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Districting Commission Approves New Maps For City Council Districts

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The new district maps for the City Council were set for final approval Monday, but good government groups and others have questioned the process. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

The new City Council maps were approved Monday by the Districting Commission and are awaiting a full council vote. The Justice Department will also examine the new maps to ensure compliance with federal law.

One district that continued to receive scrutiny was District 8, which includes East Harlem and the Bronx but is currently mostly in Manhattan. The new maps make this a majority Bronx district.

"Well, it is creating a majority Bronx district, interestingly enough by 20 voters, 20 people rather, which is a very, very tight margin," said Susan Lerner of Common Cause NY.

According to Common Cause New York, the new District 8 also loses Randall's Island, where more than 1,600 people live, to District 22 in Queens.

"Well, I don't know how it got switched," Lerner said. "I do know that it has been switched. And it appears to us to be problematic because it seems to be a violation of the criteria in the charter. Historically, Randall's Island has been a part of Manhattan, not Queens. It has no longstanding ties to Queens."

"The reason Randall’s Island is no longer in [District] 8, is because it would have upset the deviation. It would have created too large a district," said Carl Hum from the Districting Commission.

District 8 is represented by City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, who declined comment. She previously claimed that putting more of her district in the Bronx would break up the historic Latino neighborhood of East Harlem.

"Population shifts just change. Harlem is no longer the Harlem that we knew before," said Juan Cartagena of LatinoJustice PRLDEF. "And these shifts are going north and slightly east. Manhattan is changing and the Bronx is changing. So Manhattan’s loss is probably the Bronx's gain."

According to Cartagena, the new district does not disenfranchise Latino voters.

"Ultimately it is still a Latino district. It's just a Latino district that stretches farther across the river," Cartagena said.

Good government groups and others have also questioned the process. The Districting Commission voted last Thursday on the maps, but the maps did not go public on the Web until the following day.

The City Council may vote by early December, but if it does not, the maps go directly to the Department of Justice for review.

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