Dan Janison has been a reporter at Newsday since 1997.
Anyone who'd care already knows that state legislative maps released last week mark only a first cut at redistricting. Insiders expect in coming weeks a mix of vetoes, posturing and court action before these lines, and new congressional lines, can be set.
But the new renderings do reflect the ambitions of partisan leaders.
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) proved unwilling to tamper significantly with his bloc of nine Long Island seats. Two seats that went Democratic for a while, forcing Skelos into the minority, returned to the GOP last year, along with his majority.
But Senate Republicans haven't regained seats lost in Queens. That's where Skelos' team did creative cartography. It groups in one district Democratic incumbents Toby Stavisky with Anthony Avella, who unseated GOP Sen. Frank Padavan in 2010, and puts Democratic Sens. Jose Peralta and Michael Gianaris in another. Neither of those moves is expected to stand, however.
Of more potential import, perhaps, is the 15th Senate District of Democrat Joseph Addabbo Jr. of Ozone Park, who ousted Republican Serphin Maltese in 2008. The new rendering would give it a more conservative demographic in the Rockaways. GOP Councilman Eric Ulrich could be a contender.
For Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), recouping a two-thirds house majority looks like the goal.
COURT DEMO: A prosecution involving state funds returns this week to Mineola. Last month, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced indictments of four people in the alleged pocketing of nearly $30,000 from a nonprofit entity. They pleaded not guilty. Member-item funds from State Sen. Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica) to Parent Workshop Inc. are at issue.
With the accused due Wednesday before Nassau Judge John Kase, Clergy United for Community Empowerment, led by the Rev. Charles Norris Sr., plans to protest the prosecution outside the court at 9 a.m. (Records show his group has received tens of thousands of dollars via Huntley's office for its programs.)
Huntley has expressed shock at the charges. Lawyer Phil Solages, representing defendant Patricia Savage of Valley Stream -- a Huntley aide identified as the nonprofit's president -- said: "The outpouring of support from such esteemed members of our community is indicative of the character of my client. It is our position that upon a full examination and accounting of the relevant documents, there will be no finding of criminal culpability."