City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has denied that politics played a role in shaping the new City Council district maps. The speaker responded to criticism that she influenced the independent districting commission in order to help shore up support in her bid to become the city's next mayor. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
The maps for City Council redistricting are in and the reviews are lousy. Some of them, anyway.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn says she never interfered with the redistricting process.
"I have never spoken to a member of the redistricting commission about any lines," she said. "I wouldn't know the chairman if I saw him tomorrow."
The complaints came from people like Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, whose East Harlem district was changed drastically to become a majority Bronx district. Some say a backroom deal was cut between Quinn and Bronx leader Carl Heastie, where he would get more power while Quinn gets his support for her mayoral bid. The speaker and Heastie both deny this.
Quinn would not address the controversy over District 8.
"I am not going to stand here and comment on each individual line and whether it should have stopped at West 88th Street or West 34th Street or whatever," she said. "One, because its an independent redistricting process, and I'm not going to go line by line."
Another complaint was that an ally of embattled Brooklyn Assemblyman Vito Lopez requested that Lopez's home be moved to a district that would make it easier for him to run for City Council next year. The request for that change was granted by the supposedly independent commission.
"I believe that is a blatant political move and it should be changed to reflect the fact that political interference is not allowed in the process," said Rep. Nydia Velazquez.
Others say the process has been less than transparent and mostly out of public view.
"The public is supposed to be afforded an opportunity for inspection and comment one month before public hearings," said Jerry Vattamala of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. "That's outlined in the charter. That did not happen. The map was presented to the public less than 24 hours before it was submitted to the City Council."
The council has until December 10 to either accept or reject the lines. Not voting at all is tantamount to accepting them. Speaker Quinn gave no indication which way she is leaning.