This editorial appeared in the Albany Times Union on Jan. 15.
Our position: Good-government groups refuse to be shut out. Whose side will Governor Cuomo take? They're watching you, Governor Cuomo. You, too, all you influential state legislators. The most civic-minded of New York's citizens aren't letting you off the hook when it comes to overcoming the same old partisan politics in redrawing state Assembly and Senate district boundaries for this fall's elections.
Oh, they've compromised, these folks known as goo-goos -- short for good government groups. They may even have cut the politicians too much slack, as the legislative panel known as the state Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR) prepares to impose its vision for the political map of New York upon the public.
But, no, the public interest lobby isn't giving up.
By now, legislative redistricting should be in the secure hands of an independent commission. That, if you're keeping score, was what everyone from the governor to a huge majority of legislators campaigned on in 2010.
So now the goo-goos -- organized as ReShapeNY, which consists of Citizens Union, the state League of Women Voters and the New York Public Interest Research Group -- offer a reasoned, last-ditch demand.
They want the district maps that LATFOR cooks up to be vetted by the sort of knowledgeable, independent-minded citizens who would be in charge by now, if only the politicians had lived up to their word.
That means, says ReShapeNY, "a clear and objective set of criteria for drawing district lines and a public explanation as to how and why each individual district was drawn." More to the point, says Barbara Bartoletti of the League of Women Voters, whatever LATFOR proposes needs to be carefully mined and thoroughly purged of "the more odious, obvious designer districts." Ms. Bartoletti suggests the likes of Judith Kaye, the state's former chief judge, for such political surgery.
In the end, of course, just how ignoble redistricting reform circa 2012 might turn out to be isn't up to Ms. Bartoletti or any other well-intentioned activists. It's Mr. Cuomo's call.
He's the one who has vowed to veto any redistricting plan that reflects little more than the determination of the legislative majorities to stay in power. He ought to regard good-government groups as his allies.
How so? Let the Legislature know, governor -- firmly, immediately -- that its work needs to be reviewed by the citizens who will be affected by it.
All eyes are you.
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