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Editorial: Suffolk Leg. lets voters down

The Suffolk County Legislature hears a report on

The Suffolk County Legislature hears a report on the county's deficit in a meeting at at the William H. Rogers Building in Hauppauge. (March 6, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday/Karen Wiles Stabile

The carving of maps for districts of the Suffolk County Legislature has sliced up too many communities, forcing citizens to lobby two county legislators instead of one. That undesirable result for the next decade came from the Democrat-controlled legislature, not from an independent commission. It's exactly the sort of thing redistricting is supposed to avoid.

In 2007, the legislature and former County Executive Steve Levy decided to put the process in the hands of a commission that was as nonpartisan as they could make it. The timing made sense: In 2007, nobody could predict who would control the legislature in 2012 and 2013, when the new maps would be drawn, based on the 2010 census. So both parties took a chance.

The commission was moving slowly, and the Democratic majority couldn't resist the temptation of doing the redistricting by itself to protect the incumbency of its members. But there was no need to rush -- the next regular election for the legislature is 2013. So there was still time for the commission to do its work.

At the legislature's meeting last week, it adopted the flawed maps. People in Hauppauge won't be happy, because after the 2013 election, it will be split between Legis. John M. Kennedy Jr. (R-Nesconset) and Legis. Thomas Cilmi (R-East Islip).

Similarly, the maps nibble at the district represented by Legis. Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches), giving pieces of Wading River, Ridge, East Yaphank, Manorville, Calverton, Eastport and East Moriches to other legislators. Romaine lost the whole Town of Shelter Island to Legis. Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk). Romaine expected that, because his district was too populous, but he felt splitting communities hurt the interests of citizens.

In Wheatley Heights, one election district will go from Legis. DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) to Legis. Lou D'Amaro (D-North Babylon). Its residents protested.

The independent commission deserved a chance to do better than this. But the Democrats saw their chance to let legislators choose their voters, instead of the reverse. So they took it. An undemocratic move by a party called Democratic.