Hakeem Jeffries Blast NYS IRC: Instead of Remedying issues, the IRC Exacerbates Them

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The New York State Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) recently unveiled a new congressional district map, mainly retaining the existing boundaries with only minor alterations in some upstate districts. However, uncertainty looms over whether the Legislature will accept this proposal or craft its own. While a state Senate Democrat has voiced opposition, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins have yet to take a definitive stance.

Hakeem Jeffries, the Minority Leader in the US Congress, criticized the IRC’s proposal, highlighting concerns about the failure to address key flaws in the current map drawn by an unelected special master in 2022. Jeffries noted that the IRC’s map disregards or exacerbates substantive issues related to communities of interest, particularly in parts of New York State like the upper Hudson Valley.

Both Stewart-Cousins and Heastie will feel significant pressure from various partisan interests, including allies of Jeffries, who have been vocal in their criticism of the current district lines. Democratic lawmakers and strategists have expressed dissatisfaction with the proposed map, citing its similarity to the current map they seek to replace and raising concerns about New York’s compliance despite Republican gerrymandering tactics in other states.

Jeffries also stated, The IRC map breaks apart six additional counties in New York State, including one that appears gratuitously designed to impermissibly benefit an incumbent in the 19th Congressional District. That would be a clear violation of the New York State Constitution. Now that the Independent Redistricting Commission has completed its work, it is important that the Legislature ensure – as the Constitution contemplates – that the people of New York State be afforded a fairly drawn congressional map.”

The Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) has faced scrutiny, particularly in the Westchester area, where questions have been raised about potential conflicts of interest. This scrutiny stems from the fact that the IRC Chairman, Ken Jenkins, also serves as Deputy County Executive to George Latimer, who is running for the 16th Congressional District. Latimer openly acknowledged that the redistricting process could impact his electoral prospects. Given Jenkins’ pivotal role in shaping district boundaries as Deputy County Executive, concerns have arisen about possible conflicts of interest.

State Sen. James Skoufis strongly criticized the proposed map, particularly its division of Orange County to protect incumbents. The proposal also adjusts districts like the 22nd in Central New York to lean more Democratic. The fate of the proposed map now lies with the Legislature, which is scheduled to reconvene later in February. Former Rep. Lee Zeldin supports the proposed maps and urges legislators to avoid further alterations, cautioning against partisan maneuvers that could result in legal challenges.

If lawmakers reject the plan, they must swiftly devise and vote on an alternative map before petitioning begins on Feb. 27. However, a backup plan must be prepared before the IRC’s proposal is dismissed. While lawmakers possess a supermajority to approve the new map, dissenting Democrats could jeopardize its passage or necessitate Republican support.

DAMON K JONES
DAMON K JONEShttps://damonkjones.com
A multifaceted personality, Damon is an activist, author, and the force behind Black Westchester Magazine, a notable Black-owned newspaper based in Westchester County, New York. With a wide array of expertise, he wears many hats, including that of a Spiritual Life Coach, Couples and Family Therapy Coach, and Holistic Health Practitioner. He is well-versed in Mental Health First Aid, Dietary and Nutritional Counseling, and has significant insights as a Vegan and Vegetarian Nutrition Life Coach. Not just limited to the world of holistic health and activism, Damon brings with him a rich 32-year experience as a Law Enforcement Practitioner and stands as the New York Representative of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America.

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