Monday, January 30, 2012

WRBA Opposes Gerrymander That Would Split Woodhaven

The Woodhaven Residents' Block Association strongly objects to plans to carve up its neighborhood among three different state senators.

The Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR), the body charged with redrawing district lines, released its proposed maps last week. The Block Association applauds LATFOR's decision to keep all of Woodhaven within a single Assembly district -- as it has been for the past decade -- but strongly urges the Task Force to reconsider its Senate boundaries.

"LATFOR's decision to split up a one-square-mile neighborhood among three different senators is bewildering and has no basis in the character, demographics, or needs of our community," said Alexander Blenkinsopp, the Block Association's communications director. "When it comes to the Senate lines, the people of Woodhaven are being treated as pawns in Albany's gerrymandering games."

Two of the three districts that encompass parts of Woodhaven have been referred to as among "the 20 ugliest gerrymandered districts." Queens Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. described one of those districts as "something that looks like a baby alien popping out of a stomach."

The division of Woodhaven under the proposed plan is illustrated in the attached map. The lines are not only unsightly and convoluted, but they will also hurt Woodhaven's representation. Some Woodhaven residents will be in the same district as Astoria -- clear across the borough. Other Woodhaven residents will be in a district that stretches all the way out to Green Acres Mall in Nassau County.

"Woodhaven is a cohesive community with a clear identity. That's why we're pleased LATFOR drew an Assembly district that includes all of our neighborhood," said WRBA Director Vance Barbour. "But the proposed Senate lines will dilute Woodhaven's voice in the upper chamber of New York's legislature and make it more difficult for fellow residents to know who's representing them. Our neighborhood would become an orphan to three different senators, rather than a priority to one of them."

LATFOR will hold a public hearing for Queens on Tuesday, February 7, at 3 p.m., in Room 213 of Queens Borough Hall (120-55 Queens Blvd., Kew Gardens). The WRBA hopes to testify at this hearing.

The proposed maps for the entire districts that would include Woodhaven can be viewed here, here, and here.

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WRBA office: (718) 296-3735