Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York City who is now biding his time poking and prodding the state Legislature, is saying that your local legislator is an "enemy of reform."
Sens. Joe Griffo and Patty Ritchie and Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush, Mr. Koch said, have reneged on pledges to change the way the state slices up its legislative districts.
The current procuess, one good-government chief hilariously said, was the Charlie Sheen method: "It's all about winning."
The party that controls the process draws the lines in such a way to maintain their majorities — no matter what fairness or continuity or geographical integrity would have to say about it.
Mr. Griffo, Mr. Blankenbush and Mrs. Ritchie pledged in the election season to change the way they go about doing that. But because the trio have failed to sign onto Gov. Andrew Cuomo's legislation that would actually do so, Mr. Koch said that they're backing out of their pledges.
The standard response so far has fallen along the following lines, (with Mr. Koch's retorts in parenthesis).
* Democrats get six appointments to the nominating panel, Republicans get two. (That's not tre, Mr. Koch notes. The legislation, in fact, requires that there be four Republicans and four Democrats. Andrew Cuomo gets four appointments, and the majority and minority party leaders in the Assembly and Senate get one each. Mr. Cuomo has said that he'll give two of his appointments to the Senate Republican leader, meaning that the Senate, in fact, will have the most power in the process.)
* Mr. Cuomo's legislation carries with it constitutional concerns. (Mr. Koch says that this is untrue, and if the renegers had a problem with this before, they should have said so before they made their pledge.
* We carried out our pledge by passing a redistricting bill via constitutional amendment. (Because of the way in which constitutional amendments become law — must be passed by two successive Legislatures and go to a public referendum — the legislation won't be ready until 2022. Meaning that for the next 10 years, we're going to see districts that look like Abe Lincoln mowing a lawn.)
Here's Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush's response, in a nutshell:
Robocalls are annoying, and Mr. Cuomo's legislation is NOT what I signed up for when I signed this pledge.
"I am appalled that someone as respected as Mayor Ed Koch would resort to making inflammatory robo-dialed calls suggesting that lawmakers such as myself are ‘Enemies of Reform' for not rubber-stamping Governor Cuomo's redistricting bill," Mr. Blankenbush said in a news release. "I can tell you a couple of things: Mr. Koch knows nothing about this district, let alone me."
Mr. Blankenbush goes on to point out that he's supported a redistricting bill (the constitutional problem mentioned above) and that the governor has more power in the process (the 6-to-2 conundrum that I mentioned above).
"Mayor Koch's latest gimmick is just another example of New York City politicians bullying Upstate and I'm going to tenaciously defend our interests," Mr. Blankenbush said. "I'm not going to fold over a little pressure from downstate special interests. Our North Country voters are smarter than Albany and New York City believes – and they aren't going to buy into this disingenuous reform plan.”