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NYS Constitution Section on Reapportionment

Posted by Pete Healey on February 26, 2012 at 11:15 AM Comments comments (0)

     This entire section is nearly indecipherable. No wonder it's never directly quoted or referred to when legislators and the media are discussing various aspects of the redistricting scandal. This whole section needs a rewrite, and some modern language (English would be useful, instead of the Archaic Lawyerese that they used here).




[Legislative power]

Section 1. The legislative power of this state shall be vested in the senate and assembly.

[Number and terms of senators and assemblymen]

§2. The senate shall consist of fifty members,* except as hereinafter provided. The senators elected in the year one thousand eight hundred and ninety-five shall hold their offices for three years, and their successors shall be chosen for two years. The assembly shall consist of one hundred and fifty members. The assembly members elected in the year one thousand nine hundred and thirty-eight, and their successors, shall be chosen for two years. (Amended by vote of the people November 2, 1937; November 6, 2001.)

(3)[Senate districts]

§3. The senate districts described in section three of article three of this constitution as adopted by the people on November sixth, eighteen hundred ninety-four are hereby continued for all of the purposes of future reapportionments of senate districts pursuant to section four of this article. (Formerly §3. Repealed and replaced by new §3 amended by vote of the people November 6, 1962.)

[Readjustments and reapportionments; when federal census to control]

§4. Except as herein otherwise provided, the federal census taken in the year nineteen hundred thirty and each federal census taken decennially thereafter shall be controlling as to the number of inhabitants in the state or any part thereof for the purposes of the apportionment of members of assembly and readjustment or alteration of senate and assembly districts next occurring, in so far as such census and the tabulation thereof purport to give the information necessary therefor. The legislature, by law, shall provide for the making and tabulation by state authorities of an enumeration of the inhabitants of the entire state to be used for such purposes, instead of a federal census, if the taking of a federal census in any tenth year from the year nineteen hundred thirty be omitted or if the federal census fails to show the number of aliens or Indians not taxed. If a federal census, though giving the requisite information as to the state at large, fails to give the information as to any civil or territorial divisions which is required to be known for such purposes, the legislature, by law, shall provide for such an enumeration of the inhabitants of such parts of the state only as may be necessary, which shall supersede in part the federal census and be used in connection therewith for such purposes. The legislature, by law, may provide in its discretion for an enumeration by state authorities of the inhabitants of the state, to be used for such purposes, in place of a federal census, when the return of a decennial federal census is delayed so that it is not available at the beginning of the regular session of the legislature in the second year after the year nineteen hundred thirty or after any tenth year therefrom, or if an apportionment of members of assembly and readjustment or alteration of senate districts is not made at or before such a session. At the regular session in the year nineteen hundred thirty-two, and at the first regular session after the year nineteen hundred forty and after each tenth year therefrom the senate districts shall be readjusted or altered, but if, in any decade, counting from and including that which begins with the year nineteen hundred thirty-one, such a readjustment or alteration is not made at the time above prescribed, it shall be made at a subsequent session occurring not later than the sixth year of such decade, meaning not later than nineteen hundred thirty-six, nineteen hundred forty-six, nineteen hundred fifty-six, and so on; provided, however, that if such districts shall have been readjusted or altered by law in either of the years nineteen hundred thirty or nineteen hundred thirty-one, they shall remain unaltered until the first regular session after the year nineteen hundred forty. Such districts shall be so readjusted or altered that each senate district shall contain as nearly as may be an equal number of inhabitants, excluding aliens, and be in as compact form as practicable, and shall remain unaltered until the first year of the next decade as above defined, and shall at all times consist of contiguous territory, and no county shall be divided in the formation of a senate district except to make two or more senate districts wholly in such county. No town, except a town having more than a full ratio of apportionment, and no block in a city inclosed by streets or public ways, shall be divided in the formation of senate districts; nor shall any district contain a greater excess in population over an adjoining district in the same county, than the population of a town or block therein adjoining such district. Counties, towns or blocks which, from their location, may be included in either of two districts, shall be so placed as to make said districts most nearly equal in number of inhabitants, excluding aliens.

No county shall have four or more senators unless it shall have a full ratio for each senator. No county shall have more than one-third of all the senators; and no two counties or the territory thereof as now organized, which are adjoining counties, or which are separated only by public waters, shall have more than one-half of all the senators.

The ratio for apportioning senators shall always be obtained by dividing the number of inhabitants, excluding aliens, by fifty, and the senate shall always be composed of fifty members, except that if any county having three or more senators at the time of any apportionment shall be entitled on such ratio to an additional senator or senators, such additional senator or senators shall be given to such county in addition to the fifty senators, and the whole number of senators shall be increased to that extent.

The senate districts, including the present ones, as existing immediately before the enactment of a law readjusting or altering the senate districts, shall continue to be the senate districts of the state until the expirations of the terms of the senators then in office, except for the purpose of an election of senators for full terms beginning at such expirations, and for the formation of assembly districts. (Amended by vote of the people November 6, 1945.)

[Apportionment of assemblymen; creation of assembly districts]

§5. The members of the assembly shall be chosen by single districts and shall be apportioned by the legislature at each regular session at which the senate districts are readjusted or altered, and by the same law, among the several counties of the state, as nearly as may be according to the number of their respective inhabitants, excluding aliens. Every county heretofore established and separately organized, except the county of Hamilton, shall always be entitled to one member of assembly, and no county shall hereafter be erected unless its population shall entitle it to a member. The county of Hamilton shall elect with the county of Fulton, until the population of the county of Hamilton shall, according to the ratio, entitle it to a member. But the legislature may abolish the said county of Hamilton and annex the territory thereof to some other county or counties.

The quotient obtained by dividing the whole number of inhabitants of the state, excluding aliens, by the number of members of assembly, shall be the ratio for apportionment, which shall be made as follows: One member of assembly shall be apportioned to every county, including Fulton and Hamilton as one county, containing less than the ratio and one-half over. Two members shall be apportioned to every other county. The remaining members of assembly shall be apportioned to the counties having more than two ratios according to the number of inhabitants, excluding aliens. Members apportioned on remainders shall be apportioned to the counties having the highest remainders in the order thereof respectively. No county shall have more members of assembly than a county having a greater number of inhabitants, excluding aliens.

(4)The assembly districts, including the present ones, as existing immediately before the enactment of a law making an apportionment of members of assembly among the counties, shall continue to be the assembly districts of the state until the expiration of the terms of members then in office, except for the purpose of an election of members of assembly for full terms beginning at such expirations.

In any county entitled to more than one member, the board of supervisors, and in any city embracing an entire county and having no board of supervisors, the common council, or if there be none, the body exercising the powers of a common council, shall assemble at such times as the legislature making an apportionment shall prescribe, and divide such counties into assembly districts as nearly equal in number of inhabitants, excluding aliens, as may be, of convenient and contiguous territory in as compact form as practicable, each of which shall be wholly within a senate district formed under the same apportionment, equal to the number of members of assembly to which such county shall be entitled, and shall cause to be filed in the office of the secretary of state and of the clerk of such county, a description of such districts, specifying the number of each district and of the inhabitants thereof, excluding aliens, according to the census or enumeration used as the population basis for the formation of such districts; and such apportionment and districts shall remain unaltered until after the next reapportionment of members of assembly, except that the board of supervisors of any county containing a town having more than a ratio of apportionment and one-half over may alter the assembly districts in a senate district containing such town at any time on or before March first, nineteen hundred forty-six. In counties having more than one senate district, the same number of assembly districts shall be put in each senate district, unless the assembly districts cannot be evenly divided among the senate districts of any county, in which case one more assembly district shall be put in the senate district in such county having the largest, or one less assembly district shall be put in the senate district in such county having the smallest number of inhabitants, excluding aliens, as the case may require. No town, except a town having more than a ratio of apportionment and one-half over, and no block in a city inclosed by streets or public ways, shall be divided in the formation of assembly districts, nor shall any districts contain a greater excess in population over an adjoining district in the same senate district, than the population of a town or block therein adjoining such assembly district. Towns or blocks which, from their location may be included in either of two districts, shall be so placed as to make said districts most nearly equal in number of inhabitants, excluding aliens. Nothing in this section shall prevent the division, at any time, of counties and towns and the erection of new towns by the legislature.

An apportionment by the legislature, or other body, shall be subject to review by the supreme court, at the suit of any citizen, under such reasonable regulations as the legislature may prescribe; and any court before which a cause may be pending involving an apportionment, shall give precedence thereto over all other causes and proceedings, and if said court be not in session it shall convene promptly for the disposition of the same. (Amended by vote of the people November 6, 1945.)

! Again!

Posted by Pete Healey on February 11, 2012 at 5:55 PM Comments comments (0)

 I'll be a guest on WGHQ 920 AM out of Kingston, NY on Monday morning from 7AM to 8AM. The host will be Geddy Sveikauskas, puglisher of several weekly newspapers covering just about all of Ulster County. It is also sometimes streamed live on the web at This live webcast isn't always available for me so don't be surprised if it isn't working for you.

Another Quote of the Week on Redistricting

Posted by Pete Healey on February 9, 2012 at 7:55 AM Comments comments (0)


     Listening to the radio yesterday morning (there's a local talk show out of Kingston, the capitol of Ulster County, that often has elected politicians as guests), Assemblyman Kevin Cahill yesterday was asked about how much interest there was among people in the redistricting issue. He said he believed that "people find it interesting once every ten year". Well, Assemblyman Cahill, people find it interesting all the time because once every ten years you and your cohorts "game" the system so that 95% of you are automatically re-elected. What people actually find every ten years is the ability to "do something" about this rigged system. Maybe there's enough pressure to force some action that would tend to open up the system this time. If only the state leadership of the Greens would get their heads out of their asses long enough to see the possibilities!

Quote of the Week on Redistricting

Posted by Pete Healey on February 3, 2012 at 8:50 PM Comments comments (0)

From the Legislative Gazette in Albany earlier this week: GIVE THE MONEY BACK, YOU THIEVES!

LATFOR defends redistricting process

By Adam Shanks

Staff writer

January 30, 2012

The legislative task force on redistricting, LATFOR, spent most of its first public hearing since the release of proposed Assembly and Senate lines last week defending its process of appropriating districts.

Multiple good government groups, including the New York Public Interest Research Group, Citizens United, and The League of Women Voters criticized LATFOR's proposal as a result of partisan interests, not adhering to the Constitution as strictly as possible.


"Give the taxpayers their $3 million back," said Bill Mahoney of NYPIRG, in reference to the reported amount of money LATFOR paid for a consultant to help draw the district lines.

My Comments Before the Legislative Task Force on Redistricting (LATFOR)

Posted by Pete Healey on January 31, 2012 at 8:45 PM Comments comments (0)

January 31, 2012



Please accept these written remarks in lieu of the public comment I intended to present at today's hearing in the Bronx. I dropped my son early in the AM at Laguardia Airport and drove to the Bronx intending to wait for the 3PM start time for your public hearing. After an extortion attempt by an employee of a private parking lot, who wanted "lunch money" in addition to the advertised parking fee for the day, and after driving past several closed private lots near Yankee Stadium, and then not being able to find any street parking that would last more than an hour, I gave up and went home. The following will substitute for the prepared remarks I wanted to give in person to your task force:

It's hard to believe we waited six months for this result. I could have done as well with two large state maps and a pair of scissors! Did you really spend $1.5 million or more on this effort? Why? It's clear that the Governor intends to veto any maps that are as bad as the ones we've been living with for the last ten years, and in response you created two maps that are even worse? Is that legislating, or is it more properly called brinksmanship, or is this just part of the overall decline in your abilities? I'm sorry that this commentary must be so uniformly negative but there is nothing from my perspective in all of these maps that warrants a positive response. Ulster County currently has six state legislators representing various portions of the county, only one of whom is currently resident in the county. The proposed maps would give us seven state legislators, and none of the districts drawn by your task force would be wholly contained within the county (nor would the entire county be contained within one Senate district, in fact four Senate districts would slice the county like origami).

The timing of your hearings leaves much to be desired, with less than a week after publication of the new maps before the hearings begin. While I offered Ulster County as a site for one such public hearing when I visited you in Albany last summer, again the closest you come to us here is 75 miles to the north or 75 miles to the south, and each of these hearings gves me less than a week to prepare, and to take time off from work.

Just three weeks after the Governor declared that the days of "dysfunction" in Albany are over, you have put this term back on the lips of anyone and everyone who observes the capability and performance of the state legislature.

You wanted people to withhold judgment until they could see the "results" of your work. Well, it's nearly unanimous, and that's not a term often used for New Yorkers' opinions. The only questions left are how to change the result and who will do it? When will the Governor veto and will it be in time to hand off to the courts and/or a "special master"? Should the legislature be trusted to write a constitutional amendment to create an independent redistricting commission in the future? I can only answer by saying that any "solution" created by a court or special master, or even by negotiation with the legislature, be a temporary solution, only for the purposes of this years' election cycle. I would add as well that a long-term solution shouldn't be written by any of you all, given your recent history. I want to call yet again for a constitutional convention, called either for general or specific limited purposes, to allow the people themselves to decide how they will elect their representatives.

Pete Healey

New Paltz


Get Ready for the New District Lines in New York State!

Posted by Pete Healey on January 24, 2012 at 6:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Well, at least until the Governor vetoes them, LATFOR (Legislative Task Force on Redistricting) will publish their proposals for state and congressional lines for the next ten years. Here's a link that gives a bit of a preview:




What " The 99% and the 1%" Mean to Me

Posted by Pete Healey on January 7, 2012 at 8:05 PM Comments comments (0)

                                 What Do "The 99% and the 1%" Mean?


For ten years or so, we've all been hearing how "We're all in this together". If

I can be allowed to modify this slogan by adding a parenthesis, so that it reads, "We're

(almost) all in this together", I think the meaning of the "99% and the 1%" becomes

clearer. On rereading the original "Declaration of the 99%" from the New York City General

Assembly in September of last year, most of the grievances describe how the rich and powerful

"1%" exempt themselves from the laws,rules, regulations, codes of conduct and lifestyle

that govern the other "99%".


It's hard to pinpoint the exact annual income that places an individual in the top 1% but

it's certainly close to the roughly $175,000 salary of a congressperson or Senator. After

all, these are the people who make the laws and establish the public policies that put our nation,

and world, in the state we're in just now. Since they set their own pay rates, and far too many

of them identify closely with the "1%", it's only rational to think that they would create a

lifestyle for themselves that places them above the "99%".


The list of grievances from the "Declaration of the 99%" is a familiar one to most of us, but

it's useful to point out specifically how some of these grievances prove that the "1%" has separated

itself so completely from the "99%" that it's fair to say that we're not quite all in this together:


They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.

They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.

They have sold our privacy as a commodity.

They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.


"They" in all these instances is that curious combination of corporate leaders and government officials that ought to be termed

the "military-industrial-congressional complex", adding the congressional element that was intentionally left out of the

phrase coined by President Eisenhower in 1960 of the "military-industrial complex". One grievance that doesn't appear on the

General Assembly's list but deserves a separate mention in this context is how the government officials write loopholes into all

sorts of laws, rules, and regulations that exempt corporations, and the military, and even themselves from conduct that is

required of the "99%". This is in fact the primary method used to perpetuate their power and status. While they write laws for

all of society (for example, the income tax code) they include enough exceptions for the "1%" to avoid compliance (again,

many of the largest U.S.-based corporations pay no corporate income tax on profits in the billions of dollars).


Similar formulations have been used before to describe a "ruling class" in this country, particularly by socialists and

communists who have for a hundred years talked of the "90% versus 10%". There are also divisions within the "99%" along

gender, racial and class lines that require some careful thought and consideration. For example medical doctors average

pay is about $150,000 per year, 10 times the $15,000 brought home by a full-time minimum wage worker, with considerable

differences in health benefits, pension, and other perks. And not all doctors make as little as $150,000 per year, with some

making far more than that while all of them have a lobbying organization, the American Medical Association, that has a

reputation as a powerful influence on Congress and the government.

These percentages are of course more symbolic than real, but the overall concept becomes crystal clear. There are those at the

"top" of our society who work only to benefit and protect each other while the vast majority are left out of the deliberations and

decision-making that affect all of us. Corporate leaders conduct their business in almost complete privacy and lobbyists meet

with government officials out of the public view as well. Government decision-making is most often determined by the amount of

money contributed and the private pressures brought to bear by "special interests" affiliated with and sponsored by this "military-

industrial-congressional complex".


It should be noted here that while the 1% (about 3 million people in a country of 300 million) are powerful and include the

government officials who act as a kind of "executive committee" for the corporate business leadership, there is a much smaller group

that holds much of the wealth of this entire country! It has been shown how the top one-hundreth of one percent, or.01%, own or

control more than a third of this country's entire wealth. This group of possibly as few as 30,000 people may be the true "1%", but without

the rest of the 1% would have a much tougher time preserving and enforcing their enormous advantage over the 99.99% of all others

in the United States of America. The essential point, though, is that the economic crisis that began in 2008 has more directly than ever

pointed out who does and who does not have to "play by the rules", who is and who is not "too big to fail", and who among us will bend

every effort to protect and preserve the current system of economic and political leadership in this country and the people who control it.

These "1%" hold the allegiance of almost no one else and yet they hold all the levers of power. It is the task of the Occupation movement

to make clear to the "99%" that we are not stuck with these facts, and these leaders, forever.

2012 Will Dictate the Course of the Next Ten Years

Posted by Pete Healey on January 1, 2012 at 10:25 AM Comments comments (0)

As some things change, many remain the same. At least that's how I intend to translate the old French saying "Plus ca change, plus ca meme". Neither the left nor the right in New York State has taken seriously the opportunity that only comes once every ten years, the redistricting peocess. But the center has been hard at work on this issue. Common Cause New York has drawn maps for state assembly and senate and for 27 new congressional districts based on the single-member district model, and they've received great heaping gobs of attention for their efforts. A close look reveals the pitiful results but that doesn't matter, because very few will ever take a close look. Those of us in the PR community have been given a once-every-ten-years chance to raise the PR issue as a way out of the single-member district, winner-take-all dilemma, and we haven't done much with that chance. If you look at this blog for the past six months you'll notice repeated calls for a broad coalition to advance PR as an alternative, with no response.

Ten more years of the same old routine? It's likely. While the socialists couldn't  decide if they prefer multi-party politics to the one-party state, and the Greens collapsed yet again in membership, organization and strategic sense, and the right generally stuck close the Republican party and refused to engage, the opportunity passed us by.

Dysfunction Again!!?!! So What's New?

Posted by Pete Healey on December 12, 2011 at 7:10 PM Comments comments (0)

A federal judge has decided that he doesn't believe the state legislature is capable of agreeing on a new primary date for state and local offices for next year, so he's going to make the decision for them, sometime in the next 30 days. Here's the link to a story on the issue:

This Is How I Really Feel About Campaign Finance Reform

Posted by Pete Healey on December 10, 2011 at 7:35 PM Comments comments (0)

     It's a dead end road

     It leads to the Supreme Court and misery

     It used to be a favorite of the Democrats

     Back when they couldn't raise as much money as the Republicans

     But now only the left-wing of the Democratic Party

     (and of course therefore the Greens)

     Talk or care about it at all

     It's really just a device for prolonging the rule of the two parties

     And no one else

     Money rules everything in this society

     How could we expect politics not to be affected by it?

     Proportional rules and elections directly blunt the power of money

     The only thing a small party needs to do is to get out its vote

     Whatever share of the total vote it receives that's how much power it has

     It's as simple and direct as that

     Why would we fight or struggle or advocate for any other rules

     When PR gives us what we need, and is the most democratic solution?