After hearing from some 70 speakers at its last public hearing Thursday, Nassau’s advisory redistricting commission will not be making any recommendations for a new legislative district map when it turns its records over to the county legislature.
The 10-member commission could not agree on any of three maps it will be submitting to the legislature Saturday: one proposed by the five Republican commissioners, another by five Democrats and a third submitted by the Nassau County United Redistricting Coalition, a group composed of Common Cause, La Fuente-Long Island Civic Participation Project, Latino Justice PRLDEF, and the League of Women Voters of Nassau County.
The county charter calls for the commission to submit its recommendations for redrawing the legislature's 19 districts by Jan. 5, but it’s up to the Republican-controlled legislature to accept a plan, revise it or adopt its own map by March 5.
Thursday's packed public hearing in Mineola began with Democrats goading Republican commissioners to discuss their proposed map rather than allow commission chairman Frank Moroney to present it. But Republicans remained largely silent throughout the evening, leaving Moroney to deflect the Democrats' gibes.
For instance, Democratic Commissioner Robert McDonald pointed out that Moroney, a Republican appointed by Republican County Executive Edward Mangano, is a nonvoting member who chairs the entire commission. Thus, he said, Moroney should remain neutral rather than advocate for the GOP map.
Moroney responded, “It is easier for the chair to give the explanation.”
Democratic Commissioner David Mejias said, “Since the Republican map is being presented by the county executive appointee, we can infer the county executive is speaking through you. This must be a map he is in favor of.”
Moroney returned, “Your inference is incorrect.”
Bonnie Garone, leader of the Democratic commissioners, complained that Republicans would not work with Democrats, which, she said, makes a mockery of the charter’s mandate of a bipartisan commission. She also said the commission was ignoring the public by not trying to incorporate their latest suggestions before submitting the maps to the legislature.
Republicans “made believe they followed the charter,” she said afterward. “The entire process was orchestrated by Ed Mangano’s hand-picked chairman.”
But Moroney said he believes the commission provided for more public input than Democrats did 10 years ago when they controlled the legislature. He also said that two commission meetings were canceled because of the sudden death of Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa) followed by superstorm Sandy.
“Overall, I would give the process an A-plus,” he said. “Even though no map has the stamp of approval, the county legislature will have all those maps and information. From an advisory point of view they have a lot more information to work from than 10 years ago. . . You can’t judge the process because you’re not happy with the outcome.”