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This is party of my gerrymandering series.  I thought I'd start close to home, with NYC.  I live in NY-8.  NY state, as many will know, is largely 3 parts: NY City, the suburbs, and the rest.  This diary is just about NYC

New York City's 8 million live in 5 counties: New York, Kings, Queens, Richmond and Bronx.  These are also known as boroughs, where they go by the more familiar names: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx (OK, two names are the same).  

Almost all of NYC is solidly Democratic (except Staten Island - NY 13).  But it still has some weird looking CDs.  

The 5 counties include all or part of 13 CDs (the 5 through the 17th); the 7th,, 8th, 9th, 13th, 14th and 15th are in two counties within the city, the 12th is in three counties.  And the 5th and 17th are only partly NYC.  
Oddly, perhaps, one of the few CDs in NYC that doesn't look at all gerrymandered is the 13th, which is also the only Republican CD (for those who do not know, Staten Island is legally part of NYC, but it acts and feels compeletely differently).  

Here's a picture of NY's CD's highlight one of the weirdest looking, the 12th


My district, the 8th is represented by Nadler.  The 12th is represented by Velazquez, the 11th by Owens (Owens is retiring and will be replaced by another Dem, Yvette Clarke). All three are solidly liberal Democrats.  Any way you split these CDs, they would all elect Democrats by huge margins.  In  2006, Nadler got 83% of the vote, Velazquez got 89% and Clarke got 89%.  But guess what? Nadler's district is one of the most Jewish, and, yup, Nadler's Jewish.  Clarke's district is 58% Black, and, yup, so is she.  And Velazquez' district? You guess right again! It's almost half Latino, and, although names don't always reveal ethnicity, this time they do - she is from Puerto Rico.

Looking a little farther East, the 9th CD wraps around weirdly to include all the mostly-White neighborhoods: Forest Hills (one of the most heavily Jewish neighborhoods in the city); Howard Beach (50% Italian); Kew Gardens (ethnically diverse, but mostly from various parts of Europe and Asia); Marine Park (mostly Irish); Midwood (Jewish); Middle Village (diverse); Ozone Park (mixed, but mostly Eastern Europe and Southern Asian); Rego Park (recent Russian Jewish immigrants); Rockaway Beach (known as the Irish Riviera); Gerritsen Beach (mostly undeveloped, by NYC standards); Sheepshead Bay (Russia, former Soviet countries); and Woodhaven, which, for a change, is mostly Latino. The CDs it wraps around are the 12th and 10th.  

Given all this, it's a bit odd that NY 7, quite possibly the most ethnically diverse CD in the entire country -  there is one high school where the students come from 100 countries with almost 60 native languages, and guides to 'ethnic' eating speak glowingly of the number 7 train line that runs through the district - is represented by Joseph Crowley, a White Catholic.  

All this gets a bit confusing, so, here's a table:

<th>CD</th><th>% Wh.</th><th>% Bl.</th><th>% Hi.</th><th>% As.</th>

In a diary to come later this week, I will examine whether the voting rights act, which led to such things, should be substantially amended.  

But here, let me ask if this sort of district serves any of its constituents.  Do I, a resident of the upper west side of manhattan, have more in common with people at the far end of Brooklyn than I do with my neighbors across Central Park?  I put forth that I do not.

Could the 11th and 12th districts look more 'normal' and, nevertheless, elect one Latino and one Black?  I think they could.

And, if, perish the thought, a White person represented a majority Latino district, or a Black person a majority white district, or any other glorious compbination, could they not, nevertheless, do a good job of representing their constituents?  Doesn't Nadler represent the non-Jews of the 8th, Velazquez the non-Latinos of the 11th, and Clarke the non-Blacks of the 12th?  Indeed they do.  And it is insulting to the representatives and the constituents alike to imagine that such contorted districts are necessary or beneficial.  

Yet another aspect is that, to whatever extent having the same congressman makes people feel closer (not much, I admit) is it really good for us to further separate the racial ethnic groups this way?  

One final idea, gotten from Mark Mommonier's book Bushmanders and Bullwinkles, is to measure gerrymandering by the length of description of a CD in the Congressional District Atlas.  This isn't online, but I plan to order it.  

Originally posted to plf515 on Tue Dec 05, 2006 at 03:47 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip jar (8+ / 0-)

    for tips.

    Suggestions, corrections, ideas, all welcome.

    Recommends are nice.

    If you have expertise in a particular state or area of a state, and would like to help me out with a future diary, let me know.

    What are you reading? on Friday mornings

    by plf515 on Tue Dec 05, 2006 at 03:45:21 AM PST

  •  I will be in and out (0+ / 0-)

    all day, as I often am.

    I will get to all the comments as soon as I can.

    What are you reading? on Friday mornings

    by plf515 on Tue Dec 05, 2006 at 03:50:13 AM PST

  •  I alternate Nadler & Rangel... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I am on UWS and even though I don't move, every so often I am Nadler and every so often Rangel. They shift the district line just a little, sometimes a littel more. Upper West Side is pretty white-nonhispanic along the residential only Central Park West, West End Ave and Riverside Drive... but much less so along the mixed residential & commercial Columbus Ave & Amsterdam Ave.

    Nadlers district used to go up thtough NorthWest Manhattan through Washington Heights & Inwood, but was redrawn for minority representation up there (black, dominican, puerto rican, etc.), and so they gave him more south.

  •  What (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    NY state, as many will know, is largely 3 parts: NY City, the suburbs, and the rest.

    is this thing you call "suburbs"?

    Don't blame me -- I voted for Weicker.

    by LarryInNYC on Tue Dec 05, 2006 at 05:05:18 AM PST

    •  It's called New Jersey. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      As someone who lives in the "rest," I feel like I should be offended by that original statement, yet somehow, I can't argue; it certainly is accurate.

      •  Well, it's sometimes called (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        rural, but that's dumb, there are cities there: Troy, Albany, Schenectady, etc.  It's sometimes called 'upstate' but that's silly too, I think. NY goes more East West than North South, and it's never clear to me where 'upstate' would start (some Manhattanites seem to think that Westchester is upstate, and certainly Northern Westchester is pretty rural).

        What are you reading? on Friday mornings

        by plf515 on Tue Dec 05, 2006 at 06:39:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I've always defined... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ..."upstate" as any place further away from the city than you. If you live in Yonkers, then White Plains is upstate. If you live in Albany, then Saratoga Springs is upstate.

          I live in Ithaca. Hence, Syracuse and Rochester are "upstate."

  •  Gerrymandering Protects White, Not Minority CDs.. (4+ / 0-) New York City.   Gerrymandering in New York City is done to protect white representatives, not minorities.  The districts represented by black and Latino members are fairly compact and contiguous.  The sole exception may be Cong. Velzquez's district (NY-12) and even there, her district was redrawn to become more compact as a result of court cases.  So when it comes time to looking at how districts are drawn to protect ethnic groups in New York City, let's make it real clear that it's white representatives  who are in perversely drawn districts to protect their incumbency and the 'ethnic integrity' of their districts.

    Let's look at the historical background of some of these districts.

    As New York's population failed to grow at the rate of the rest of the nation, the state lost CDs.  NY-8 originally was the urban liberal district.  It used to be focused on the Upper West Side district, snaked along the Hudson River and took in Riverdale, an affluent Jewish neighborhood. The district sent Bella Abzug and Ted Weiss to Congress.  With the loss of CDs, many Jewish neighborhoods of Brooklyn were added.  These areas are not as liberal or affluent as the former CD-8 but it kept the Jewish-ness of the district.

    NY-9 used to be the Brooklyn based Jewish district.  This areas was represented for decades by Manny Cellar, but it's best known Representative was Elizabeth Holtzman.  Middle-class Jewish neighborhoods from Queens were added to keep the 'character' of the district in tact.

    NY-12 is a Voting Rights district created in 1990 to elect an Hispanic Representative.  Originally, this dostrict snaked around to take in every Hispanic neighborhood in Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.  However, the district was redrawn to comply with Supreme Court cases that required districts to be less perverse in boundaries.

    NY-7 is the old 'Archie Bunker district' that took in the working-class conservative 'ethnic' neighborhoods of Queens.  Geraldine Ferraro represented this district.  Similar neighborhoods in the Bronx were added when the state lost CDs.  This district is probably most ethnically diverse in the nation as newer immigrant groups move in.  Think of 'All in the Family' as the Bunkers were oldtimers but they had black and Hispanic neighbors. Cong. Crowley is part of the old guard.  His father was a local politician.

    NY-17 is perversely drawn to protect Cong. Engel.  This district used to be the one that took in the Jewish neighborhoods of the Bronx plus bits of suburban Westchester.  However, as the Jewish people died or moved and the district became more minority, Engel had faced strong challenges from black and Latino politicians.  The district was redrawn in 2000 to link parts of the Bronx into suburban areas, Westchester and Rockland County, in order to chop up the district that was once represented by Benjamin Gilman, who was the lone Jewish Republican in the House. Gilman retired as his district was eliminated, split among three CDs.

    NY-14 used to be the called 'silk stocking district' and was the most affluent in the city.  It took in only the East Side of Manhattan below Harlem.   Republican Mayor John Lindsay was a Congressman from this district.  Democratic Mayor Ed Koch was also the Congressman here but this district used to produce a large number of votes for 'Rockefeller' Republican candidates with regularity and was represented by a Republican in Congress until the early 90s.    Democratic-voting working class areas of Queens were added to effectively turn a 'swing' district into a solidly-Democratic CD.

    •  Grand Poobah (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Good to see you again. Always keeping it real.

    •  Interesting insights (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The 12th is still, I'd argue, the most ridiculous looking district in NYC, and it is specifically to scoop up all the Latinos it can.

      If middle Manhattan (say Houston - 96th st) were kept together, I think it might still get 2 CDs, and very likely both would be White.  Nadler's NY 8 scootches all over the place scooping up Whites, particularly Jews, but I (a Jew from the Upper West Side) have less in common with the Jews of Southern Brooklyn (in general) than with Protestants or Catholics from near me in Manhattan.  

      Queens, sensibly drawn, would probably still elect a couple White congressmen, if for no other reason than some of the neighborhoods are so diverse that a White person might get it by default.

      Brooklyn and the Bronx, I agree, would probably have no White congressmen.  Stateb Island doubtless would still elect a White guy and a Repub.

      But my point is that none of the districts should be drawn to protect any particular racial/ethnic congressperson.  

      What are you reading? on Friday mornings

      by plf515 on Tue Dec 05, 2006 at 06:20:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        If the Democrats ever recapture the state Senate in New York by the 2010 redistricting, they probably could eliminate Vito Fosella quite easily. What they would probably do is basically divide Staten Island in two, appending it to either a Manhattan or Brooklyn-based Congressional district. For DC related travel advice, please visit that link.

        by jiacinto on Tue Dec 05, 2006 at 07:59:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yes and no (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Yes, the white districts are weirdly shaped, but that actually protects the minority districts, not vice versa.

      White communities and diverse middle-class communities in the cities vote in higher percentages than poorer black communities and in MUCH higher percentages than Latino and immigrant-dominated communities.

      For example: Nydia Velasquez won with 55,000 votes this year. Only 62,000 votes were cast in her entire district. Edolphus Towns drew only 68,000 votes out of 74,000 total.

      Now, let's look at some "white" districts. Jerrold Nadler won with 97,000 votes, with a total of 117,000 votes cast in his district. Carolyn Maloney won with 105,000 votes out of 125,000 votes cast--twice as many as cast in NY-12, out of the same population!

      You get out into the suburbs and you have 160,000 or more voters out on Long Island and in Westchester.

      So if you create a district that is half white and half minority, your voting population will be majority white, and your primary electorate will be even moreso. By keeping white neighborhoods out of districts like NY-12, people like Nydia Velasquez can win their primaries and then coast in the general election.

    •  By the way (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      NY-12 was a "new" VRA district in 1992, but if you're talking about how districts were gerrymandered to shore up Jewish incumbents, you can't disregard that one Jewish incumbent, Steven Solarz, LOST his long-time seat in order to create a new 12th district open to electing a Latino.

      •  Re: Yes and No and BTW (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Steven Solarz lost his seat not only to create a new VRA district but also because the state lost CDs after the census and Solarz was the odd man out as Brooklyn had to give up a seat.  Solarz could have run in the district now represented by Anthony Weiner.

        CDs are drawn by total population, not voter turnout.   The point is that the predominantly minority districts in New York City are NOT examples of gerrymandering to elect minority candidates as is often accused when examining the boundaries of such CDs.  What you don't acknowledge in your Y/N post is that with the exception of the Latino VRA district represented by Nydia Velazquez, the majority-minority districts in New York City are the most compact and contiguous.  There is no legitimate reason for them to be divided.   New York City is an example of perverse boundaries being drawn primarily to encompass 'white ethnics.'  plf515 has respectively commented that he objects to any kind of ethnic based gerrymandering, whether it be based on creed, color or national origin.

  •  Well (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    brittain33, plf515

    I have issues majority-minority districts. They serve to basically throw in every minority precinct into one or two districts, regardless of whether these voters have any common political interest beyond race. What this process results in are perhaps one or two heavily Democratic districts surrounded by safe Republican districts.

    One example that I can think of is Florida. Although the Democrats were able to win two districts, changing what was an 18-7 balance into a 16-9 GOP edge, the map is heavily Republican due to majority-minority districts.

    In northern Florida Allen Boyd's 2nd district takes in all the black and poor Panhandle areas. Anchored by Leon county and Tallahassee this district basically protects Jeff Miller to the west in the 1st and Andrew Crenshaw to the east in the 4th. This district is probably, though, rational for the area.

    However, the really horrible district is the 3rd. It runs from Jacksonville, passing through Gainesville, ending in Orlando. It basically takes in every black and Democratic precinct possible above south Florida. As a result this gerrymandering led to Karen Thurman's defeat in FL-5, as the Republicnas had moved Gainesville to Corrine Brown's district, the 3rd. The rest of the Jacksonville and Orlando-based districts all beong to the GOP. A more politically balanced map would probably allow the Democrats probably one more district out of both the Jacksonville and Orlando areas. At the very least a less heavily-gerrymandered map would have another marginal district or two.

    In the Tampa-St. Petersburg/SW Florida area the 11th, now passing to Betty Castor's daughter (I forget her name), makes several other districts safely Republican. The old 11th just included a part of Hillsborough County. The current 11th extends to Pinnellas County, making the 10th (still somewhat politically competetive, although GOP leaning) safer for C.W. Bill Young. (When Young retires, though, this district should still be winnable). The 11th's small sliver that dips into Bradenton basically makes the 13th more GOP-friendly--and is probably part of the reason why Republican Vern Buchanan has apparently defeated Christine Jennings in that district. If it were not for the 11th there would perhaps be maybe one or two districts that would be either competetive or more friendly toward the Democrats.

    South Florida heavily skews toward the GOP. The district held by incoming Democrat Tim Mahoney would not have been on the radar screen had Mark Foley not been involved in the page scandal. This district basically takes in all the white areas in nothern Palm Beach, Martin, and St. Lucie counties. This district is the transitional part of Florida, where northern Florida becomes southern Florida. It takes in all the white conservative precincts in rural southern Florida and in coastal northern Palm Beach, Martin, and St. Lucie counties. It is surrounded, however, by Alcee Hastings's 23rd district, which takes in all the black and Democratic areas in that part of Florida. Hastings's district takes in all the black parts of Palm Beach and Broward counties as well.

    The Jewish sections of south Florida are heavily concentrated into the 19th and 20th districts held by Democrats Robert Wexler and Debbie Wasserman-Sdhulz. As a result these districts enabled outgoing Republican Clay Shaw, whom Democrat Ron Klein is replacing, to have a more friendly district. While his district still was competeive and maybe even Democratic leaning, given how Hastings, Wexler, and Wasserman-Schulz took in the heavily Democratic parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties, the gerrymandering prolonged Shaw's career by three election cycles.

    Finally Kendrick Meek's district, straddling southern Broward and northern Dade County, takes in all the blacks areas. Thus this enables Republicans Ilena Ros-Lehtinen and the Diaz-Balart brothers to have safe GOP districts. While perhaps Dade County should have maybe one or two more competetive districts the nature of the GOP's map compacts the heavily Democratic parts of the county into the 17th, held by Kendrick Meek; and into the 20th, held by Debbie Wasserman-Schulz.

    Minority-majority districts helps Republicans at the expense of Democrats. Also I question the argument that minority representatives will be more effectively able to represent minority groups' interests when these gerrymandered maps result in heavily Republican state congressional delegations. Yes there may be more of faces of color, but does it help their cause when they are vastly outnumbered by  elected officials either indifferent or hostile to their issues? For DC related travel advice, please visit that link.

    by jiacinto on Tue Dec 05, 2006 at 07:57:04 AM PST

    •  South Florida (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Have you ever driven through the towns along the coast of south Palm Beach County? You have a ribbon of high-rise condos and boutiques along the beach, a narrow strip of 1950s era housing by I-95 and the train tracks that are run-down and poor, and then behind that miles and miles of economy condo developments put up in the 1980s and newer gated communities. The first narrow strip is in Shaw's FL-22, the second narrow strip is Hastings' FL-23, and the third block is Wexler's FL-19. Very cynical and it divides communities that didn't need any more division than they had.

    •  I agree (0+ / 0-)

      I chose NYC to start with because I am familiar with it.  But also, it's easy to note that nearly all the gerrymandering is racial or ethnic, rather than party.  Nearly all of the CDs in NYC are Democratic (only 1 is not) and most heavily so.  

      Things are harder to analyze when you've got both party issues and race issues.  For my next diary, I many choose a place where there is a lot of party jockeying, but not much racial/ethnic.

      What are you reading? on Friday mornings

      by plf515 on Tue Dec 05, 2006 at 08:18:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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