Transcript of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's comments to the press Thursday on whether he will accept the new electoral maps released today by the NYS Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR):
Question from a reporter: "If you have said that the LATFOR process, by definition, is a political process, and you've threatened to veto anything that was partisan, political, non-independent, how can you step back from a veto at this late date?"
Cuomo: "Well, my position hasn't changed. I want an independent commission to draw the lines. That's my position. Some people will say it's impossible to have an independent commission draw the lines. My position is it's possible to have an independent commission draw the lines. I want a better process and a better product."
Question: "So are you saying you will veto then, without it?"
Cuomo: "That is my position."
Later, Cuomo spokesman Joshua Vlasto said: "At first glance, these lines are simply unacceptable and would be vetoed by the governor. We need a better process and product."
MAJORITY LEADER SKELOS CALLS MAPS FAIR
"The Senate plan is fair, legal and protects minority voting interests. It complies with the State Constitution, the U.S. Constitution, state and federal laws, and the Federal Voting Rights Act.
"The new draft district lines are the result of an open and transparent process. The boundaries were drafted after the Task Force coordinated 14 public hearings in every corner of the state, taking 55 hours of testimony from more than 375 witnesses.
"The population of each Senate district fully complies with the requirements of the state constitution, including 'town on border,' 'block on border' and is well within the standard required by the U.S. Supreme Court.
"The plan provides continuity by largely preserving the cores of existing districts. In fact, the vast majority of new districts contain three-fourths or more of their old districts.
"Consistent with the Voting Rights Act, the Senate plan protects minority representation by maintaining or strengthening every African American district in New York City -- despite the loss of nearly 100,000 African Americans since the last census.
"The plan maintains Hispanic populations in currently represented Hispanic districts, and even increases the Hispanic population in a number of districts.
"The task force maintains "communities of interest" together whenever possible, including consolidation of the Orthodox Jewish community into one Brooklyn Senate district rather than five Senate districts. The Senate plan also includes a first-ever majority Asian-American Senate district anchored in Flushing, Queens. The Task Force will also seek additional public input on uniting "communities of interest" in the coming weeks.
"The plan adds a 63rd Senate seat, as required by the formulas under Article III of the State Constitution. That seat is located in the Capital Region and Upper Hudson Valley, which experienced the largest percentage increase of population growth in the state since the 2000 U.S. census."
The new draft Senate district lines can be accessed at http://www.latfor.state.ny.us/maps
McENENY: DISTRICTS HAVE NEARLY EQUAL POPULATIONS
Assemb. John J. McEneny, co-chairman of the New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment, issued this statement Thursday on the release of proposed maps for State Assembly and Senate districts:
"The Assembly plan released today by the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR) is the culmination of a months-long process to reshape New York's electoral map based on shifts in population that have occurred over the last decade. Our proposal is responsive to the many individuals across the state who offered oral or written testimony to the Task Force.
"In particular, good government groups have asked that we make districts as nearly equal in population as practicable. Toward that end we have drawn districts that have less disparity than is required by law and closer to equality than the current lines. The proposed Assembly districts - with one exception, which was drawn to avoid crossing a county line - have a population deviation of less than four percent. This is a plan which moves us more toward a key reform.
"As part of the process, we took into consideration and incorporated many elements of proposals submitted in map form by numerous voting rights and good government groups, private citizens and public officials. We are grateful to them all for helping us with this constitutionally mandated task and look forward to further interaction and suggestions as we make our way across the state a second time to receive more input."
KOCH UNHAPPY WITH PROPOSED MAPS
Former New York Mayor Edward Koch, founder of New York Uprising, an organization that advocated nonpartisan redistricting of New York State's electoral districts, made the following statement Thursday following the release of the proposed legislative redistricting plan:
"No surprise, I am disappointed in this result and in the dishonorable lawmakers who openly pledged to do things differently this year, and then reneged when it wasn't to their political advantage. What a shame: this is not reform in letter or in spirit. Today, victory lies with the Enemies of Reform.
"Governor Cuomo ran for office pledging to reform the way our state works, and to date, he's kept his word. His decision now -- whether to honor his pledge and veto the gerrymandered map or whether to allow the legislature to get away with a self-serving map -- is a key test of his leadership. Just this afternoon the Governor said his position has not changed, which I applaud him for, and I have every confidence he will keep his word to the people of New York and veto the proposed maps.
"I have no regrets about taking on this battle; I know that the fight for reform is a long war, and I care too much about New York to stand aside. I am proud that we have focused New Yorkers' attention on redistricting, which will carry enormous consequences for years to come."
New York Uprising's statement said: "Although the Supreme Court's recent decision regarding the Texas redistricting leaves in doubt the impact a court can have on the redistricting process, the outcome in New York is not yet settled as states continue to grapple with the issue. In fact, just yesterday the top court in Pennsylvania ordered the legislative redistricting commission to come up with a new plan and ruled that the current district lines will stand until then.
"All signed pledges can be downloaded freely at www.nyuprising.org. For pledges If you are looking for a pledge from a specific legislator, you may email the request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"New York Uprising, founded by former NYC Mayor Ed Koch, is a non-partisan coalition dedicated to reforming New York's dysfunctional state government. It is led by Mayor Koch along with a Board of Trustees that includes former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former NYS Governor Mario Cuomo, former NYS Comptroller Ned Regan, former US Congressman Herman Badillo, former Ambassador Felix Rohatyn, former Deputy Mayor Alair Townsend, former Deputy Mayor Rudy Washington, former Deputy Mayor Peter J. Solomon and former Deputy Mayor John Zuccotti.''