it doesn't take that long to draw a plan," he said, saying that it took him a month - including holding meetings and making presentations with the member groups- and at a fraction of the cost the Commission spent.

The coalition is funded with a grant from the Hagedorn Foundation (www.hagedornfoundation.org), which supports and promotes social equity across Long Island.

The Coalition consists of six different organizations: Common Cause/NY, La Fuente-Long Island Civic Participation Project, Latino Justice PRLDEF, League of Women Voters of Nassau County, Long Island Civic Engagement Table, and Nassau County Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Paul said that the Republican map that the Commission proposed is "egregious". "We thought the state process was horrible, but at least they made the information public. We can't even get the proper files from the commission. The Democrats released half of the information; the republicans didn't release anything. they are not interested in transparency.

"This is extremely important for the voting rights affecting all Nassau County," said Fred Brewington, an attorney and activist "the Republican plan moves over half of the population to different districts, separates brother from brother, sister from sister. The whole point of redistricting is completely unfair and insidious" especially in the way District 2 and District 10 were divided.

"I am serving notice, to let them know we're not going to take this no more," he said. "We will take them to court. Be ready, because we are."

(View the Nassau United Redistricting Coalition’s plan here:www.nassauunitedredistricting.org/coalition-plan/)

“Nassau County voters are being systematically disenfranchised as pawns in the partisan power grab which has become the redistricting process,” said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY. "The Coalition Plan is being presented to the Legislature as a viable alternative to demonstrate there are no practical obstacles to creating a fair plan.”

“By listening to Nassau County residents and applying fair redistricting principles our Coalition was able to draft a preliminary map in this important decennial decision on governance and democracy,” said Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel, LatinoJustice. “We urge the County Legislature to restore trust and conduct an open process to ensure full community engagement for a new districting plan before its vote in March 2013.”

“The League of Women Voters of Nassau County was very disappointed in the advisory commission. They did have hearings around the county, but didn’t seem to listen to the comments," said Barbara Epstein. In addition the meeting the maps were presented on January 3 with no discussion amongst the commission members. We hope that the legislature will give serious consideration to our map and do what is in the best interests of the residents of Nassau County not their political parties.”

“This Temporary Districting Advisory Commission has really been a waste of time, other than to provide the public with another example of how elected officials and their appointees waste tax payer dollars,” said Lucia Gomez of La Fuente Long Island Civic Participation Project. “Every resident of Nassau should be disappointed with the TDAC’s proposed maps and support our Coalition’s proposal, and ask their legislator to do the same.”

“Nassau legislators must stop their shameful efforts to divide communities of color” said Daniel Altschuler of the Long Island Civic Engagement Table. “Common-sense redistricting is essential for a healthy democracy, but unfortunately the new map proposed by County Republicans seems designed to dilute the power of Nassau’s growing African-American, Latino, and immigrant communities. Immigrants and communities of color are a growing part of Nassau and deserve fair representation, not the gerrymandering we see in the proposed maps.”

“Fair and equal representation is the cornerstone of American democracy, and improper redistricting can result in unequal representation in voting districts, dilution of minority votes, and fractured communities,” said Jason Starr, Director of the Nassau Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “The Nassau County Legislature has the responsibility to protect public confidence by conducting an open and transparent process to develop a new districting plan.”

“I live in Elmont and I’m sick and tired of seeing partisan officials trying to silence my community and other communities of color across Nassau County,” said Mimi Pierre Johnson from New York Communities for Change and the Long Island Civic Engagement Table. “All it takes is one look at the maps proposed by county Republicans to see that the new districts don’t make any sense for our communities. These maps were designed by politicians to help other politicians, and dilute the power of my neighbors and myself. We demand fair maps, districts that make sense, and equal representation!”

\"With no money, we came up with a better map," said Jackson Chin, Latino Justice. "We want to make sure the next decade is not one of hyper partisanship and dysfunction."

Coalition Demands for the County Legislature

"The Coalition is demanding that the Legislature put an end to partisan dysfunction and move forward with a fair, transparent process in the best interest of the County and all its residents," the Coalition stated.

- The Legislature must release its proposed redistricting plan to the public by January 25, 2013, one month in advance of the next scheduled public legislative session.

- At least four public hearings must be held on the proposal during the following two weeks and the public’s comments shall be considered.

- The Legislature must give serious consideration to the non-partisan proposal of the Nassau United Redistricting Coalition and allow an opportunity for the coalition to present the plan to the Legislature in further detail.

- The Legislature’s redistricting plans must be made publicly available according to the practices of other New York redistricting processes (e.g. LATFOR at the state level, the NYC Districting Commission). This entails the release of PDF maps, demographic spreadsheets, and block equivalency files via the County website and an opportunity for the public to comment on any maps and submit testimony electronically.

- The Legislature’s redistricting plans must be accompanied by written descriptions of the districts and explanations of the criteria and reasoning behind their shapes.

- The final plan the Legislature will vote on must be released to the public one week in advance of the final vote. The public must be allowed an opportunity to comment on the final proposed plan before the Legislature’s vote.

The Nassau County United Redistricting Coalition will be holding an informational webinar presenting the Coalition Plan and comparing it to the plans proposed by the Temporary Districting Advisory Commission on Thursday, January 17 at 10:30am.

The Coalition will also be hosting a series of public forums in key locations around the county in late January and February, dates to be announced at www.nassauunitedredistricting.org

Nassau County United Redistricting Coalition Map

The Nassau County United Redistricting Coalition determined to draft a reform redistricting plan after witnessing repeated displays of partisan dysfunction by the Legislature’s Temporary Districting Commission.

"The Temporary Districting Commission did little at the hearings to reflect any sort of “'i-partisan' character, openly acknowledging that they operate as two functionally-separate entities. So we are left with a process that has failed to honor the spirit of the county charter. And proposals that, because of the failures of the process, cannot be said to reflect the realities as expressed by the people. Our sentiment is that process has been neither fair nor non-partisan, and we question the legitimacy of districts drawn without real public input," the Coalition stated.

"The Nassau United Reform Redistricting Plan offers a clear alternative to the partisan dysfunction and hyper-partisan gerrymandering that has come to characterize the Legislature’s official process. Instead of treating Nassau voters as political pawns to be divided or pitted against one another for the benefit of one party or the other, this Coalition draft plan begins with the existing Legislative districts and adjusts them based on the following traditional, objective redistricting criteria." These are:

  1. Equal Population – follow the principle of “one person, one vote” in the US Constitution by drawing districts and exercising good faith to create equipopulous districts with a population deviation of no more than +/- 5% from the ideal average value.
  2. Voting Rights Act/Fair Representation for Racial and Language Minorities – ensure that districts maintain the rights of minority (racial and linguistic) groups to have a fair opportunity to elect their preferred candidates and to engage in the democratic process. Nassau County legislative redistricting should reflect the strong growth in the County’s minority communities. From 2000 to 2010, the non-Hispanic white voting age population declined by nearly 9%. NH Black VAP rose by 17% while Hispanic VAP and NH Asian VAP rose even faster, increasingly by 49% and 68% respectively
  3. Respect for Political Subdivisions — district lines should respect the borders of towns and villages whenever possible, keeping residents with common interest together in a single district and helping facilitate a stronger relationship between town and village officials and their county-level representatives.
  4. Respect for Communities of Interest — generally defined as a local population with shared socio-economic characteristics and political institutions that would benefit from unified representation by a single legislator. A local community with unified and cohesive political leadership tends to have stronger influence in the legislature. On the other hand, if a community with shared interests is redrawn and divided by political district lines, the representation of those interests will also be divided and weakened.
  5. Compactness & Contiguity – district shapes should be as compact as possible and districts should connect separate areas divided by water or other impassible features.
  6. Limiting Uses of Partisanship and Political Data — follow an “incumbent blind” process and one that does not utilize any political data (percentages and actual data related to voter registration, voters’ membership data by political parties, election races, turnout rates by precinct, etc.) or seek to advantage any particular political party in drawing the lines.

The Coalition’s proposed district map reflects the critical districting principles and attempts to respect the important districting principle of maintaining communities of interest as well as reflecting their community growth trajectories.

Paul noted that the Coalition map, dated January 3, 2013, is subject to further change and revisions in the coming weeks as it receives comments and information from additional residents and community groups who seek to become engaged in this process. "The broadening of community input and participation is an important objective to the decennial districting process which often occurs with insufficient transparency and a want of fairness."

The Coalition will therefore timely submit subsequent versions of the United Reform Map for Nassau County along with their corresponding census data and other factors, to members of the Nassau County Legislature.

The non-partisan Coalition has a publicly accessible website that invites public participation and dialogue.

For more information, visit www.nassauunitedredistricting.org.

Karen Rubin, Long Island Populist Examiner

© 2013 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved.

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New App Puts Tools To Fight Voter Suppression In Your Hands

Text OURVOTE to 90975 to verify registration status, check voting rules, find polling locations and report potential voting obstructions

(Washington, DC) – The new Election Protection app, available on all major mobile devices, is the most powerful election protection tool available today.The app was created to empower voters and to ensure that all eligible voters can cast their ballots and have them counted this Election Day.

One of the most important features of the app is the ability to ask questions or report any type of voting problem directly to a team of highly trained volunteers and tap into a coalition of attorneys and legal experts at the national and local level to immediately answer questions and pursue remedies.

“The development of this app was a true collaboration of organizations that are each focused on helping all eligible Americans vote and determined to put the power to protect voting rights directly in the hands of voters," said Eric Marshall of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

This app, designed and built by Revolution Messaging, turns your mobile phone into a citizen watch dog tool and gives you the ability to connect to the national Voter Protection network by downloading the app from iTunes, or by texting “OURVOTE” to 90975. You can even use your phone's GPS & camera features (iPhone users) to take a photo of the potential violation and geo-tag it to the exact location of the incident!

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Don't Lose Your Voice at the Ballot Box

By DANIEL ALTSCHULER, Newsday

Call it the biggest political problem in New York that you've never heard of. Among all 50 states, New York consistently ranks near the bottom in voter turnout.

In 2008, 59 percent of eligible New York voters cast ballots in the presidential election, compared with nearly 62 percent nationally, according to George Mason University's U.S. Elections Project. Data also show that in the 2010 midterm elections, our state ranked dead last in turnout among eligible voters.

New York voters abstain for various reasons, including too many elections throughout the year, and a lack of competition in most local and state races because of gerrymandering.

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