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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.       

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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