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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.

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.