Analysis, discussion and opinions by members of Newsday's editorial board.


McKinstry: Yonkers bickering is no way to represent the city

Yonkers City Hall (May 30, 2012)

Yonkers City Hall (May 30, 2012) (Credit: John Goff)

There was a turncoat, an Oscar award and a vote so confusing that politicians were left scratching their heads -- even after several intermissions.

The Yonkers City Council held a special meeting on electoral redistricting Monday that no lawmakers should be proud of -- that is if they actually know what happened.

In fact, the four-hour carnival ended with no resolution. It was a pathetic display of governance. No wonder so many people in this city seem to have lost faith in government.

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During the meeting, highlighted by hours of arguments over motions, meanings and legalities, Majority Leader Wilson Terrero, a Democrat, joined three Republicans as part of a compromise supporting Mayor Mike Spano's proposal to redraw council district lines.

Before the meeting, the mayor, a Democrat, rightly stepped in after months of partisan wrangling between Democrats and Republicans. His plan encompasses aspects of both proposals.

When Terrero announced his support for a compromise, City Council President Chuck Lesnick, a Democrat, chided him: “You're a majority leader — act like one.”

The sharp political barbs flew back and forth all afternoon. At one point, Minority Leader John Larkin walked up to Lesnick and sarcastically gave him an award. A fake Oscar, Larkin said, for “best performance by an actor in fictional story.”

While the compromise was one of the few positives, the 4-3 vote for the mayor's plan was eventually tossed on technical grounds since it needed approval by a supermajority, or five council members, because it did not sit in a committee for the required eight days. (City lawyers, after a long recess, eventually agreed that the supermajority was needed.)

At one point at the meeting, Councilman Christopher Johnson quipped, “This is embarrassing.”

Yeah. It sure was.

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