Plan To Reshape District 8 Causes Controversy
While the redrawing of City Council maps has largely avoided controversy, questions are being raised about one Manhattan district that could be moved mostly into the Bronx, with backroom politics possibly at play. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
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New York's Eighth City Council District currently includes East Harlem, part of West Harlem and a small portion of the Bronx. But a draft map would greatly change things, making most of the district based in The Bronx and leaving some of Manhattan behind.
"Bronx gain is Manhattan's loss," said Juan Cartagena of Latino Justice. "And I think the real question for everyone in Manhattan is, 'How come there is no pushback?'"
According to the 2010 census, Upper Manhattan lost population while the Bronx gained.
"From 2000 to 2010, it grows by 3.9 percent and because of that growth, it has enough population to support at least 8 districts but less than 9," said Carl Hum of the City Districting Commission.
But critics say the district gerrymanders through the Bronx, going past Yankee Stadium to as far north as Highbridge, areas that are far away from the current district. A portion of East Harlem was also taken out of it.
"Certain blocks in East Harlem, that have historically always been in that district, they don't need to be taken out," said Brian Paul of Common Cause. "There is no demographic reason for that change."
Some are speculating there may be politics at play. Sources tell NY1 that Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who plans to run for mayor next year, is trying to win the support of Bronx Democratic Chairman Carl Heastie by awarding him with more power.
"By putting 50 percent plus one of the population in the Bronx, that means that whatever happens in this district in the future, we are talking about the next 10 years, will be controlled by the Bronx party machine," Cartagena said.
The person who would potentially lose out is City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, who would be running in a vastly changed district. She declined to speak with NY1 but a source said she had two very contentious meetings with the speaker on this issue.
A spokesman for the Speaker said that "Anonymous accusations of deal making are false. The commission makes decisions based on the directives spelled out by the City Charter and the Voting Rights Act, with input from the community and others."
There is still some time left. The next round of maps are due at the end of October. But there is not a lot of time between when those maps come up and the council vote, which happens just a few days later,