ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch declared Tuesday to be “retribution day” for 42 state lawmakers he said broke written campaign promises to enact nonpartisan redistricting.
“Once having won, they have reneged,” Koch told reporters in a teleconference. “These are people who I believe they deserve the title of dishonorable.”
Koch said 100,000 automated “robo calls” will be made over the coming week to constituents represented by senators and Assembly members he said reneged on their pledges to redraw election district lines fairly. In the written pledge, lawmakers agreed to end the decades-old practice in which election districts are twisted to contain mostly voters of the majority party.
When called, the constituent can then dial zero to be transferred to the senator or Assembly member’s office.
All but one of the “enemies of reform” are Republicans, according to Koch, a Democrat, and his New York Uprising good-government group. That includes the entire Senate’s GOP majority.
As the minority party ahead of the fall elections, Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos of Nassau County immediately signed Koch’s pledge along with all of his members and Republican challengers to Democratic senators. The GOP majority made a campaign issue of the much slower action by the then-Democratic majority which eventually also signed onto the pledge.
Now, after elections gave Republicans a 32-30 majority, they oppose Koch’s reform, while Democrats accuse the GOP of breaking promises and opposing reform.
The Senate GOP is instead seeking a constitutional amendment to reform redistricting, which couldn’t change the process for at least 10 years.
“The Senate Republicans have already passed legislation to reform the redistricting process and fulfilled the NY Uprising pledge,” said Scott Reif, a Skelos’ spokesman.
“We’re confident that Senator Skelos’ constituents know that he is fighting every day to make a difference on the issues they’re focused on — including capping property taxes, getting spending under control and empowering the private sector to create new jobs.”
Koch says in the robo calls that the constituent’s elected official “pledged to eliminate the tricks and gerrymanders that guarantee the re-election of incumbents, thus preserving our failed system of state government. But now your senator has refused to honor his pledge.”
Last fall, Koch had declared the Senate Republicans the “party of reform” for its prompt action and strong support.
“I was shocked,” said Koch. “I have always believed most people in public office are honorable people.”
Alex Camarda of Citizens Union said nonpartisan redrawing of election districts every 10 years when new Census data is available forces greater accountability on elected officials and will force them to work together.
He called the current system the “Charlie Sheen version of redistricting: It’s basically all about winning.”
(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)