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The Voice of New Rochelle: You Have Been Re-diss-tricted

New Rochelle residents have been made fools of by their elected officials during the recent redistricting of State Senate District 37. It is not the first time, and it won’t be the last.

There is an old saying that if you are in a room full of people and someone tells a joke that you don’t get, the joke is probably on you.

Another idea along these lines is the character and plot development of TV situation comedies. The funniest and most regrettable people are those so clueless they don’t ever see through their own—well—cluelessness. Think Colonel Klink on the old series Hogan’s Heroes.

Well, this joke is on us.

Much has been said and written in the last two weeks about the outrageous redistricting put forward by the Albany legislature resulting in incomprehensible and illogical geographic boundaries for state senate districts, one here in New Rochelle, the other in Ossining. For the purposes of this discussion, we will dismiss the Ossining case except to say that there ought to be a law that allows us to place our gerrymandering elected officials into that city’s famous correctional institution.

As for the Queen City, we should be embarrassed by such an egregious, self-serving and tyrannical violation of our rights. In this instance, the insult was served up by Republicans to try and take hold of the traditionally Democratic seat soon to be freed up by the retirement of Suzie Oppenheimer. But few if any doubt that the Democrats would do the same had they the power to do so. Word is that the governor will veto the proposed new districts, but this piece is not about District 37 (see www.latfor.state.ny.us/maps), as such. It is, though, about you and me.

How did we allow our elected officials to become so confident in our ignorance and disinterest that they had no qualms about perpetrating such blatant abuse? How is it that a city rich in doctors, lawyers, professors, teachers, stock brokers and honest tradesmen and women could allow their rights—sacred rights, if you believe in democracy—to be taken so lightly?

Just the other day on my radio show a resident I admire, and who is anything but uninvolved, said that some people just don’t care abut this stuff, and don’t pay attention to such matters. My answer then and now is the same: If you don’t want to be involved, fine. Then abdicate your responsibilities as you see fit. 

A nicer way to put it, perhaps, is to delegate them. Oh, wait, that involves representative democracy, the very right that is manipulated and expropriated. Some say that not being involved forfeits our right to complain. Fortunately, it never does. It might make one a naïve fool, but it does not take away our privileges. The other good fortune is that it is never too late.

I implore you to look at the Web site I noted above. When you do, I can only hope that you take it personally. Because while the people that did this thought we were asleep at the switch, they made quite the fool out of us. This is what our elected officials are capable of when they think we don’t care. They think the process—indeed your city—belongs to them.

Go easy on them at first. They are our monsters, created by us. Many of them are good people who have been out of touch so long they think that this is a necessary part of the job. But do call your representative—if you know who he or she is—and scream bloody murder. At least call the governor. 

Or, you can just sit there and take it. In that case, I ask that the next time you watch your favorite sitcom you look for the most clueless character. 

Alternatively, it might be easier to go look in the mirror.       

Robert McCaffrey February 29, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Now that the shoe is on the other foot, the drawing of district lines is a comedy or a joke. Democratic or Republican, we are experiencing the worst in Reality TV. It is not Comedy Central or TV Land. It has an effect on people that don’t feel they have a true voice any longer. It isn’t funny anymore. Politics, corruption, influence pedaling and money have taken any type of control out of the hands of the everyday citizen. We see that on News 12 and Channel 75. Where was the outrage a few months ago when the lines for the New Rochelle districts were drawn? I guess you had the shopping network on or you were watching another channel. I don’t say this because I am a republican. I say it because we live in a time where lines and political philosophy are more important than ideas and the needs of the people. Many of which can’t even afford cable TV because their taxes are getting out of control. Maybe we can get Fred and Lamont Sanford to pick up our garbage so we can stop paying the garbage fee. We need to take the process of drawing boundary lines out of the hands of politician and put it in the control of the people. Maybe the I-Pad3 will have an APP for that. Maybe Warren was watching Mr. Ed or Green Acers the other night when he spoke and not the City Council meetings on channel 75.
Bob Marrone February 29, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Robert, You comments about outrage now or later are fair game. I was a little slow to this party and it took a couple of these events for me to see the extent of the problem. My feelings about the issue iissue Thank you for your comments.
Billy February 29, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Who really cares so long as there's balance of power in Albany which means the Republicans need to retain control of the NYS Senate? We all saw the sham that the New Rochelle Democrats made of our local redistricting process so I don't see any difference here, except who's complaining. It would be nice if New Rochelle's government had balance of power, but it doesn't (in part because the above-mentioned redistricting process) so we get what we get; a poorly run city which surprises me because with 1 party rule you'd think they’d get something right but somehow it doesn’t.
Ina Aronow February 29, 2012 at 08:51 PM
I just got a letter from Mr. Bob Cohen announcing that he was running for State Senator in my district. No you, aren't Mr. Cohen. I have just been gerrymandered out of District 37 if the proposed lines take effect. I understand that it is very hard to tell who in New Rochelle would be in District 35 versus 37. But if you want to represent the constituents in District 37, your first step is to find out who they are. Not easy considering the contorted, zigzagging lines that are proposed. Then again, are you sure you still are in District 37? Ina Aronow
newrochellesouth March 01, 2012 at 03:22 AM
Do we have to go back to the utter hypocrisy of Ira Aronow and to the new hypocrisy of Bob Marrone? Where were you when the citizens of New Rochelle were redistricted into one party rule. I know where you were, you were part of the cheering squad for the new Democratic, Mayor Bramson created District lines. You have forfeited your right to speak to this issue as anything but a partisan. If you complain about this issue because your looking out for good government you are full of......cynicism. Please admit your partisanship so at least your conversations and comments will be honest. "This kind of gerrymandering leads to noncompetitive races and, many believe more polarized government." Oh, wait that was said by Ira Aronow. You did nothing to assure fair redistricting in New Rochelle, except you did give cover to the Majority Party on the City Council in the redistricting of New Rochelle into one party rule. You are a Partisan, you are not independent, the LWV only cares about the redistricting of the state becuase it is being done by Republicans. Your actions and comments on this issue reveal your partisan agenda. You chose sides in a partisan battle, tough luck if it doesn't work out for your party. When you act cynically, while claiming virtue, the result is greater cynicism all around. Your cynicism destroys trust in instituions that we need to be non-partisan. Resign and restore the non-partisan standing of the LWV. Bob, get a clue.
Ina Aronow March 02, 2012 at 04:30 AM
Dear Mr. Anonymous Person from the South Side: It would help the conversation if you would address the issue at hand and not spew out unfair and inaccurate personal attacks towards people you disagree with. You haven't even spelled my name right. The gerrymandering issue is a matter of concern to both Republicans and Democrats. The League's position supports a nonpartisan, independent commission to draw credible district lines. Ina Aronow
newrochellesouth March 02, 2012 at 01:33 PM
So why didn't you support the Citizens Committee for the redistricitng of New Rochelle, Ina? When they were formed your only comment here was: "It is my understanding of the article that this committee is a group of citizens that have taken it upon themselves to study the census data and make recommendations for redistricting is simply that and has no official standing. That's fine. Any other group of people can do the same. However, the City Council has the legal right to determine the districts, and the composition of any group that would advise them. They have started off well with a statement of principles that promise a fair, transparent procedure. They have hired an expert who as a professional should be above any party considerations, and with the tight time frame, that makes sense. Ina Aronow" Did you try to contact the Citizens and have your questions answered? You did not support .." a nonpartisan, independent commission to draw credible district lines.". You supported the City Council and its expert who gave us the gerrymandered one party rule Districts that the City residents are stuck with for the next 10 years. You were for the process when it favored Democrats and you are against the process when it favors Republicans. Now you are being "hoisted by your own petard" and you don't like it. Too bad. I think that your position is both hypocritical and cynical. Feel free to disagree. Signed, Mr. (Ms., Mrs., Dr.?) Anonymous Person from the South Side
Billy March 02, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Isn't the LWV supposed to be non-partisan? Since she's obviously not non-partisan, Ms. Aronow should resign immediately. I knew those debates were skewed and now we have the proof!
Ina Aronow March 02, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Dear Anonymous: The Citizens Committee was a self-appointed group who had a right to draw lines and present it to the council, who for better or worse, have the final say, according to the law. They had the same stature as Common Cause, who has now proposed lines for state legislative districts. I am not passing judgment on either. I don't know to what extent the city may have been gerrymandered but surely nothing as dysfunctional and blatant as the proposed lines for the state senate. The League supports a nonpartisan independent process for all levels of government. And I think that people who disagree should look for common ground and exchange of ideas and not get polarized. Ina Aronow
Billy March 02, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Sorry but you can't have it both ways, complain about 1 set of lines (the 1s that don't fit your political agenda/affiliation) while endorsing another set of district lines that were equally gerrymandered simply becasue they suit your political affilation. Please resign & leave your post now, you've done enough damage to the system already. Don't worry, I'm sure some Democratic operative will hook you up with a job.
Ina Aronow March 02, 2012 at 11:30 PM
I see some real differences, but I don't think we will ever agree, so there is no point continuing this discussion. You are simply being insulting.

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