Monday, December 27, 2010

NYS - Losing 2 Seats and Gaining Respect

Last week, we learned that New York State is expected to lose two US House seats starting with the 2012 elections. But we also saw New York's junior Senator demonstrate her powerhouse legislative skill.

Losing Seats

New York State will lose two of its 29 US House seats starting with the 2012 elections based on the 2010 Census. Congressional seats are apportioned amongst the 50 states based on the data from the census that occurs every 10 years. Though New York State gained population during the period from 2000 to 2010, its growth of less than 3% was too slow to keep up with the nearly 10% growth in the US Population since 2000. There are 435 seats in the US House of Representatives because of Federal law, and the faster growing states gain seats while slower growing and shrinking states lose seats. As the US population has moved westward and southward, Nevada, Florida, and other beneficiaries of population movement have gained seats while New York and New Jersey have lost seats. New York's slow growth will result in the loss of two seats in the 2012 elections.

Starting in 2012, Florida will have as many seats (and, therefore, electoral votes) as New York State. In fact, New York State has not had as few as 27 seats since 1810, when only 1 million people lived in New York State.

The New York State Legislature will draw new lines for US House districts in 2011. Some other states use commissions, but New York's process is fully political. The apparently-Republican-controlled State Senate, the Democratic-controlled Assembly, and the Democratic Governor will need to agree on the US House lines. It will likely be an ugly and frustrating process as the two parties attempt to gain an advantage versus each other while shrinking our Congressional delegation.

In Manhattan, where our population has grown, we hope to essentially maintain our current map while the two seats are lost in upstate New York, which was the source of the lost population and slow growth in New York that created the need to reduce our number of US House seats. But, by losing two seats, our State Legislature may be tempted to tamper with the district maps in Manhattan and in the other parts of the New York City metro area. Manhattan residents should work together to discourage major changes to our district maps.

Charlie Rangel's Upper Manhattan seat is historic and must be protected. It has only been help by two people, and it is the first "Black" district to emerge on the national stage. Charlie Rangel and his predecessor, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., have been the most productive and successful legislators in the history of our country. Adam Clayton Powell was the first Black member of Congress from New York State. The people of Upper Manhattan should pro-actively come together to push the State Legislature to make as few changes as possible to Charlie Rangel's historic district in the upcoming redistricting. We cannot imagine a higher priority in the next few months, given that the new district lines will likely be in place for the next 10 years.

Gillibrand Takes Control

Our US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand closed out 2010 with a flurry of stunning and gratifying victories.

First, she led the fight to repeal "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and allow Americans of any sexual orientation to serve their country in our military. It was an achievement that has waited for six decades since initially being proposed, and it was the end of a 15 year period of living with the bizarre "lie to me" rule embodied in "Don't Ask Don't Tell".

Without taking a victory lap or getting any rest, Senator Gillibrand then led a successful fight to provide health benefits for the heroic first-responders who put themselves in harm's way to seek survivors and begin the recovery after the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

The New York Times devoted its front page to praising Senator Gillibrand for her leadership, her determination, and her stamina.

For us, none of this was a surprise. In fact, we're tempted to say that we told you so, but we'll leave it for others to point out that Manhattan Viewpoint expressed unequivocal enthusiasm for Senator Gillibrand's appointment to the US Senate.

Happy New Year

This year, 2010, has had its ups and its downs. Senator Gillibrand made sure it ended with some ups. We wish you a healthy and prosperous 2011, where the ups outweigh the downs by a substantial margin.

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