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Democrats: Nassau County GOP Pulls A Fast One On Redistricting

In Confusion Of Coliseum Hearing, Vote Held, Motion Passed
Nassau County redistricting proposal

Republicans in Nassau County unveiled a new redistricting plan on May 16, 2011, that was met with fierce opposition. (Photo: CBS 2)

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Was it a political power grab or a fairer way to assure all citizens have equal representation?

Voting district boundaries are poised to be redrawn following a controversial decision in Nassau County on Tuesday, reports CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.

It was standing room only inside the Nassau Legislature as hundreds of workers came to rally for a new Nassau Coliseum hub — with questions about the $400 million bond referendum facing taxpayers — when suddenly there was an abrupt and unexpected schedule change.

Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt announced a vote on the controversial redistricting plan. Yet many who came to voice objections couldn’t get in due to the overflow Coliseum crowd.

“If you’re not here to discuss redistricting, we ask you to stand up and let those people come in because that’s the item that they’re now calling,” was the order from the Legislature.

When the 2010 census confirmed a population shift, Nassau’s Republican majority began remapping boundaries, resulting in sweeping changes through Hempstead, the North Shore, and the Five Towns.

Democrats argued it was hastily drawn and a political power grab.

“It’s a desperate chance to retain their majority and they control redistricting again next year,” Democratic Legislator David Denenberg said.

Those who did get to speak against let it all hang out.

“It’s completely racist. It’s wrong and everybody up there knows it,” one person said.

“We are taxpayers and we shouldn’t have to go through this abuse that we hear here,” another said.

“Why are they so fearful? Why are they insistent upon pushing it through now?” wondered another.

Republicans explained they are mandated to make changes — that this will give all residents a greater voice. They said they are trying to assure one person, one vote.

“There’s been no give and take with this process and the bottom line is that the Republican-led majority is going to ram this down the peoples’ throats,” Democratic Legislator Kevan Abrahams said.

The motion carried 10-9.

Tuesday’s decision cannot be adopted or voted through by the county executive until the merits of an appeal are decided in state Supreme Court.

Nassau Republicans said their redistricting will give minorities an opportunity to add another representative to the two they already have. The Legislature has 19 members.

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